How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
In a culture that often celebrates women who “bounce back” after giving birth, it can be easy to feel that you have to lose weight as soon as possible after having a baby. If you have found yourself wondering how to lose weight while breastfeeding, you are not alone! Many women wonder if breastfeeding helps them lose weight.
It is important to remember that your body did a tremendous amount of work growing and birthing a baby! It may take time to lose weight and feel like yourself again, and that’s okay! If you want to make sure that you are losing weight in a healthy and sustainable way while breastfeeding, make sure to keep these things in mind.
It took your body nine months to grow and stretch and make another human! Expecting it to “get back to normal” within a matter of weeks will only set you up for frustration and disappointment. It is okay to want to feel healthy and strong and like yourself again, but don’t push for weight loss too fast.
Try to remember that your body is also in recovery mode for a long time after giving birth. With the addition of breastfeeding, your body will be working extra hard just to maintain its daily function! Now is not the time for deprivation, but for nourishment, care, and patience.
Consult your care provider
Before attempting any kind of focused weight loss regimen, make sure to consult with your care provider. With so many diet pills and exercise plans and meal replacement shakes that are marketed to postpartum moms, it can be difficult to know what is actually safe for breastfeeding and what might have unwanted side effects or damage your milk supply.
Don’t over-restrict calories
Does breastfeeding burn more calories than exercise? Most of the time, no. But it does burn calories, especially in the beginning when you are nursing more frequently and building up your milk supply!
Keeping this in mind is important if you are planning to track your calorie intake throughout the day. Make sure that you add additional calories to support your breastfeeding output, or your milk supply will begin to suffer. If you are focusing on weight loss, make sure the additional calories are from whole, nutrient-dense foods that will support a healthy milk supply as well as provide you with good nutrition.
Avoid diets or products that promise quick results
Anything that promises “quick results” is unlikely to be compatible with postpartum recovery and breastfeeding. Usually, these products or diet fads rely on quick detox flushes (not safe for breastfeeding), or over-restriction of calories. Instead, focus on the following tips!
Eat a variety of whole foods
You might know the phrase, “food is fuel,” but this is especially true for breastfeeding mothers. Not only are you fueling your own body, but that of your baby as well! Making sure that you eat a wide variety of whole foods as often as possible is a good first step toward your health goals no matter who you are. While it can be a little trickier to plan ahead for nutritious eating with a new baby, it will be worth it to focus on nutrient-dense whole foods whenever possible.
Cut down on sugar
One of the best ways to cut down on excess and unhelpful calories is to reduce the “empty” calories that sugar and sweets hold. If you are in the habit of drinking sugary beverages or eating a lot of sweets, this can be a difficult transition, especially in the middle of adjusting to new parenthood. Take it easy on yourself, and focus on replacing your favorites with lower-sugar, higher-nutrient options to start out.
Not only will staying well-hydrated help maintain a good milk supply, it can also help curb unnecessary snacking and keep your body functioning at optimum levels all around. If you don’t enjoy plain water, try adding a dash of sea salt, a squeeze of lime, and a dollop of honey to your water for a tasty and hydrating homemade electrolyte drink.
Keep active...but don’t overdo it
Listening to your body will be more important than ever when it comes to weight loss while breastfeeding. If you were able to maintain an active lifestyle throughout your pregnancy, it will be easier to jump back into activity after you have been cleared for it by your provider.
However, if you had pregnancy complications or are hoping to begin a new fitness regimen postpartum, you will need to take it slow in the beginning, and check in with your body often! Remember that slow, safe progress is better than injury or discouragement from overdoing it right away.
Do it for you
As with any weight loss or fitness journey, having the right motivation is important. Wanting to feel healthy and strong and capable in your own body are all excellent reasons to work on getting healthy and fit while breastfeeding.
If you are seeking to lose weight out of a sense of obligation to your partner, fear of rejection, or the need to “bounce back,” it may be worth talking about those things with your care provider or a professional therapist. Not only are these motivations detrimental to your happiness and mental health, they are not even usually motivations that work to encourage sustainable, healthy changes.
It is true that sometimes, breastfeeding helps lose baby weight simply because of the calorie expenditure. Just make sure that if your focus is weight loss, you are eating enough nutrient-dense calories to support your breastfeeding goals.
Move your body in a way that makes you feel strong and healthy, eat foods that fuel you, and focus on accepting and celebrating your body for the work that it did and the changes that work brought. Don’t forget...you just grew a whole other person!