Gaining weight during a pregnancy is both natural and normal and should not be avoided. However after the baby is born weight, loss comes a little less natural to many women. Losing the weight from a baby can be a difficult and stressful. As a mother of two I know how it feels to be trying so hard to lose weight, to be doing all the right things from diet to exercise and to be losing nothing. Hopping on that scale every day and seeing the same or even higher numbers is a heart breaking experience. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is important to recognize that there are medical reasons a woman may not lose weight after a pregnancy or may even gain weight. It is entirely possible your weight problems are not entirely your fault.
The following medical explanations can be found for weight gain after pregnancy or an inability to lose weight despite rigorous exercise and a balance diet.
Becoming a mother responsible for the life of another being is unquestionably an exciting yet stressful situation. Many new mothers and even mothers having subsequent children find themselves under a great deal of stress just caring for their children.
Stress triggers a chemical reaction in the body hardwired from ancient times when stress usually meant mortal peril. The response releases a certain hormones including cortisol that can increase appetite and cause the body to store more fat around the mid-section, which also happens to be where most postpartum mothers have that lovely mom pouch. (You can find some tips on losing that here.) Many women also have formed a behavior tendency to eat in reaction to stress and may not even notice they are doing so.
An estimated 49% of women experience some form of depression after pregnancy. Postpartum depression can range anywhere from a little case of the baby blues, to postpartum depression to post partum pyschosis. Depression after pregnancy can have a number of causes including hormonal changes, brain chemistry changes, lifestyle influences, stress, and genetics.
Just why depression often leads to weight gain or an inability to lose weight is not clear. Some studies suggest the same hormone linking stress to weight gain cortisol may be responsible. Others feel it’s that depression often causes a lack of motivation and drive, which can lead to less or less than properly performed exercise. Depression may also lead to emotional eating.
Around 5-7% of all women experience thyroid problems after pregnancy. Called postpartum thyroiditis, this condition causes instable levels of hormone production by the thyroid ranging from too much (hyperthyroidism) to too little (hypothyroidism).
While an overactive thyroid will result in weight loss, an underactive thyroid will result in weight gain. The overall instability of the thyroid in women with this condition can cause simply no weight change even with exercise and diet. Thyroid problems will sometimes resolve themselves after a pregnancy and sometimes require treatment.
Pregnancy, labor and what follows all have a dramatic effect on the body’s hormone balance. These fluctuations can cause all sorts of havoc including weight gain or an inability to lose weight. As many women consider a birth control method after pregnancy, this can also increase hormonal imbalances.
Hormones affect a woman’s metabolism, when they are not balanced and working correctly weight gain, loss, or inability to change ones weight can result.
There are also several syndrome’s that can cause weight loss issues that are not pregnancy related but may become more prevalent during or after pregnancy including:
-Cushing’s syndrome, which also releases cortisol.
-Polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes severe hormone imbalance.
-Sydrome X or insulin resistance, which causes hormone inefficiency.
This brief look at a few reasons a woman may be unable to loss weight or would even gain weight after a pregnancy is not meant to suggest a woman cannot lose weight after having a baby. You can do it, don’t give up hope. Rather it is to address issues that may be standing in the way of your goals. Exercise and a healthy diet are also recommended.
Seven Medical explanations for weight gain:
How stress makes you fat:
Percentage of women who experience depression after pregnancy:
What causes depression after pregnancy?
Depression and weight gain linked:
Postpartum thyroid problems:
Hormones after childbirth:
Hormones and weight gain: