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Some new moms lose their baby weight effortlessly. The extra weight seems to melt off. Other women have to work harder to lose those pregnancy pounds.
As a breastfeeding mom, you have a secret weight-loss tool.
The effect of breastfeeding on weight loss is one of the most popular benefits for mom promoted.
Taking a safe approach to weight loss while breastfeeding is essential. As a nursing mom, you will want to make sure that you lose weight without jeopardizing your milk supply.
Apply these tips for weight loss while breastfeeding to help you achieve your postpartum weight loss goals safely
DOES BREASTFEEDING REALLY HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
No doubt you’ve heard at least one woman proclaim breastfeeding as a weight-loss tool to be a myth.
While everybody is unique, this is a topic that has been looked at from a scientific perspective.
Research does support that breastfeeding can help with postpartum weight loss. Several studies have shown that breastfeeding exclusively results in more pounds lost when compared to mothers who didn’t breastfeed or did not breastfeed exclusively (Source).
The good news is that you are burning calories constantly just by making milk. This makes breastfeeding a dream dieting technique.
CALORIES AND BREASTFEEDING
There are two common questions when it comes to calories and breastfeeding.
How Many Calories Do Your Burn By Breastfeeding?
Most sources state that breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories per day.
The amount of calories burned is going to fluctuate throughout your breastfeeding journey. The more milk you make, the more calories that you will burn to produce that milk.
Those times when your baby is experiencing a growth spurt are going to burn more calories than an average day of nursing.
How Many Calories Does A Breastfeeding Mom Need To Consume?
Women who are nursing are advised to increase their caloric intake by 500 calories above their requirements before they got pregnant.
If your goal is faster weight loss you will probably have to make some adjustments to that number.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), a woman whose weight is in the normal range should consume about 2500 calories a day (Source).
That number is based on averages. For a more accurate idea use a Calorie Calculator.
Most moms can reduce their caloric intake to 1800 calories a day without it impacting their milk supply.
Some women may be able to take that number down to 1500 calories a day. Keep an eye on your milk supply if you are decreasing your calories by that much.
But weight loss can be more complicated than calories consumed and calories burned.
HOW FAST CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT WHILE BREASTFEEDING?
Just as it took time to gain the weight, it will take time to lose it.
If you gained the recommended 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, you would have 5-10 pounds of fat to lose postpartum.
If you rely solely on breastfeeding, the average woman will lose 1-2 pounds a month.
If you employ other weight-loss tactics like dieting and exercising, a realistic expectation for weight loss during nursing is one to two pounds per week.
AVOID RAPID WEIGHT LOSS WHILE NURSING
One important tip for weight loss while breastfeeding is to avoid losing weight too quickly.
A common question new moms have is, what is the fastest way to lose weight while breastfeeding? Quick weight loss is not the best plan for the nursing mom.
There are two things to be concerned about regarding rapid weight loss while breastfeeding.
- Losing weight too quickly can result in reduced milk production.
- Toxins are stored in our body fat. These toxins will be released when fat is burned. Losing a lot of weight very quickly can result in higher levels of these toxins being released.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT WHEN BREASTFEEDING
There are basically two ways to lose weight. Either take in fewer calories or burn more calories.
An effective tip for weight loss while breastfeeding is to combine weight loss techniques.
Research supports that combining an effective breastfeeding diet plan and exercise will help you meet your weight loss goals more quickly (Source).
CHOOSING A BREASTFEEDING DIET PLAN
Moms want to know, what should I eat to lose weight while breastfeeding?
Diets are not one size fits all. Some individuals have found that certain types of foods can aid in their weight loss or, alternatively, make it more difficult.
Determining if this is true for you will require some trial and error.
If you try low carb and don’t see success, then adjust your breastfeeding diet plan.
Whatever type of diet you use, make sure that it is a healthy diet plan for breastfeeding moms.
Breastfeeding moms need to ensure they are getting key nutrients.
- Protein – Nursing moms should eat 2-3 servings of protein each day.
- Calcium – Breastfeeding moms should consume 1300 mg of calcium every day.
- Iron – Make sure you have about 9-10 mg of iron daily.
- Vitamin C – Get at least 120 mg a day.
- Water – Staying well-hydrated is vital for milk production. Drinking enough water may also aid in weight loss (Source).
For delicious recipes created with the breastfeeding mom in mind you’ll want to get a copy of Mother Food: A Breastfeeding Diet Guide with Lactogenic Foods and Herbs – Build Milk Supply, Boost Immunity, Lift Depression, Detox, Lose Weight, Optimize a Baby’s IQ, and Reduce Colic and Allergies.
EXERCISE AND BREASTFEEDING
Exercise can help you burn more calories.
Working out and breastfeeding are compatible. A research study published in 2012 showed that even when mothers exercised, their babies still gained weight at a normal rate (Source).
Best Workouts For Breastfeeding Moms
Nursing mothers will want to choose an exercise program that they enjoy, and that is comfortable.
- Wear a supportive but not restrictive bra. The Kindred Bravely Sublime Nursing Sport Bra was designed with the active breastfeeding mama in mind. It is available in ten different sizes and four colors.
- Walking with your baby in a front carrier or backpack is an excellent way to level up your exercise and burn extra calories.
- Having a walking partner can motivate you to be diligent about getting your steps in.
- Wearing a Fitness Tracker like the Fitbit Versa 2 is another way to keep yourself accountable.
Yoga is another excellent form of exercise in the postpartum period. YogaDownload is an affordable program that specifically has a Postnatal category and programs for weight loss,
All you need is a yoga mat. I love my Jade Yoga Mat.It was recommended to me by my favorite yoga teacher.
Yoga is an excellent stress reliever. What new mom couldn’t do with feeling less stressed?
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Some cancers
WEIGHT LOSS AND MILK SUPPLY
Another critical tip for weight loss during breastfeeding is to wait until your milk supply is well established before trying to accelerate your postpartum weight loss.
Ensuring that you have established your milk supply is a crucial factor in how to lose weight while breastfeeding without losing your milk supply.
It generally takes 6-8 weeks of regular breast stimulation before milk supply is established.
Trying to lose weight before your supply is established can result in insufficient milk production.
BONUS TIPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS WHILE BREASTFEEDING
- Monitor your baby’s weight gain every few weeks.
- Breastfeeding moms often feel hungry. Keep your kitchen stocked with ready to go healthy snacks.
- If you are feeling low energy, make adjustments to what you are eating. You may not need more calories. You may just need more energizing foods.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TIPS FOR WEIGHT LOSS WHILE BREASTFEEDING
Whatever your weight loss goals are during your postpartum period be patient and have realistic goals.
You’ve got this, mama!
Andrea Tran RN, MA, IBCLC
Andrea has been working with new families as an RN for over 35 years and a Lactation Consultant for over 25 years.
She has her MA in Health and Wellness with a focus in Lactation.