Losing Weight Safely While Breastfeeding: An Introduction
Navigating the journey of motherhood, particularly postpartum, can be overwhelming, especially when managing body changes and losing weight after pregnancy. Many new mothers wonder how to shed those extra pounds without compromising their ability to breastfeed effectively. Do you know that breastfeeding helps with weight loss?
Achieving a balance between supporting a healthy milk supply for the newborn and pursuing weight loss goals requires careful consideration and an informed approach. This guide will answer all your questions about how to lose weight safely while breastfeeding, offering evidence-based advice to ensure both mother and baby thrive.
Ensure Adequate Protein And Calories
It’s not uncommon to be ambitious in achieving your pre-pregnancy weight, whether you’re breastfeeding or not. But for breastfeeding women, dropping too many pounds can be harmful to both themselves and their babies. Losing weight too quickly can reduce your milk supply.
A healthy diet and regular exercise are the best way to lose weight after delivery while breastfeeding. To maintain a healthy weight and support your milk production, you must ensure you get enough protein and calories.
Daily recommended protein intake for lactating mothers are 70 grams per day (which can be divided into 2 to 3 servings).
One of the tips to lose weight you gained during pregnancy without compromising your milk supply is to incorporate a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet. Here’s a guideline on what to include in your daily diet:
- Protein: Protein supports tissue repair and muscle growth after childbirth. Include lean sources like:
- Poultry (chicken, turkey)
- Fish (especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, sardines, and trout, but be cautious about fish high in mercury)
- Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
- Dairy products (yogurt, cheese, milk)
- Tofu and tempeh
- Whole Grains: They provide energy and help keep you full. Consider:
- Oats (which can also potentially help boost milk supply)
- Brown rice
- Whole grain bread and pasta
- Healthy Fats: These support brain development in babies and help you feel satiated.
- Nuts and seeds (flaxseeds and chia seeds are great for milk supply)
- Olive oil and olives
- Fruits and Vegetables: These are rich in vital vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
- Aim for a rainbow of colors to ensure you get various nutrients.
- Dark leafy greens (like spinach and kale) are exceptionally nutrient-dense.
- Berries, apples, oranges, bananas, and other fruits for vitamin C and fiber.
Breastfeeding requires a lot of energy and burns calories, so naturally, you would lose some weight. However, if you are not getting enough fluids, this can lead to dehydration.
So how much fluid do you need? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that you drink at least 80 ounces of fluids per day. You will burn about 500 calories while breastfeeding. How many calories are needed daily depends on your body mass index (BMI).
This can include water, milk, sugarless juice, and other beverages. It is important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding, as you will be losing fluids through your breast milk.
Limit Caffeine and Sugar
One way is to avoid caffeine and sugary drinks. Caffeine does not reduce your milk supply directly, but it can cause dehydration if you drink more than 3 cups a day. This is due to frequent urination. Dehydration reduces your milk supply.
Also, if you drink coffee regularly, it can cause headache and difficulty sleeping. This can affect your mood and increase your stress hormone, cortisol. Stress reduces your milk supply even more.
Your baby may become irritable and hyperactive due to caffeine intake.
Additionally, it impairs iron absorption inside your bowel, which can lower the iron content inside your milk.
Iron is beneficial for maintaining normal hemoglobin for you and your baby.
Sugary drinks can add empty calories to your diet. Both of these can make it harder to lose weight. Reducing added sugars can help in weight loss and prevent energy crashes.
So what should you drink instead? Water is always a good choice, and unsweetened tea or coffee is also okay in moderation. If you’re looking for something with more flavor, try seltzer water with a splash of fruit juice.
Avoid Restrictive Diet While Breastfeeding
Here are 5 examples of strict diets that can impact your milk supply:
- The Atkins Diet
- The Paleo Diet
- The Keto Diet
- Intermittent Fasting
Each of these diets restricts certain food groups or nutrients that are essential to maintain your milk supply. For example, the Atkins diet restricts carbohydrates and increases high saturated fat.
Examples of saturated fat are – cheese, butter, coconut oil, and palm oil. Saturated fat also increases cholesterol level, and significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular event.
The Paleo diet restricts dairy and grains, both of which are important sources of nutrients for breastfeeding mothers. This can cause calcium deficiency in the mother and baby.
The Keto diet is particularly troublesome for breastfeeding mothers because it restricts all forms of carbohydrates, including fruits and vegetables. This can lead to deficiencies in key nutrients.
