You’re as happy as a clam and as big as a house. You’re about to have a baby and one of the byproducts will be, you hope, losing the baby weight. That day arrives when little junior arrives and you wait. Ah, waiting for the weight to simply fall away. But hold up. Are you not seeing results? What’s this? You have a wonderful, beautiful child, but you’re now saddled with the additional postpartum, baby weight. Oh, no. Here’s how your hormones factor in and what you can do about it.
While it’s natural and necessary to put on weight during pregnancy, you might have unrealistic expectations about shedding those extra pounds. A whole bunch of hormones are changing your body and they don’t just go away once the baby is born. During pregnancy, human placental lactogen (HPL) was being produced to promote insulin resistance so that you could increase your blood glucose to feed your baby in utero. Its second role is to increase visceral fat stores that get utilized during breastfeeding. Here’s where some hormones actually promote weight loss.
Breastfeeding is by far, the easiest way to lose baby weight. When you breastfeed, the HPL is replaced by Prolactin, which supports lactation, reduces estrogen levels and mobilizes all the nutrients stored up in order to feed your child. This Prolactin resets your metabolism and revs it up. Consider breastfeeding for this benefit, but more so because of the great health advantages for your child. If you experience difficulties breastfeeding, but still want to try, get a lactation nurse to come to you and set up regular visits until you and baby get into a groove. Lactation experts are the assistance and support you need to keep trying when all you want to do is feed your child, and you can’t. Get the support you need. You deserve it.
Breastfeeding also requires an additional 500 calories a day to produce the milk you need to feed the baby. If you cut about 500 calories a day, you can in a sustainable and healthy way, cut more of the baby weight off.
Stabilizing your hormones after having the baby is your goal and is essential to losing the baby weight. If you are experiencing constipation, irritability, fatigue, weight gain, or depression, you may have a condition known as postpartum thyroiditis. It’s fairly common and, yet, often under-diagnosed. The symptoms are fairly ubiquitous among all new mothers, so this diagnosis is missed most times. It’ll often show up 4-9 months after delivery. A simple blood test will reveal if your thyroid is not producing enough of its hormone.
If you are having trouble sleeping, craving sweets, experiencing weight gain and fatigue, you may be struggling with estrogen dominance and not even know it. Other symptoms for new mothers would be if the baby has weaned off breastfeeding early or you aren’t able to breastfeed the baby. Estrogen and progesterone levels should be stable and balanced, roughly 1 to 5, hormonally, on day 21 of a woman’s cycle. When your estrogen is dominant, your hormones will be imbalanced and you may have a bona fide condition that needs attention. Supplements and lifestyle changes can impact the reduction of estrogen dominance and therefore reduce weight gain and cravings, as well as the other symptoms.
Eat your carbs
No, really. Especially the healthy yams, squashes, and kinds of rice. If you limit your carbs you disrupt a number of hormones during this time. You might stress your adrenal glands, or put too much pressure on your thyroid. It’s best to eat at least 100 grams of carbohydrates a day in order to meet the needs of your postpartum body, especially if you want to keep your hormones in balance and lose the baby weight.
Don’t stress the small stuff. When you stress, cortisol levels ( cortisol is produced by your adrenal glands) shoot through the roof. At this point, weight loss becomes very difficult. Limit your caffeinated beverages. Practice stress-reducing activities like reading, meditation, yoga, walking, or sleeping. Lowering your stress will lower your cortisol levels, which will make it easier to take the weight off and keep it off.
Remember that your hormones are involved in the process of making, delivering, and caring for your baby. They can also be involved (and are!) in helping you to keep the weight off, lose the weight, and maintain a healthy weight. Now if there were only a hormone for laundry.