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How to Lose Weight Postpartum with PCOS

So mama, you just had a baby.

First and foremost, huge congratulations are in order! Whether this is your first pregnancy or your fifth, bringing life into this world is life-changing. Pregnancy and postpartum can be absolutely beautiful, but they can definitely come with their own set of unique physical, mental, and emotional challenges.

During pregnancy and postpartum, it can be considered normal to experience nagging nausea, increased mental health challenges, stretch marks, acne, and yes, weight gain. Weight gain is very obviously a necessary part of pregnancy, so this article is not about judgement or criticism. You just grew a human!

At the same time, it’s understandable that you may not want to keep that weight gain around forever. As such, you may set goals for yourself to aim for your pre-pregnancy weight or even more. We love setting out on a new lifestyle journey, too, boo!

You’ve got the fancy new yoga pants, you’re rocking your Peloton classes, you’ve cut carbs or started your new diet, and…nothing. What could be happening to stop your weight loss goals in their tracks?

When everything’s going right on the outside, it can be time to look inwards to see what may not be going right on the inside. Hormonally, PCOS could be the culprit, especially if PCOS was present before your pregnancy. 

As a Registered Dietitian, I work with women who come to me with all types of challenges that stop them from losing weight – particularly PCOS. Because even when it’s all going right, PCOS can throw a wrench in all of your hard work, and you don’t deserve that boo. 

Let’s talk about how PCOS can impact your efforts and how to take control of your postpartum weight loss. It starts with understanding what exactly causes PCOS weight gain and postpartum fluctuations. Knowledge is power!

Why does PCOS cause weight gain? 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS, is a righteous b*tch. From the acne to wonky periods to the weight gain – she hits us in more ways than one. 

postpartum weight gain

She doesn’t care about all the work you could be putting in to lose weight, because she influences your body in a bunch of different ways. The biggest culprit usually being insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when PCOS influences your pancreas to make more of the hormone insulin – promoting extra fat storage AND increasing hunger – a b*tch right? On top of insulin resistance, PCOS can also influence hormones like androgens that regulate hunger and fullness only further contributing to weight gain. 

Outside of insulin resistance, those impacts on other hormones and their physical effects can have a known impact on your mental health. The data is clear that women with PCOS are prone to higher incidences of anxiety and depression. A vicious cycle begins when a woman with PCOS develops harsh physical and mental symptoms and a perceived lack of self-control that puts a huge damper on her lifestyle goals, causing more issues and struggles to make any headway on her weight loss. 

These combined issues can also throw other things off in the body. Not only can these PCOS symptoms cause weight gain, but it puts you at risk for other serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, and even uterine cancer. It makes sense why getting your PCOS under control is the top priority when it comes to weight loss and your health. 

Now, let’s factor in what’s happening postpartum and how it impacts your weight loss.

What Happens Postpartum

PCOS aside (let’s just forget about her momentarily), what’s happening to a woman’s body postpartum? 

When you get pregnant, your body goes through a crazy big shift and starts creating all kinds of amazing hormones to nourish that little life from beginning to end. And in the end, those same plentiful hormones go through yet another shift, right back down. And they shift back down rather abruptly at that.

Some of the main hormones that are trying desperately to regulate are: 

  • Progesterone

  • Estrogen

  • Prolactin

  • Relaxin

  • Dopamine 

  • Serotonin 

  • Melatonin

Phew, that’s a lot! 

Typically, there can be an adjustment period over a few weeks to a few months. That said, hormonal shifts don’t operate like clockwork, and every person is different. Trying to juggle these shifts, your new postpartum body, lifestyle changes, and a new little human can understandably make postpartum weight loss difficult. 

Regardless, your body worked hard to bring that baby into this world and it’s continuing to work hard to bring things back to normal. That’s something to feel accomplished for mama. 

Why Do I Still Have PCOS Postpartum?

When your hormones start to reset, it can feel like a lot. Which after looking at everything that’s regulating above, it’s more than understandable. But it’s been a few months, and things still aren’t feeling quite right, your periods aren’t normal, and the postpartum weight just won’t budge.

Unfortunately, if PCOS was a part of your life pre-pregnancy, it’s very, very likely to be a part of your life post-pregnancy. As we read above, PCOS has the potential to wreak havoc on the body and mind. Having PCOS in general can make weight loss more difficult, combining it with all of the changes your body is dealing with postpartum can make it even harder. Your hormones start to return to their pre-pregnancy state, which includes their PCOS state and the challenges that come with it. 

Your body is fighting against two different foes.

But don’t worry babe, you’re not alone. Myself and tons of other PCOS ladies have been through this exact journey and achieved the weight loss goals they’ve set for themselves postpartum despite dealing with PCOS. 

How to Lose Weight Postpartum with PCOS

I promise you mama bear there’s a light at the end of this road. As I said above, you’re not alone, and losing weight postpartum with PCOS really is possible. 

The first thing to understand is that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how to lose weight with PCOS – especially postpartum. We are all beautifully unique, and that includes how we cater our lifestyle to be the best versions of ourselves. To lose weight postpartum with PCOS you need to start with: 

  • Controlling your blood sugars (remember that insulin resistance?)

  • Learning how to monitor and balance your hormones

  • Setting feasible small goals that lead to a bigger one

  • Making reasonable, non-restrictive changes in your lifestyle that actually last

Together, I’ll help you learn the real strategies you need to lose weight quickly, step into the best version of yourself, regain your badass sexy confidence, and keep the weight off for life. Click below to learn how you can join me and a ton of other women with PCOS in taking charge of your PCOS. 

Are you looking to start your pregnancy or trying to conceive journey? 

Don’t let PCOS stop you. I work with tons of amazing women with PCOS who have struggled to get pregnant with PCOS, and together we make your journey possible. I created the world’s most comprehensive and up-to-date program to help women with PCOS successfully get pregnant, naturally. Click below to learn more and get started:

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