After welcoming their new bundles of joy into the world, many new nursing moms are anxious to know when they can start to shed some of that baby weight. But don’t rush into crash diets: for your baby’s sake and your own sake, it’s important to lose weight that safely. Let’s cover the basics of losing weight safely while breastfeeding.
Losing weight while breastfeeding: Does it happen by itself?
When you’re breastfeeding, you’ll need to eat more than you did to maintain your pre-pregnancy weight. Experts recommend that breastfeeding moms need about 2300 to 2500 Kcal per day. However, those extra calories don’t mean you’re going to gain weight.
In fact, many moms find that breastfeeding helps them start to shed extra pounds. That’s because your body is using up calories to make nutritious milk for your baby.
Remember, part of the reason you naturally put on weight during your pregnancy in the first place is to give you the energy reserves you need to feed your new baby. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you can expect to use up about 500 to 700 extra Kcal every day. That’s about the same you’d burn from an hour of swimming!
Some study has shown that when nursing moms eat according to their appetites, they tend to lose around 1.3 to 1.6 pounds per month naturally in the initial 4 to 6 months – and that’s without changes to their eating habits. Although you may keep losing weight even after the first 4 to 6 months of breastfeeding, the pace of losing weight tends to get slower after that period.
How fast will I lose weight while breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can help you return to a healthy weight, but it’s important to be realistic. You’re not going to snap back to your pre-baby weight overnight, and that’s OK.
It’s not safe to try and lose weight in the 2 months immediately after giving birth. Slow, steady weight loss over 6 to 12 months is the best way to get back to a healthy weight and shape. Losing up to 1.5 pounds per week won’t give bad influence on your breastmilk and health, so try not to lose more than that.
What if I’m not losing weight while breastfeeding?
Even if you stop losing weight while you’re nursing, or if you put on weight, don’t panic. If you lose weight too quickly, you could reduce your milk supply and leave your baby hungry, so now is no time for crash diets.
If your pregnancy weight isn’t coming off as quickly as you hope, speak to your doctor. The solution could be as simple as reducing your energy intake by 100 Kcal per day, or increasing your activity level slightly. Either way, it’s important to wait until your baby is about two months old and you have the all-clear from your doctor before you try to intentionally lose weight.
Do I need a special diet to lose weight while breastfeeding?
To keep yourself feeling energetic and healthy, as well as producing the best quality of breastmilk for your baby, it’s best to eat a healthy balanced diet based on whole foods.
Caring for a new baby takes a lot of energy out of you, after all, so make sure you’re caring for your own nutritional needs. If you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, you may be surprised how quickly the weight comes off without leaving you feeling starving!
Although you may need more calories than you usually would, you don’t have to eat a special diet while you’re breastfeeding. Nursing moms need a similar balance of protein foods, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products to other women. Although you do need a higher amount of some vitamins and minerals while breastfeeding, following a healthy and varied diet will meet most of those needs.
But remember – enjoying junk food like chips or sweet desserts won’t hurt you or your baby, so don’t feel like you should switch to formula even if you can’t stick to a perfect diet.
To lose weight while breastfeeding, listen to your body
Don’t feel pressured by the super-fit celebrity moms: slow and steady weight loss while breastfeeding is the best start for you and your baby. The extra weight you gain during pregnancy is there, at least in part, to support nursing.
When you breastfeed, you not only bond with your baby and give them the best nutrition possible, but you’re helping your body back into a healthy weight range. As long as you choose a balance of healthy foods, eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full is all you need.