Slow and steady postpartum weight loss is healthy. Losing weight too quickly can affect your general well-being, your hemoglobin levels and your milk production. From a medical perspective, it is important that you go down to the weight you had before the pregnancy since there is otherwise a greater risk of complications such as high blood pressure in your next pregnancy.
There is some scientific evidence that breastfeeding increases postpartum weight loss. But this applies to some and not all, and for some women it has no effect. Physical activity is good from many aspects, but looking at your diet and how many calories you consume has the greatest effect in terms of post-partum weight loss. If you’re struggling to lose weight, cut back on fast carbohydrates such as sweets, potato chips and baked goods. Eat a variety of foods.
There are many advantages to a balanced diet. It can help improve your appetite if you’re struggling with that, and it can calm sugar cravings if that’s your issue. Eat from as many food groups as possible to help with the uptake of vitamins and minerals. Combining vitamin C with iron-rich food is one good example. Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron better and this stabilizes your hemoglobin levels.
On the other hand, some women struggle not to lose too much too quickly. Doing so can be very straining, both in terms of energy and general well-being. When you breastfeed, your body needs more energy than when you don’t. You get the extra energy through the food you eat. Normally, a woman needs between 1,800 and 2,000 calories every day. If you breastfeed a baby, this increases by an additional 200 to 500 calories every day.
However, if you lose too much weight even though you are consuming enough calories, you may have a thyroid condition. If so, consult the physician at the midwife clinic you visited during your pregnancy, or contact your healthcare clinic for help.
Sex and intimacy
Your libido and relationships need attention too if you’re in a relationship. It could take a while before you feel ready to have sex again, but your relationship and closeness to each other needs nurturing. There is no medical reason not to have sex now, but a lack of desire is normal. Fatigue, or a baby that demands much of your attention and focus, together with hormonal exhaustion, can block your sex drive. It might be good to know that as many as 50% of all women who have given birth experience pain during intercourse up to six months after delivery. If the desire is there but you are experiencing discomfort, a lubricant can help as can local estrogen and engaging in other types of sex than sexual intercourse. Start by being close to each other, cuddling and stroking each other. Allow yourself to feel, give each other closeness and space.
Source: - Janson, P.O. & Landgren, B. (red.) (2010). Gynekologi. (1. uppl.) Lund: Studentlitteratur. - Kaplan, A. (red.) (2009). Lärobok för barnmorskor. (3., omarb. uppl.) Lund: Studentlitteratur. - Myles, M.F., Marshall, J.E. & Raynor, M.D. (red.) (2014). Myles textbook for midwives. (16th edition). Edinburgh: Elsevier. - Savage S. J. (2020). A Fourth Trimetser Action Plan for Wellness. The Journal of Perinatal Education. Apr 1;29(2):103-112. DOI: 10.1891/J-PE-D-18-00034