After pregnancy, it is very natural to start longing to get back in shape. Now. Or yesterday, actually. And for a lot of women, that includes a desire to lose weight already while breastfeeding.
This article will walk you through some useful guidelines and tips for weight loss, as well as the pros and cons of losing weight while breastfeeding. Have you already tried to lose weight, but it doesn’t work? You can read about that too.
If you don’t breastfeed, following a strict diet will not affect your child’s health through his or her nutrition, obviously, but while breastfeeding, it is your own well-being and that of your baby to take into account.
This does not mean you can’t lose weight while breastfeeding, but it does impose a few restrictions or recommendations. Unless monitored or at least carried out properly, the breastfeeding mother could harm her health by dieting. In addition, the milk supply could be affected. But don’t despair. If carried out sensibly, utilizing the time while breastfeeding is a great window of opportunity to lose that baby fat!
How To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
- The Possible Complications
- The Benefits of Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
- How To Properly Lose Weight While Lactating
- I Don’t Lose Weight, Why?
- Isn’t Breastfeeding Enough To Lose Weight?
- Useful Resources to Help Your Weight loss
The Possible Complications
- If a weight loss program is adopted before the supply of breast milk stabilizes, it could affect adequate supply.
- If you strive for quick weight loss, this would mean calorie levels would drop significantly, and this can also affect supply.
- Mom’s nutrition and health will be affected more than the health of the baby since nature makes sure the breast milk is as good as possible at the expense of mom.
- Breast milk can, however, be contaminated if a quick weight loss program is started because the mom’s body may release toxins into breast milk.
- Exercise right before nursing can change the taste of the breast milk and make it taste bitter. Too much exercise can lower the supply as well.
The Benefits of Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
- You will begin to feel better, might have less risk of experiencing postpartum depression, and will hopefully more easily accept other changes in your post-pregnancy body.
- A happier mother will make for a happier home.
- Since a mom who breastfeeds naturally needs more calories to produce the milk, calorie intake does not have to be as low to lose weight as when not breastfeeding.
How To Properly Lose Weight While Lactating
First of all, any kind of diet or weight loss program must begin at least eight weeks after the start of breastfeeding. This is to ensure that the milk supply will not be limited or depleted quickly.
Maintain a minimum of 1,500 – 1,800 calories per day regardless of the kind of diet or exercise program, probably in most cases 1,800. This is mainly to ensure Mom (not just the baby) receives all the nutrition she needs.
In addition, eating less than 1,800 calories per day is likely to make you tired and in a bad mood. Not the best starting point for caring for a baby around the clock.
If the plan to lose weight while breastfeeding is limited to a weight loss of 1.5 lbs (0.7kg) per week, the mom and milk should be safe, according to studies. Any weight loss significantly greater than this is again risky for the mother and indirectly for the baby.
Never start any kind of fad diet or other types of quick-fix solutions, such as weight loss medication, extreme one-food diets, liquid diets, et cetera. These types of diets are usually very low-calorie and poorly put together from a nutrition perspective.
I Don’t Lose Weight, Why?
Many women who breastfeed their babies tend to lose weight naturally, while other women tend to gain more when breastfeeding. There may be a genetic connection to this, but I believe a major reason is that you get so darn hungry after breastfeeding.
A key is, of course, to avoid all high-calorie snacks and fill up with healthy snacks and water. And eat proper food. Easier said than done sometimes as a new mom, but it sure helps if you want to lose weight.
For a clue to what is going on, download some app to keep track of your eating. Sometimes we eat many more calories than we may think. Try to avoid quick carbohydrates as much as possible – i.e. sugar of all kinds…
Isn’t Breastfeeding Enough To Lose Weight?
Yes, it is possible that breastfeeding itself can be a reason for weight loss, due to the higher calorie burn by producing the milk. However, as explained above there really is no hard and fast rule about it.
But if you combine a limited calorie intake, eating healthy foods and snacks with spread throughout the day with some post-pregnancy exercising, chances are great that you will lose some of that baby fat.
A study already in 2007 suggested that the combination of dieting and exercising is more effective post-partum than just to diet. (Sounds pretty obvious, don’t you think?!) So get going with those stroller walks, mama!
Useful Resources to Help Your Weight Loss
Losing weight while breastfeeding is not so much about finding any magic diet, but to find ways to eat well despite often being both super busy and exhausted. It is also about to get moving, one way or the other.
- If finding structure in your culprit, meal planning might be your answer! I found meal planning a huge challenge as a new mom. I was just too tired! If you want help with meal planning, the 5$ meal plan is a very affordable, excellent service!
- If you really need to lose weight and find it overwhelming, allow yourself to sign up for either some service that specifically targets new moms, or one of the proven institutes for weight loss, such as Weight Watchers.
- A fun, crazy, way to find motivation is to make a game out of it! I just found out about this service. It looks crazy, but it is legit and based on research on what motivates people. You bet money and can earn money by losing weight! You enter your desired weight loss and your bet (real money!) and if you succeed you win! And you win an amount you’ll know from the start, it is certain and way more than you bet. (If you don’t succeed, you lose your bet.) I actually like this. (Maybe because I like games.) I’ll have my husband try it too. You can play as a team too. Check it out and play with your potential prize here.
Finally, you can learn more about losing weight while breastfeeding is a sensible way in any of these excellent books:
- Eat Well, Lose Weight While Breastfeeding: The Complete Nutrition Book for Nursing Mothers, Including a Healthy Guide to the Weight Loss Your Doctor Promised
- One Hot Mama: The Guide to Getting Your Mind and Body Back After Baby
- Mother Food: A Breastfeeding Diet Guide with Lactogenic Foods and Herbs – Build Milk Supply, Boost Immunity, Lift Depression, Detox, Lose Weight, Optimize a Baby’s IQ, and Reduce Colic and Allergies
I hope this gives you a boost and some ideas to help you start taking care of your body! :-)
References on losing weight while breastfeeding
- Amorim AR, Linne YM, Lourenco PM.: Diet or exercise, or both, for weight reduction in women after childbirth.
- Kelly Mom: Can I diet while breastfeeding?
- La Leche League: How can I lose weight safely while breastfeeding?
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing are based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians who assist in reviewing and writing articles.