can't lose weight while breastfeeding

Cant’ Lose Weight While Breastfeeding: Understanding the Postpartum Body

The postpartum body undergoes significant changes, including hormonal shifts and a slower metabolism. Learn how these factors can impact weight retention while breastfeeding. Read more to gain insight into your body’s natural processes.

The Role of Hormones in Weight Retention

Hormonal changes significantly impact weight retention after childbirth. Your body undergoes a surge in estrogen and progesterone levels during pregnancy, facilitating fat storage to support breastfeeding demands.

It’s essential to remember that it takes about three to six months for these hormone levels to normalize postpartum, depending on whether you are breastfeeding or not. The secretion of prolactin, known as the “fat-storing hormone,” is another key factor contributing to weight gain for some women.

This hormone stimulates milk production but can also lead your body to store more fat than it usually does. Meanwhile, oxytocin produced while nursing serves a dual function – helping your uterus contract post-delivery for quicker recovery and possibly simultaneously affecting your metabolism and weight loss efforts.

These hormonal shifts emphasize why understanding postpartum hormonal variation is crucial in effectively managing weight after childbirth.

Changes in Metabolism after Childbirth

Your body undergoes significant metabolic changes after childbirth. One of the key adaptations is the restoration of maternal insulin sensitivity, which plays a crucial role in weight loss postpartum.

Despite breastfeeding burning around 500-700 extra calories daily for milk production, this doesn’t always translate to shedding pounds. This can be attributed to the body’s natural tendency to retain fat during this period as a form of energy storage for lactation.

Furthermore, participation in physical activities often dwindles post-childbirth since adjusting to motherhood can leave little time or energy for regular exercise. 

It’s vital to understand these nuances about your postpartum metabolism if you’re struggling with losing weight while breastfeeding and consider integrating gentle and safe exercises into your routine where possible.

Lack of Physical Activity

The post-pregnancy period often sees mothers living a sedentary lifestyle. The demands and responsibilities of being a new parent, including the lack of time or fatigue, can create barriers to physical activity.

Regular exercise seems like an uphill task amidst shifting hormones, emotional transitions, and caring for your newborn. Yet it is crucial in battling postpartum weight retention.

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy and minimal physical activity post-birth increases the risk for maternal obesity and related complications. Adopting even moderate levels of physical activity can have positive implications for your weight and overall health.

Despite these benefits, many new nursing mothers find themselves trapped in this vicious cycle contributing to difficulties in shedding excess weight while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding and Its Caloric Demands

Breastfeeding burns calories and has a high caloric demand due to the energy required for milk production.

How Many Calories Does Breastfeeding Burn?

Breastfeeding is more than just a bonding experience between mother and child; it’s also a high-calorie activity that helps shed postpartum weight. Each ounce of breast milk contains about 20 calories, translating to a significant calorie expenditure to meet breastfeeding demands.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that nursing can burn approximately 450-500 additional calories daily. Hence, while producing this nutrient-dense sustenance for your little one, you’re also naturally working towards weight loss.

However, keep in mind that breastfeeding mothers need an extra intake of around 330 to 400 kilocalories per day for nutritional requirements.

Common Misconceptions about Breastfeeding and Weight Loss

Breastfeeding does not guarantee automatic weight loss after pregnancy; individual differences and genetic factors play a significant role.

Myth vs. Reality: Does Breastfeeding Guarantee Weight Loss?

Many women believe that breastfeeding is a surefire way to shed those extra pregnancy pounds, but the reality is that it’s not always the case. While numerous studies suggest that breastfeeding can help with weight loss after childbirth, it doesn’t guarantee results for every new mother.

Hormones, stress, sleep patterns, exercise levels, and diet all affect weight retention or loss while breastfeeding. It’s important to understand that each woman’s body is unique and may respond differently to the demands of breastfeeding.

So, while some may experience significant weight loss during this time, others may find it more challenging to shed the pounds.

