New mothers usually struggle with losing the extra weight they pack on during pregnancy, but some struggle more than others.
Breastfeeding mothers have these same struggles. However, while losing weight, women who breastfeed also need to be sure they aren’t negatively affecting their breast milk production or their child’s well being.
Listed below are some tips we recommend for losing weight while providing an adequate supply of breast milk for your baby:
1. Keep your baby full
Breastfeeding mothers have an easier time losing the weight they packed on during pregnancy, so they are already well on their way to eliminating this extra weight.
In fact, breastfeeding mothers tend to lose more weight than mothers who choose formula feed (even if they consume fewer calories).
Women who breastfeed burn an additional three- to five hundred calories. Because of this, breastfeeding mothers are recommended to consume extra calories to ensure their bodies have enough energy to produce milk.
The body uses some of those extra pounds to convert the fat into energy for breastfeeding.
So, the first step for dropping the pounds is to make sure that your baby is always left with a full tummy and you don’t place restrictions on feedings.
2. Eat lots of protein
Eating plenty of protein is one of the best places to start losing weight.
Protein requires more calories to process than, say, sugars found in carbohydrates.
Eating large amounts of protein makes the body feel full longer; this helps prevent unnecessary snacking and filling up on foods high in fat.
Consuming protein will help you maintain your muscle mass while you lose weight.
Nursing mothers require a higher intake of protein (65 grams per day) than mothers who have been nursing for six months (62 grams per day).
3. Eat plenty of fiber
Foods abundant in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, take up a lot of room in the stomach and make you feel full for longer periods of time.
Foods high in fiber are usually very nutrient-rich and contain necessary vitamins and minerals that you and your baby need.
Since fiber has no calories, you will have fewer problems dropping the weight.
While the composition of breast milk doesn’t vary much, it is necessary for mothers to maintain their health and their strength: caring for a new baby requires a lot of time and energy.
4. Drink plenty of water
Breast milk is fifty percent water, so women should consume lots of water to ensure they are not getting dehydrated. Drinking enough water will also help prevent some gastrointestinal issues that can accompany a new mother’s diet (like a diet high in fiber).
Nursing mothers should drink at least eight ounces of water after breastfeeding.
5. Eat less more often
Eating smaller meals five or six times per day will help increase metabolism which, in turn, promotes weight loss: those with higher metabolic rates burn more calories and fat with less effort than those with lower metabolic rates.
Additionally, eating more often during the day will help you avoid sending your body into starvation mode (which tells your body to store more fat).
Women who are breastfeeding are recommended to eat three small meals per day and complement them with healthy snacks in between.
6. Begin a moderate exercise routine
Incorporating exercise into your routine should be a gradual process. Nursing mothers should begin with light exercises and slowly make their exercise routine more moderate.
You should focus on cardio workouts like taking a brisk walk. You should aim to exercise three to five times per week and keep each workout session around thirty minutes.
Those with more muscle mass burn more calories. Moderate exercise promotes the burning of fat; weight training helps add muscle mass.
Breastfeeding mothers should make sure they don’t overwork themselves.
7. Eat between 1500 and 1800 calories per day
Nursing mothers should consume at least 1500 calories per day. The calories needed to function and produce milk will vary from mother to mother.
Many mothers may need to eat closer to 1800 calories a day, and some mothers require far more.
Consuming fewer than 1500 calories could put your health at risk and also put your milk supply at risk.
Most importantly, you shouldn’t be so concerned with losing weight that you neglect your body for the sake of being thin or feeling more attractive.
8. Avoid fad diets and certain foods
Breastfeeding mothers want a quick fix for their weight loss as much as the average person. However, nursing mothers are advised to avoid things like fad diets, low-carb diets, and weight loss medications.
When women severely restrict their caloric intake, fat-soluble environmental contaminants and toxins stored in body fat are released into the breast milk and can affect your baby’s well being.
Women should also avoid eating certain foods when breastfeeding, as they may affect the breast milk.
Spicy foods could upset your baby’s stomach. Caffeine could affect your baby’s sleeping patterns, and vegetables like broccoli and cabbage can give your baby gas.
Chocolate, trans-fats, and alcohol should either be avoided entirely or consumed in small amounts.
9. Slowly decrease caloric intake
Nursing mothers should decrease their caloric intake gradually since cutting out too many calories at a time could affect your health and decrease your milk supply. The essential resources for milk production are decreased when the body goes into starvation mode.
When the body goes into starvation mode, it regards fueling the milk supply as a nonessential function and cuts its production.
10. Monitor your progress to ensure you aren’t losing more than you should
Weight loss should be a gradual process, especially for breastfeeding mothers.
You should make sure you don’t lose much more than one and a half pounds per week. Women who lose one and a half pounds per week can do so without decreasing their milk supply.
At most, you can safely lose a little over two pounds per week.
Some argue that losing an extra half a pound per week is too much, but others suggest that losing two pounds per week is not a problem so long as the weight loss is short term (i.e. not lasting more than two weeks).
Many new mothers feel the need to lose weight quickly because they gained too much during the pregnancy. (The recommended weight gain is 25 to 30 pounds.) Since most mothers lose all but about ten pounds during their baby’s first two months, mothers shouldn’t intentionally lose weight during this period. You should also make sure you avoid processed foods, get plenty of sleep, and do your best to eliminate stress. Mostly, you shouldn’t rush it.
Hannah Tong is the founder of Omaby.com, a blog dedicated to providing accurate advice to mothers regarding childcare. She loves taking care of her kids and teaching them the right things. She is also enthusiastic and loves sharing her experiences to teach others about how to care for their families’ health