By Melissa Portunato MPH, IBCLC, RLC
Your body just underwent major changes and now it’s the primary food source for your baby. It’s important to give your body time to heal and recover from childbirth. For many moms weight loss while breastfeeding doesn’t come easy, leaving them anxious to try anything to get the pounds to melt away. Adding on the pressure of losing weight, while still trying to adjust to being a new mom can fill you with feelings of frustration and disappointment. Set healthy expectations and keep in mind the weight wasn’t put on overnight and it can take some time to shed the extra pounds. With patience, consistency, and support you CAN reach your health goals while continuing to breastfeed.
When Can I Start Trying To Lose Weight?
The first 6- 8 weeks postpartum are crucial in creating a healthy milk supply and changes in diet are not recommended. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start incorporating healthy habits right away. Drinking enough water is an excellent way to kick start weight loss. Drinking at least 8 cups of water a day can help naturally flush away toxins and shed unwanted pounds. More water won’t necessarily make you more liquid gold but you will feel healthier and your milk will flow easier. Cheers mamas!
Is Dieting Safe?
Any diet that dramatically cuts calories can impact milk supply, especially within the first 6-8 weeks as your body regulates how much milk is needed to keep your baby growing and thriving. Keep in mind, breastfeeding mothers will burn about 300-500 calories a day and their diet should account for that. Low carb diets like the Paleo diet are compatible for breastfeeding moms as long as they are consuming enough nutrients from a variety of lean protein, fruits and veggies. Research studies claim, aiming for at least 1800-2000 calories per day, breastfeeding moms can safely lose about 1 pound a week.
What About Exercise?
There is no evidence that tells us exercise lowers milk supply, alters the taste of breastmilk or impacts infant weight gain. For the most part, after 6-8 weeks is usually the perfect time to start gradually incorporating exercise like a brisk walk with baby, stretching, or yoga. Exercise can be a great way to improve your mood, boost your energy levels and metabolism. The advantages of exercising are endless. Start slow and you can even bring your baby along!
Breastfeeding mamas need to eat! Be patient and kind to your new Mom Bod. Remember you’re making food for a tiny human! Focus on consistency and not perfection while living a balanced healthy lifestyle. Always check with your doctor before starting any weight loss or exercise plan. If you have more questions on dieting and breastfeeding, chat virtually with one of our International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. Our consultants are here for you and ready to listen when you need it most. You’re beautiful just the way you are and you’re doing the very best you can.
Dewey et al. (1994). Effects of dieting and physical activity on pregnancy and lactation. Am J Clin Nutr, 59( Suppl 2), 446s-453s.
Lauwers, J. & Swisher, A. (2015). Counseling the Nursing Mother: A Lactation Consultants Guide. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Neville et al. (2014). The relationship between breastfeeding and postpartum weight change—a systematic review and critical evaluation. International Journal of Obesity, 38, 577-590.