Lose Weight While Breastfeeding Your Baby
When I was pregnant I kept hearing how I’d lose weight while breastfeeding. Other moms said weight just fell off of them when breastfeeding. I looked forward to nursing my baby and really looked forward to losing even just a few extra pounds me since I put on lots of it during my pregnancy.
I looked at those pre-pregnancy clothes in my closet for months and months.
Finally, I gave in and bought new clothes after wearing my maternity pants for so long that I’m almost ashamed to say how long. Okay, I was nearly five months postpartum before I bought a single new piece of clothing that fit me. It would have been awesome if I slid back into my pre-pregnancy clothing within a few months of giving birth. Then sometime around seven or eight months postpartum, I started to lose weight while breastfeeding, but not as much as I expected.
Meanwhile, I watched as friends dropped the pregnancy weight, fast!
I’ve rarely been jealous of anyone in my life, even still at nearly 40 years old. I’m pretty happy with my body, always have been. It’s pretty awesome what it’s been through and continues to carry on! I admit though, I felt a little cheated and defeated! I didn’t lose weight while breastfeeding. Sure, I lost the water weight and I dropped some weight slowly, but it did NOT fall off or melt away like I was told it would. Was there something wrong with me? Later, as I began my career working with expectant and new parents I learned that some women need to hold onto the extra weight. Turns out I was completely “normal”!
Some women just don’t lose weight while breastfeeding!
Hormones are partly to blame. Prolactin, the essential hormone responsible for milk production can also reduce your body’s ability to metabolize fat. Especially during the first six months of breastfeeding. Generally speaking, moms who are breastfeeding will need to take in between 1800-2200 calories or more per day. Consuming less than 1500-1800 calories per day may put a woman’s milk supply in danger. A person’s baseline caloric needs depend upon their activity level, weight, and nutritional status. So naturally, a person’s ability to lose weight while breastfeeding will vary.
Like many thing in life there’s a wide range of normal!
Exclusively breastfeeding moms need about 300-500 extra calories each day. That’s right at or above what they “need” during the third trimester of pregnancy. Take in too few calories and your metabolism slows down to conserve and will hold onto that “extra” weight you gained in pregnancy. This is your body’s natural response and helps you maintain weight instead of losing it. Take in too many calories and you risk gaining weight or holding onto the weight just the same.
Another reason you may not lose weight while breastfeeding is lack of sleep!
Sleep is an essential ingredient for a healthy life. Your mental, physical, and emotional health depend on good sleep quality at the right quantity. Chronic sleep debt can sabotage all your valiant efforts.
Oh, my gawd!
So, you’re a new mom who needs sleep to heal and function optimally. You also have a new baby who needs your boobs, basically around the clock for nourishment and comfort. A new baby, learning to breastfeed, and quality sleep aren’t typically things that mesh well together. So, what’s a new mom to do?
Funny story, when I was nursing our 2nd son I felt like a giant cow. I almost dressed up as a cow for Halloween that year after telling my husband during a shopping trip while walking and nursing our son, “I swear I feel like a cow always being milked,” and then I turned around to see a cow costume in front of us in Target. We both busted out laughing, but if I’m being honest I shed some tears in Target that day..
So what gives? Are you screwed?
Nah! Not at all!
Here are 5 tips to help you lose weight while breastfeeding if you are struggling to shed any of the pregnancy weight by 3 months postpartum:
- Stick to water instead of drinks that are moderate or high in sugars. Love your coffee? That’s cool, keep that cup of coffee, but cut the sugar and use a teaspoon of honey or pure maple syrup instead.
- Exercise daily in a way that’s appropriate for you. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure what appropriate is for you!
- Breastfeeding your baby frequently and for longer than six months can help increases weight loss.
- Reduce your stress levels by taking time out of EVERY day for you!
- Eat at least 1500-1800 calories per day, most moms need to stay at the high end of that range. Try eating lots of healthy snacks instead of 3 meals each day.
Still on the struggle bus?
If you struggle like I did to lose weight while breastfeeding it may help you to know, you’re not alone. Many women, just like you and me experience a pause in weight loss. While it can make you feel defeated it’s important to stay the course! The good news; if you continue to eat and exercise appropriately for your body’s specific needs and abilities and implement little changes along the way you will see weight loss in time. In fact, like me and many other moms who held onto the weight you just might see it start to come off after you stop nursing.
Whether you’re exclusively breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, pumping, or combo feeding The Jax Baby Company is here to help you every step of the way.
Through breastfeeding in the wee hours of the morning, to lots of late nights running together, we’re there to help you maximize your sleep and bond with your baby. We’re here to cheer you on as you head to your Pilates class and to hand you a bottle of water as you nurse your baby after a nice hot shower! We can tap in so you can tap out! Let us lighten your load and help you lose weight while breastfeeding. All you have to do is contact us!
Happy Birth & Parenting,
McCrory MA, et al. Randomized trial of the short-term effects of dieting compared with dieting plus aerobic exercise on lactation performance (link is to full article). Am J Clin Nutr 1999 May;69(5):959-67.
Dewey KG. Effects of maternal caloric restriction and exercise during lactation (link is to full article). J Nutr 1998 Feb;128(2 Suppl):386S-389S.
Journal search on dieting and exercise during lactation