Whole30 is a month-long diet that eliminates all processed foods, dairy, grains, alcohol, and legumes. It focuses on whole food. This diet is highly restrictive and can be very difficult to follow while breastfeeding.
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that involves cycles of fasting and eating. This diet can be challenging to follow while breastfeeding because you would not know how much food to eat or when. For example; for Regime 16 to 8, you must skip breakfast and eat within 8 hours. Next, you will be fasting for another 16 hours. Let’s say your last meal is at 9 PM. You will have your first meal during lunch, at 1 noon.
Restriction While Breastfeeding
When breastfeeding, you must be careful about what you eat and drink. Several restrictions are placed on breastfeeding mothers to protect their babies.
One of the most common restrictions that breastfeeding mothers face is the restriction on caffeine. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, and chocolate. It is a stimulant that can cause your baby to be restless and irritable. It can also decrease your milk supply. For this reason, most breastfeeding mothers are advised to limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day.
Another common restriction is the avoidance of alcohol. Alcohol can pass into your breast milk and make your baby drowsy and sleepy. It can also decrease your milk supply. For this reason, it is recommended that breastfeeding mothers avoid alcohol altogether. If you do choose to drink, it is important to wait at least 2 hours after drinking before breastfeeding your baby.
There are also several foods that breastfeeding mothers should avoid because they can cause gas and tummy upset in babies. These include vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, corn, and sweet potatoes. Some mothers also find their babies sensitive to garlic, onions, spicy foods, and citrus fruits. The spicy food can cause child to be colicky and also have diarrhea.
Some herbs, like peppermint and sage, can suppress milk production.
Finally, there are some medications that breastfeeding mothers need to be cautious about. These include over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as herbal supplements. It is important to speak to your healthcare provider before taking any medication while breastfeeding.
Tips To Lose Weight
Avoid eating late at night
Why? Because when you eat close to bedtime, your body has difficulty digesting and burning off those calories. And that can lead to weight gain.
So if you’re trying to lose weight after delivery, eat your last meal of the day at least a few hours before you go to bed. You can eat dinner, latest, by 7 to 8 PM. And if you get hungry later on, reach for a healthy snack like fruits or vegetables instead of something high in calories. Eating high-fiber meals like plain oats can make you feel full longer.
Try to incorporate this postpartum diet plan while breastfeeding.
Get enough sleep
You need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night to be healthy and feel good. A lack of sleep can trigger the release of stress hormone so-called cortisol, leading to a decrease in milk supply and an increase in weight gain.
The reason why sleep is so important if you want to lose weight is because it helps to restore the body’s balance. In addition, lack of sleep can make it challenging to stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan.
One of the best ways to get enough sleep is to create a bedtime routine and stick to it. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. It may also help to avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed and to avoid using electronic devices in the hours leading up to sleep.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yoga. And if you are still struggling, talk to your doctor about possible sleep disorders that may be causing your insomnia.
Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things new mothers can do for their health and well-being. Not only does it help with weight loss, but it also helps to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels. So make sure to prioritize sleep in your post-delivery routine.
Fortunately, you can do plenty of things to help you lose weight after giving birth while breastfeeding. Probably the most important is to exercise regularly. But don’t overdo it – you don’t want to risk your health and that of your baby. You are recommended to do physical activity 5 times a week; minimum 30 minutes each session. Consistency is key if you aim to lose extra weight faster. You start the exercise routine with 5 to 10 minutes warm up to avoid future injury, like muscle strain.
Here are five examples of safe post-delivery exercises:
- Walking – This is a great exercise to help get your body moving again post-delivery. Go for walks around your neighborhood, or take a walk with your baby in their stroller. Make sure you choose proper shoes. You can use a pedometer to record your steps. Walking 10 000 steps a day will impact your weight. Before beginning, you must know your fitness level – your heart endurance. Calculating your maximum heart rate is one of the ways. You can calculate using this formula – 226 minus your age; for example, 226 minus 35 equals 191. Then, 65 percent multiplied by 191. The minimum heart rate is 124. The maximum heart rate is 85 percent multiplied by 191, which equals 162. If your heart rate increases by more than 162 while exercising, you are over the limit.
- Yoga – Yoga is a great way to stretch and tone your body, and it can be done in a safe way if you’re looking to lose weight after pregnancy. There are even classes designed specifically for new moms. Few yoga positions during the first few weeks post-delivery can help to realign your spine and tone pelvic muscles. If your wound is not yet healed, avoid certain yoga positions in the first 2 weeks of delivery—for example, an extension of your leg up or a standing twist on a chair.
