Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
According to the authors of a study from 2019, weight gain during pregnancy can significantly affect the overall health of women. Thanks to gradual postpartum weight loss, you will reduce the risk of further weight gain and avoid future overweight or obesity.
Give your body time
But you should definitely not start losing weight headlong. On the contrary, approach the whole process carefully and with respect. The body needs some time to recover and regenerate after giving birth. In the case of a more difficult birth or cesarean section, you must wait at least 6 weeks before you start safe weight loss. The gynecologist will help you with the ideal timing on the basis of a postpartum examination.
Even the speed of weight loss is not a good hurry. The ideal weight loss during breastfeeding should be between 1 and 2 kg per month.
How long will it take to return to your original weight?
The time required to return to the original weight before pregnancy is very individual and varies from woman to woman. You can lose about 6 kg by birth, which includes the weight of the baby, the placenta, and amniotic fluid. The number of pounds lost can vary depending on the size of the baby and also how much water you retained during pregnancy.
The rate of weight loss during breastfeeding is affected by several factors
- Metabolic rate
- Diet set
- Level of physical activity
- Kilograms taken during pregnancy
The weight loss process may take longer if you have gained more than 13 kg during pregnancy.
The good news: Breastfeeding itself helps with weight loss
Breastfeeding is a natural way to lose weight because it is very energy-intensive. Research has shown that fully breastfeeding mothers burn an average of 500-700 extra calories a day, which corresponds to one main meal or a larger snack, or an hour of moderate-intensity exercise.
TIP: Use a breastfeeding calorie calculator to find out the approximate recommended daily intake for yourself.
In addition, responsible breastfeeding mothers closely monitor their diet. Thanks to a lower intake of processed foods and a higher consumption of lean meat, fruits, vegetables, cereals, nuts, and seeds, they naturally support weight loss and an early return to fitness.
What about the study?
A recent study looked at women who exclusively breastfed their babies for at least 3 months. Already during the first month, they lost an average of 1.5 kg more than women who fed the baby completely or partially with infant formula. Moreover, the longer the mothers breastfed, the more significant weight loss awaited them. Unfortunately, full breastfeeding is not always possible. In that case, do not lose your composure and continue with your plan.
Why do some women not lose weight while breastfeeding?
Unfortunately, no one promises you natural weight loss during breastfeeding. According to one study, many women lose up to 86% of their weight gained during pregnancy within 6 months of giving birth. However, another study found no difference in weight loss between breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers. There are several reasons why some women have weight loss problems while breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding can promote hunger and make you eat more. A recent study has shown that some women consume more food while breastfeeding and at the same time move less. The result is the stagnation of weight and inhibition of weight loss.
- Many new mothers struggle with irregular and intermittent sleep. However, lack of rest causes an increase in hunger and appetite, which weight loss does not indicate.
9 tips for healthy weight loss during breastfeeding
1. Watch out for a mild caloric deficit
A slight caloric deficit is needed for effective weight loss. However, this does not mean that you have to significantly reduce your diet and consume fewer calories.
By drastically reducing your calorie intake, you can lose the necessary nutrients, feel more tired and starving. In addition, according to a recent study, an inappropriate diet worsens the production and quality of breast milk. You will do much better if you create a deficit by increasing physical activity, such as walking with a stroller and regular breastfeeding.
2. Eat more often in smaller portions
Forget about reduction diets that reduce the quality of breast milk. Follow the principles of rational eating. Breastfeeding mothers should receive at least 7,000 kJ per day to obtain sufficient nutrients and maintain breast milk production. Regular nutrition is also important to prevent feelings of hunger.
TIP: Eat 4 to 6 times a day and make sure that the spacing between meals is no longer than 2 to 4 hours.
3. Pay attention to the variety of food
Prefer foods rich in nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Of particular importance is the B complex including folic acid, vitamin D, provitamin A, iodine, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, and iron.
Include plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and unsweetened dairy products in your diet. At the same time, avoid white flour products, sweets, and fried foods.
