If that seems like a painstakingly long amount of time, it's possible that we've been reading too many gossip rags.

According to the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) women should not put themselves under too much pressure straight away.

The Institute also warns that overdoing early weight loss attempts could have a negative impact on breastfeeding.

Pounds will fall off - but not as fast for some people

The Institute's director, Peter Sawiki says this about individual progress;

Often, the extra effort women have to make to look after a new baby and breastfeed after giving birth means the kilos just melt away without effort - but for about half of all women, the weight will not go away as quickly.

Don't take eating for 2 out of context

Upon reviewing the evidence, the institute concludes that women who put on a lot of weight during pregnancy have a more difficult time losing it - even beyond a year post-partum. According to Sawiki, it is not a good idea to forget about your weight until after the baby is born - especially if you are heavier to begin with, or prone to weight gain.

Says Sawiki

Women need to eat well enough for themselves and their babies, but pregnancy is not a time to overeat.

A lot of post-pregnancy exercise won't always help

Many women are tempted to jump back into a vigorous exercise routine to help accelerate the post-baby bulge. For many, however this isn't always helpful. The institute recommends taking it easy for the first while, and focusing on healthy eating. Sawiki also cautions however, that women should not leave taking care of themselves for too long after the baby is born.

In my opinion, return to exercise should definitely be gradual and women should focus on regaining strength through some resistance training when they are ready. They can begin with some lighter activity such as walking, biking or swimming, and perform core and other postural exercises to help counter the static and repetitive postures experienced post-partum (carrying, feeding). Full intensity resistance training can resume when they feel ready.

To summarize

  • Do your best to ignore stories of celebs losing their baby weight at warm speed. They are under pressure to do so, and have the means to do so quicker than most (trainers, nutritionists, chefs, nannies). Plus, many of them were thin to begin with.
  • When pregnant, eat healthily, eat enough, but don't overdo it.
  • Exercise during pregnancy (at a reduced intensity), and ease back into it post-partum.