- Swimming – Swimming is a great way to get some cardio in without putting too much stress on your body. It’s also fun for the whole family!
- Pilates – Pilates is another great way to tone your post-pregnancy body. Again, there are classes available specifically for new moms.
- Strength Training – Strength training is essential for helping to build muscle and bone density. Just be sure to start slowly and listen to your body.
To ensure that you are not overdoing it, start slowly and develop your routine gradually. This is to prevent any injury while exercising.
Supplements for Post Pregnancy Weight Loss
In addition to a healthy diet and exercise routine, supplements can play a supportive role in post pregnancy weight loss. It’s important to consult with a doctor before taking any new supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that are important for overall health and can also promote weight loss. They can be found in fatty fish like salmon, as well as in supplements.
|Recommended dosage:||Between 200-300 mg per day|
Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut health and aid in weight loss. They can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, as well as in supplements.
|Recommended dosage:||Between 5-10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) per day|
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for bone health and can also promote weight loss. It can be found in fatty fish like salmon and in fortified foods like milk and cereal, as well as in supplements.
|Recommended dosage:||Between 600-800 IU per day|
Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplements, including fat burners while breastfeeding.
Consult with your doctor if you want to safely lose weight while breastfeeding
Finally, don’t forget to consult your doctor before engaging in any fitness program. This is extremely important whether you are breastfeeding, have a chronic disease, or are on medications. Losing weight while breastfeeding is something that must be planned cautiously. You may want to lose weight without affecting your milk supply. You can start your weight loss journey after giving birth, but remember not to purposely lose weight during pregnancy, as it may affect your unborn baby.
FAQs: How Can Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
- Is it safe to try and lose weight while breastfeeding?
- Yes, you can safely lose weight while breastfeeding as long as it’s done gradually. Losing weight quickly while breastfeeding might reduce the milk supply for your baby.
- How can breastfeeding moms ensure postpartum weight loss?
- Breastfeeding moms can work towards postpartum weight loss by maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and incorporating moderate exercise into their routines.
- What kind of diet should I maintain while breastfeeding?
- Aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Avoiding a restrictive diet while breastfeeding is crucial to keep your milk supply sufficient.
- How many extra calories per day do breastfeeding women need?
- On average, breastfeeding may require an additional 300-500 calories per day to support milk production.
- Does breastfeeding burn calories?
- Yes, breastfeeding burns extra calories, which can help you lose the weight you gained during pregnancy.
- How much weight can I expect to lose from breastfeeding alone?
- Studies have found that breastfeeding can aid in post-pregnancy weight loss. Some women tend to lose more weight through breastfeeding, but the exact amount varies among individuals.
- I want to lose the baby weight. Any tips for breastfeeding moms?
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, eat a healthy and balanced diet, avoid rapid weight loss, and aim for gradual weight loss instead.
- Can losing weight too quickly affect my overall health and breastfeeding journey?
- Yes, losing weight quickly can reduce your milk supply, which might not meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Rapid weight loss can also compromise your overall health.
- How long should I give myself to lose the weight I gained during pregnancy?
- It took about nine months to put that weight on, so allow at least nine months to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Remember, everyone’s weight loss journey is unique.
- Are there any breastfeeding myths related to weight loss?
- One common myth is that every breastfeeding woman will automatically lose all their pregnancy weight. In reality, weight loss while breastfeeding varies from one person to another. In some cases, moms can’t lose weight while breastfeeding.
- How does weight retention work after pregnancy?
- Some women lose weight quickly after giving birth due to water weight and the weight of the baby, placenta, and amniotic fluid. However, the remaining weight might take more time and effort to lose.
- What’s the relation between breastfeeding and weight loss goals?
- Breastfeeding can help women lose pregnancy weight, but it’s essential to set realistic and healthy weight loss goals without compromising your health or milk supply.
- Is it essential to maintain my milk supply while trying to lose weight?
- Absolutely. Your baby’s nutrition is a priority. Any weight loss endeavors should ensure that your milk supply remains consistent and healthy for your child.
- Are there any resources where I can learn how to safely lose weight while breastfeeding?
- Yes, many healthcare professionals, nutritionists, and lactation consultants can provide guidance and answer all your questions about losing weight while ensuring a healthy milk supply for your baby.