Eat more foods rich in protein and fiber. Research has confirmed that if you replace processed products with foods full of protein and fiber, you will avoid feelings of hunger and will be full for a long time after eating.
4. Think about getting enough healthy fats
Foods containing unsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3 and omega-6) are absolutely essential for the healthy development of the child and his nervous system, but they also help with healthy weight loss. Beneficial fats can be found in fish, seafood, cold-pressed oils, nuts, seeds and avocados.
5. Keep healthy foods close at hand
Recent study has shown that breastfeeding mothers prefer foods that are visible and easily accessible. So stock up on healthy food and nutritious snacks. Keep fresh vegetables and fruits insight every day.
6. Keep your body hydrated
An adequate drinking regime is important not only for lactation but also for easier weight loss. According to the study, regular intake of unsweetened drinks brings energy and good condition. Try to drink at least 2.5 liters of clean water every day. Drinking can be partially replaced by soups and vegetables and fruits with a high proportion of water.
7. Eat slowly and consciously
Research has shown that if it takes you less than 20 minutes to consume food, or if anything distracts you while eating, you can unnecessarily consume up to 72% more calories. Therefore, sit down to a quiet meal and ideally while your child is asleep.
8. Sleep whenever you can
Because a lack of sleep can increase your appetite, try to compensate for intermittent night’s sleep with a few 30-minute naps during the day. Take advantage of the moments when the baby is sleeping and join him with rest. Thanks to sleep, your body will recover faster and the loss of excess kilograms will be accelerated.
9. Start with a light exercise
According to systematic research from 2017, physical activity together with a balanced diet can contribute to the promotion of healthy weight loss after childbirth.
You do not have to be afraid of movement after childbirth. As soon as your doctor allows you to return to exercise, try yoga, rehabilitation exercises, and regular stroller walks. Mild physical activity in combination with a suitable diet helps maintain muscle mass, promotes healthy weight loss, and at the same time does not endanger lactation.
But don’t overdo it with exercise intensity. If the muscles perform more demanding work, lactic acid is released into them, which passes into the milk. It can adversely affect the taste of milk. Therefore, choose less demanding movements, such as longer walks, bike rides, or swimming.
TIP: After more demanding physical activity with breastfeeding, wait at least 1.5 to 2 hours.
Leslie E. Lesh, a nutritionist, discourages mothers and nutritionists from demanding and hasty exercise during breastfeeding :
Be sure not to start exercising until after the sixth week. Exercise should not be too intense so as not to worsen milk production. Initially, only sharper walks will suffice.
When to seek help?
If you are afraid of losing weight after giving birth, see a doctor, nutritionist, or nutritionist. An expert with experience in postpartum weight loss will evaluate your health and diet, and suggest the ideal procedure.
Do not push on the saw
The most important step to losing weight while breastfeeding is patience. Don’t push the saw and give your body time to go through important life changes. You will see that you will gradually reach your dream weight and keep your body in shape – without stress and with a smile on your face.
Drinking and Breastfeeding Rules
Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. Generally, moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing.
Smoking Weed And Breastfeeding
It’s very unlikely that it’s safe to smoke cannabis while you’re breastfeeding. Traces of the active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) will be passed on to your baby through your milk. THC can stay in the body for up to six weeks, so it builds up over time. The more you smoke, the more of an effect it could have on your baby.
Foods To Avoid When Nursing
Some Fish, Coffee, and Tea, Alcohol Chocolate Parsley, Peppermint and Sage, Garlic, “Gassy” Foods, Medicines to Avoid While Breastfeeding.
Medicines to Avoid While Breastfeeding
- Antihistamine and decongestant combinations, such as Dimetapp
- Thiazide diuretics
Smoking while breastfeeding effects on baby
Babies exposed to smoke via breastfeeding are more susceptible to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and the development of allergy-related diseases like asthma. Nicotine present in breast milk can lead to behavioral changes in a baby-like crying more than usual.
Rebecca Marie, MA, LMHC, LPC, MAA is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and is an expert in anxiety, stress, depression, and relationship issues.