How Much Weight Do You Lose When You Give Birth?

Few things are more stunning than watching a woman give birth. The moment her baby is born is captured in photographs and videos and shared across social media. But what happens to the weight after the baby is delivered?

The amount of weight a woman loses after giving birth depends on several factors, including, how long she has been pregnant, whether she had the C-section or a vaginal birth, and how much weight she was already carrying. In general, women who have given birth lose about 15 percent of their weight, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The weight lost is usually distributed evenly throughout the body, but it tends to accumulate in the abdomen, according to the Mayo Clinic. The weight loss is usually most significant in the first few days after giving birth. It then starts to gradually taper off as the mother gets enough sleep, feeds the baby, and adjusts to having a newborn.

Here’s a closer look at how much weight you lose after giving birth, based on your medical records:

How Much Weight Do You Lose After Giving Birth?

The amount of weight you lose after giving birth varies according to which survey you look at. A 2015 national survey from the American Institute of Stress found that, on average, women reported losing 7.8 pounds (3.6 kg) after giving birth. A more recent survey from the same group, conducted in 2018, found that, on average, women reported losing 11.8 pounds (5.5 kg) after giving birth. What’s more, 63 percent of the women surveyed said that giving birth had “a pretty significant effect” on their weight. The stress of giving birth, especially having a C-section, was noted as the main reasons for post-partum weight gain.

Other factors that influence how much weight you lose after giving birth include how long you are breastfeeding and how much you exercise once you return to your pre-pregnancy weight. One study noted that women who continued to breastfeed for six months lost about 12 pounds (5.6 kg) compared to women who weaned their baby after three months. The study’s authors also noted that women who performed at least 125 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, gained fewer pounds after childbirth than women who did not exercise. They suggested that exercise is beneficial for both mothers and their newborns.

How Is Your Weight Distribution After Giving Birth?

When a woman gives birth, her abdomen often expands to accommodate the baby. This is mostly due to the hormone progesterone, which is associated with reproduction. As a result, after giving birth, the weight often accumulates in the abdomen. In fact, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, about 20 to 30 percent of the women who give birth will have an “out-of-balance” weight distribution and will need to lose some weight to achieve their desired (pre-pregnancy) weight.

Fortunately, as noted above, this weight loss tends to be concentrated in the abdomen and is not harmful to the mother’s health. It usually takes about six months for the body to return to its pre-pregnancy weight. In the meantime, the mother needs to be careful about what she eats to maintain her strength and good health. She should also bear in mind that, as the weight returns to normal, her clothing might not fit as well, so she’ll have to get used to wearing different sizes. Finally, she needs to make sure that her medical records are up-to-date and that she sees her doctor for regular check-ups, as she needs to be sure that everything is alright. Otherwise, she could face some health problems down the line.