The Influence of Genetics and Individual Differences

Genetics and individual differences play a significant role in how breastfeeding affects weight loss. While some women may experience rapid postpartum weight loss while breastfeeding, others may find it more challenging to shed the extra pounds.

The influence of genetics on this process is not fully understood, but studies suggest that genetic factors can contribute to variations in metabolism and fat storage. Additionally, individual differences such as body composition and hormonal balance can impact the rate at which weight is lost while breastfeeding.

Mothers need to understand that their journey toward losing baby weight will be unique, and comparing themselves to others may not be helpful or accurate. By focusing on self-care, eating a balanced diet, staying active within safe limits, and seeking support when needed, each woman can navigate her own path toward achieving a healthy postpartum body.

The Emotional and Mental Aspects of Weight

The pressure to “bounce back” postpartum can contribute to emotional and mental challenges when trying to lose weight while breastfeeding.

The Pressure to “Bounce Back” Postpartum

Postpartum women often face immense pressure to quickly “bounce back” and regain their pre-baby bodies. This expectation, fueled by societal standards and media influence, can have detrimental effects on a new mother’s emotional and mental well-being.

The constant focus on weight loss can lead to feelings of shame or inadequacy if progress is not made as quickly as desired. The pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations can also contribute to postpartum depression and anxiety.

It is crucial for society to shift its focus towards supporting new mothers in their recovery journey rather than placing unrealistic body image expectations upon them.

The Importance of Self-compassion and Patience

It’s important to remember that your body has been through a lot during pregnancy and childbirth, and it needs time to heal and adjust.

Research shows that self-compassion is linked to improved health, well-being, and lower levels of anxiety. By showing yourself compassion, you can alleviate any stress or pressure you may feel about losing weight quickly while still providing nourishment for your baby.

Additionally, patience is key when it comes to postpartum weight loss. Your body went through nine months of changes during pregnancy; it’s unrealistic to expect those extra pounds to magically disappear overnight.

Embracing the process and celebrating small achievements along the way can help you stay motivated on your journey toward reaching a healthy weight. Remember that everyone’s body is different, and individual factors such as genetics play a role in how quickly or slowly we lose weight.

Exercise and Physical Activity While Breastfeeding

Engaging in safe exercise routines can support weight loss while breastfeeding and improve overall physical and mental well-being.

Safe Exercise Routines for New Mothers

  • Start with low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or gentle yoga.
  • Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as you feel comfortable.
  • Incorporate strength training exercises using body weight or light weights to build muscle and increase metabolism.
  • Include pelvic floor exercises to improve core strength and prevent common postpartum issues like urinary incontinence.
  • Use proper form and technique to avoid injury during workouts.
  • Listen to your body and modify exercises as needed, especially if you have any lingering postpartum pain or discomfort.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after exercise sessions.
  • Wear supportive bras and shoes to ensure comfort and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard – remember that slow progress is still progress, and taking care of your body is the priority.

The Impact of Physical Activity on Milk Production

Research suggests that moderate exercise does not have any negative impact on milk supply or composition.

Exercising while breastfeeding can increase a compound in breast milk that may reduce a baby’s lifelong risk of serious health issues. So, rest assured that staying active and engaging in regular physical activity won’t affect breast milk.

When to Seek Medical Advice

If you are experiencing difficulty losing weight while breastfeeding despite following a healthy postpartum diet plan while breastfeeding and exercise routine, it may be worthwhile to consult with your healthcare provider. You need to rule out any potential thyroid or hormonal issues affecting your weight.

Identifying Potential Thyroid or Hormonal Issues

Thyroid issues can have a significant impact on weight loss while breastfeeding. Pregnancy and childbirth can cause changes in thyroid levels, leading to conditions such as postpartum thyroiditis, hyperthyroidism, or hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism may include fatigue, constipation, memory loss, sensitivity to cold, muscle cramps, and weakness. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider if experiencing unexplained changes in weight while breastfeeding, as they can help identify potential thyroid or hormonal issues that may be affecting your ability to lose weight.

