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Obesity and Weight Management

Why Can't I Weight After Pregnancy?

06/02/2010

Question:

I am 22 years old, 135 pounds and 5’4. I have a 4 month old son and after he was born I continued to gain weight. I have no problems exercising and do strength training and cardio every day for about 45 minutes to an hour. I eat pretty healthy foods but I never seem to be too hungry. It feels like I have to force myself to eat sometimes then afterwards I feel bloated. I know that I am not getting the recommended 1300-1500 calories per day and am more in the 1000-1200 calorie range (even then it’s difficult for me to get there). I have never had trouble eating before he was born. My measurements are not going down at all and I would really like to get back to my weight of 115-120 lbs. Any reason why this is happening to my body?

Answer:

Getting back to your pregnancy weight is an important and achievable goal.

First, you must realize that it takes a year to get back to your pre-pregnancy state, meaning it takes a year for all the bodily processes and hormone levels to get back to their "normal states" before you were pregnant.

If you are breastfeeding, you will burn more calories in the first several months that can help you lose weight. There is also a diuretic phase, in which you lose water, that occurs in the first 12 weeks after delivery.

You are doing all the right things, your calorie intake is sufficient if you continue to exercise daily at least 60 minutes. Also, remember that you have to eat at regular intervals. Eat 5-6 small meals a day in order to lose weight.
 
If you go long periods without eating, the body perceives that it is in a starvation state and thus will adjust its metabolic rate and slow down all the processes. Thus, your body will hold on to fat as a reserve.

Although it is difficult with a newborn, you must also make sure that you are getting enough sleep. Poor sleep can also contribute to weight gain and retention. Make sure that you also eat a diet with plenty of protein, low fat and limited refined sugars.

 

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Response by:

Esa M Davis, MD, MPH Esa M Davis, MD, MPH
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Family Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University