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Why Is it So Hard to Lose Baby Weight?

By Carolyn Robbins ; Updated June 13, 2017

After months of waddling and feeling huge, weight loss is an understandable concern for many women in the postpartum period. Unfortunately, a variety of factors that accompany a new baby may make it difficult to slim down. It's important to recognize that losing weight after having a baby is difficult for almost everyone. Despite what the tabloids would have you believe, most women do not leave the hospital wearing size 6 jeans. Keep your expectations realistic and focus on an overall healthy lifestyle. Discuss weight-related concerns with your physician.

Sleep Isn't for the Weak

In a culture always on the go, sleep is at the bottom of the pile of priorities. Even if your little one gives you a few uninterrupted hours at night, it can be tempting to use the quiet time to catch up on laundry or send a few emails. Unfortunately, insufficient sleep will undermine your weight-loss efforts. Sleep deprivation will leave you too tired to exercise and will scramble the hormones that keep your appetite in check, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Follow your mother's advice to sleep when the baby sleeps and the scale may start to budge.

Stressed Out Mess

For most parents, particularly first-timers, the months following a baby's birth are overwhelming. Worries about your baby's weight gain, feeding habits, safety and health are enough to make anyone frantic. Chronic stress may impair your ability to make good lifestyle choices, according to the University of California. If you reach for a bag of cookies when the baby starts to wail, you're not alone -- many mothers share the same struggle. The first step in overcoming the anxious impediment to weight loss is to recognize that this stage in your life is extraordinarily stressful. Simply acknowledging the way you feel may keep you from binging. Then, learn a few stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing and meditation.

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Fighting Biology

While the bulk of weight you put on during pregnancy is baby and placenta, your body also increases fat stores to ensure you'll have adequate energy to feed your little one. Not surprisingly, your body doesn't want to let go of those carefully built fat stores once you give birth. The La Leche League International reports that breastfeeding mothers may lose between 1.3 to 1.6 pounds per month in the first four to six months, and weight loss may slow even more in the months to follow. Mothers of formula-fed babies may struggle more because they aren't burning calories through lactation.

Adjust Your Expectations

Stressing about the scale won't help, and will probably hurt, your weight-loss efforts, so try and relax. Don't even think about dieting for the first two months after your baby is born, recommends the La Leche League International. Focus on eating well and start to exercise regularly once your doctor clears you for physical activity. Sleep as much as possible and ask family to help you manage the stress of caring for a baby.

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