Other Underlying Medical Conditions Affecting Weight

Underlying medical conditions can play a role in weight gain and make it difficult to lose weight while breastfeeding. These conditions may include:

  1. Hormone imbalances: Hormonal changes postpartum can affect the body’s ability to lose weight. Imbalances in insulin, cortisol, and estrogen hormones can contribute to weight retention.
  2. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that can cause weight gain and difficulty losing weight. It is characterized by cysts on the ovaries and insulin resistance.
  3. Medications: Certain medications, such as antidepressants or corticosteroids, may cause weight gain or make it harder to lose weight.
  4. Chronic health conditions: Conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease can impact weight management during breastfeeding.
  5. Mental health disorders: Mental health issues like depression or anxiety can affect appetite and lead to emotional eating or unhealthy food choices.
  6. Sleep disorders: Sleep deprivation due to caring for a newborn can disrupt hormone regulation and contribute to weight retention.
  7. Insufficient nutrient intake: Not consuming enough nutrients while breastfeeding can not only impact milk supply but also hinder weight loss efforts.

You may want to try fat burners while breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor if it safe to take while nursing your baby.

The Long-Term Perspective

Embrace the journey of motherhood and your body’s changes, celebrating every small achievement along the way.

Embracing the Journey of Motherhood and Body Changes

As a new mother, it’s important to embrace the journey of motherhood and the changes that come with it, both mentally and physically. Pregnancy and breastfeeding bring about significant transformations in our bodies, and having realistic expectations is crucial.

It’s normal to experience weight gain during pregnancy and challenges when trying to lose weight while breastfeeding. The cultural pressure to quickly “bounce back” can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that these changes are a natural part of the postpartum period.

Embracing self-compassion and patience will allow you to focus on the joys of motherhood rather than stressing about your body image. Celebrate small achievements along the way and remember that every woman’s journey is unique.

Celebrating Small Achievements along the Way

As a new mother, it’s important to remember that losing weight while breastfeeding is not always easy or immediate. It’s crucial to celebrate small achievements along the way.

While some women may experience significant weight loss while breastfeeding, others may find it more challenging to shed those extra pounds. Remember that every body is unique, and genetics play a role in how our bodies respond to breastfeeding and weight loss efforts.

Be patient with yourself, practice self-compassion, and focus on making healthy choices for both you and your baby. Gain additional knowledge on how can lose weight while breastfeeding.


1. Why am I not losing weight while breastfeeding?

There are several reasons why you may not be losing weight while breastfeeding, including hormonal changes, increased appetite and calorie intake to support milk production, lack of sleep or stress, and individual differences in metabolism.

2. Is it safe to try to lose weight while breastfeeding?

Yes, it is safe to try to lose weight while breastfeeding as long as you do so gradually and ensure that you are still consuming enough calories and nutrients to support both your own health and your baby.

3. What can I do if I want to lose weight while breastfeeding?

To safely promote weight loss while breastfeeding, focus on making healthy food choices, staying hydrated, engaging in regular physical activity (with doctor’s approval), managing stress levels, getting enough restful sleep, and seeking support from a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who specializes in postpartum nutrition.

4. How long does it take to lose pregnancy weight while breastfeeding?

The time it takes to lose pregnancy weight while breastfeeding varies for each individual. It is important to remember that gradual progress is key for sustainable results. It may take several months or longer depending on various factors such as pre-pregnancy weight, overall health status, lifestyle habits, genetic factors, and commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

By Dr Nurul

Hi. Welcome to my blog 4 Healthy Solutions. I'm Dr Nurul , a General Practitioner. I graduated from Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy, Russia. I have a genuine passion for holistic health and well-being. My mission is to inspire, educate, and support individuals just like you to reach your full potential. My goal is to focus on the interplay between physical, emotional, and mental health to create a balance that fosters overall wellbeing. My approach will be targeted towards lifestyle modification , alternative medicine and nutrition.

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