Breastfeeding and Weight Loss

If you are breastfeeding, it is not a good idea to try to lose weight by dieting. However, if you eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, you can still lose weight while breastfeeding. What's the relationship between breastfeeding and weight loss? The process of breastfeeding will naturally burn about 600 calories each day. There are lots of things to watch out for if you want to facilitate weight loss when breastfeeding. 

Can Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight? 

There is not enough research that supports that breastfeeding can help new moms lose weight.  However, as far as caloric burn goes, breastfeeding helps to burn 300-500 calories a day. 

When Can You Start Losing Weight While Breastfeeding? 

During pregnancy, it is important and healthy to gain weight to support the pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby. The weight you gain is the body’s way of preparing for breastfeeding after delivery. During the process of breastfeeding, your body will naturally use these fat stores as long as you do not significantly increase your caloric intake after delivery. 

Since most experts recommend breastfeeding for at least several months after delivery, it is probably important to wait for dramatic weight loss until after you stop breastfeeding. By following a healthy diet including plenty of fluids, you will find that you lose weight gradually but steadily. Skipping meals while breastfeeding is not a good idea. The breast milk you produce is directly related to the quality of the food you eat so it is important to eat regularly – but in moderation. During breastfeeding, you should try to increase your caloric intake by about 300 calories a day, but it is critical that these extra calories are nutritious calories.

How to Facilitate Weight Loss After Birth

Warning: It is critical that you maintain your healthy diet particularly in the first few months after your baby is born. During this time, you and the baby are trying to develop a pattern of breastfeeding and it is important that you maintain your nutrition and caloric intake for three months after delivery in order to build a healthy milk supply. There are a few tips for facilitating weight loss after the birth of your baby:

1. Eat Super Foods

It is important to eat foods that are high in vitamins and minerals and relatively low in fats and calories.

  • Choose cold-water fish that are high in the Omega-3 fatty acids. Try to get two servings each week of salmon, sardines or tuna.
  • Foods high in calcium (milk and yogurt) will help keep your body strong and your breast milk healthy.
  • Lean meat and beans contain the proteins that will help build your blood and keep your body healthy for breastfeeding while also helping keep your weight under control.
  • Click here to learn all about healthy breastfeeding diet. 

Tips on breastfeeing and weight loss: Watch a short video that explains some tips about what to eat and not eat when you get the cravings associated with breastfeeding. In this video, substitutes that satisfy your sweet tooth are discussed. Again, a healthy, well-balanced diet is stressed:

2. Drink Lots of Water

Drinking lots of water each day will help you feel full and wash out toxins. When you fill up with water, you will naturally eat less and will lose weight. Be sure to drink enough water so that your urine is clear and very light yellow.

3. Exercise

While vigorous exercise in the few months after delivery is not recommended, it is important to keep walking and begin some strength training as soon after delivery as possible. Moderate exercise while breastfeeding will help burn calories which should help promote weight loss. In addition, exercise will help relieve stress and promote good sleep both of which will help maintain a good breastfeeding schedule and increase your weight loss. There are some exercises you can do with your baby during the first couple of months after delivery that provide another great way to exercise in a gentle way AND bond with your new child. Think about doing the exercises in this video:

Some additional exercises that you can do at home are also demonstrated in this video: