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Many breastfeeding mothers are anxious to get their baby weight off and wonder how to lose pregnancy weight while breastfeeding their baby.
The good news is that breastfeeding itself helps with postpartum weight loss!
There are ways to diet while breastfeeding, but be cautious and go at it slowly.
This is a guest post by Kealy from Little Bear Care. If you’d like to learn more about Kealy, check out more about her at the end of this post! And please note the opinions in this post are not meant to take the place of actual medical advice. You should always seek medical attention if needed.
Breastfeeding Helps With Weight Loss
Breastfeeding itself is fantastic for returning to pre-pregnancy weight! Each time a mom breastfeeds, oxytocin is released in her body. Oxytocin helps her uterus shrink back to pre-pregnancy size.
Most breastfeeding moms’ uterus returns to pre-pregnancy size faster than moms that don’t breastfeed. It generally takes 6 weeks for a breastfeeding mom’s uterus to return to normal.
While pregnant, your body stores up extra fat just for the sake of breastfeeding! If you want to get rid of that extra weight, well, the best way to do so is to use it!
When you breastfeed, your body expresses fat into your breast milk. It’s actually a fascinating process. Not only does your breast milk take fat from your breasts, but it pulls fat from the rest of your body to create a highly nutritional drink for baby!
Your blood pulls fat from your hips, thighs, stomach – and brings it to your breasts! Then the fat is put into your breast milk for your baby. And your baby needs that fat! It’s where they get most of their calories.
Typically, a breastfeeding mom has higher cholesterol levels because of this process. It’s not because of her diet as much as it’s because her blood contains fat for milk-making. After weaning, her cholesterol levels will return to normal.
How Much Weight To Lose While Breastfeeding
It’s common to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per month while breastfeeding. In fact, experts say that 1-2 pounds per month is the optimal amount of weight to lose.
If a mom is significantly overweight, 4-5 pounds per month is acceptable and shouldn’t affect her milk supply. But any more than 5 pounds per month isn’t advised.
Weight loss should be gradual.
A breastfeeding mom needs a minimum of 1800 calories per day to function and produce milk. Many moms eat more than this and still either maintain or lose weight.
Breastfeeding itself burns around 700 calories per day. It’s even more for moms with twins!
The most important thing to do is maintain a balanced diet. A good balance of fruits, veggies, protein and fat will help maintain healthy weight loss.
Fad diets are particularly ill-advised for a breastfeeding mom.
Losing too much weight too fast can affect milk supply. Additionally, breast milk is influenced by a mother’s diet. It’s important to keep eating a balanced variety of good foods.
During the newborn phase, weight loss isn’t recommended either. The first 2-3 weeks of breastfeeding are extremely important for establishing a good milk supply. If you’re itching to diet, the earliest you should start is 2 weeks after birth.
Low Milk Supply And Dieting
As long as it’s not extreme, dieting shouldn’t affect breast milk supply.
Breast milk supply is mostly dependent on how much baby feeds. It’s a supply and demand process, so the more baby breastfeeds the more breast milk will be made. There are malnourished women in many countries that still produce enough breast milk for their babies – as long as they feed frequently and effectively.
Low milk supply is more likely to be caused by a poor latch, inefficient milk transfer, and feeding schedules versus feeding on demand, than mom’s diet.
The problem with extreme dieting is that it can affect daily functions. A mom that is tired with low energy will probably not breastfeed as much or as long. That’s truly the biggest cause of a decrease in milk supply when dieting.
So moms should continue to eat well enough that they feel good and stay healthy. And focus on breastfeeding! Breastfeeding more will help with milk supply and burns calories itself.
If you diet while breastfeeding, just keep an eye on your baby. Make sure they are still gaining weight and seem satisfied after feedings.
The Best Way To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
The best way to lose the baby weight while breastfeeding is to go at it slow and steady! Eat a healthy diet, include fruits and veggies, and eat when you’re hungry!
Many women feel more hungry the 6 months after birth, and find dieting difficult. Sometimes weight loss doesn’t start until 6 months after birth but then is noticeable and quick.
Hormones also play a part in weight loss after birth. Each woman gains weight differently and has a different hormonal balance.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s difficult to lose weight, especially within the first 6 months!
Exercise Contributes To Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
Perhaps the best way to lose weight while breastfeeding is just to add in some exercise. Even without a change in diet, exercise helps weight loss increase.
It can be something as simple as going on a walk in the evenings. Adding a little bit of activity to the day will help with weight loss.
Combined with a balanced diet, the weight should come off. Slow and steady weight loss is the healthiest option for both mommy and baby.
Extreme exercise can decrease milk supply. Sometimes extreme weight loss can cause a woman to not ovulate or have a menstrual cycle. It only makes sense that this type of exercise also causes breast milk supply to be affected.
So instead of training for the Olympics, just add a little activity to your day. It doesn’t have to be extreme to make a difference with postpartum weight loss.
How To Lose Pregnancy Weight While Breastfeeding Baby Conclusion
Weight loss while breastfeeding should be slow and steady!
Eat a balanced diet and continue to breastfeed for the most success.
Don’t be too hard on yourself, remember, your body needs some fat in order to give your baby the gift of breast milk! And as long as you’re enjoying your breastfeeding journey as is, no need to fix what’s not broken!
More posts to read:
- Nighttime breastfeeding tips for the sleepy mom
- Exclusive pumping secrets to pumping more milk
- Practical post-pregnancy weight loss tips
About: Kealy Hawk
Kealy is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and most importantly a mommy! Her own breastfeeding struggles gave her a passion to help moms throughout their breastfeeding journey. She offers one-on-one lactation consultations, breastfeeding classes, and shares her knowledge to equip and empower moms. If you’re interested in talking with her or taking one of her breastfeeding classes, visit www.littlebearcare.com or connect with her via Facebook Breastfeeding Moms Support Group.