Losing Weight By Breastfeeding
We often hear that the best option for postpartum weight loss is breastfeeding… And while breastfeeding does offer the potential to lose weight more quickly after delivery, the idea that the weight gain during pregnancy will melt away is in fact, false. Keep reading to learn more about losing weight by breastfeeding and what your expectations should actually be!
Don’t Compare Your Current Journey
Whether it’s your first baby or you’re a seasoned mama, breastfeeding is a unique journey with each individual child, and that includes the way our bodies respond.
The La Leche League explains that, on average, exclusively breastfeeding women tend to see a loss of 1-2 pounds per month. However, there are still other mothers who may report weight gain!
If you are someone who is struggling with losing weight by breastfeeding, there may be a reason why! Because breastfeeding burns more calories, the recommended intake is at least 1800 calories per day, with some mothers requiring even more. This caloric intake is a significant increase for most, which can also be a result of weight gain or cause a delay in weight loss.
While it may be frustrating to not see an immediate shift in weight postpartum, restricting calories, specifically in the first few months, can decrease your much-needed energy levels and more importantly, your milk supply. Your goal during this time should not be losing weight by breastfeeding… simply focus on your baby’s needs and everything else will come with time!
Focus on You and Your Baby
The core focus when breastfeeding should not be on regaining that pre-baby figure, but rather on how we can fuel the body to build and maintain milk supply.
Here are some tips on how you can build your milk supply while also working towards your desired weight goals, in the first year.
If you don’t love the taste of water or have a difficult time drinking enough water, consider a water bottle with an infuser for fruits or a motivational water bottle to help encourage you to consume more.
Evaluate your food intake
Burning more calories while breastfeeding may mean increasing your caloric intake, but that doesn’t equal eating whatever, whenever. If losing weight by breastfeeding is a goal of yours, choose protein-rich foods with high nutritional value in addition to complex carbs and various fruits and vegetables.
Keep grab-and-go options on hand
As you’ll soon realize with a baby, quick and easy is sometimes all you’ll have time for. Keeping simple, healthy options within reach is crucial. Stock your pantry or refrigerator with oatmeal, prepped protein balls or protein bars, trail mix, dried fruit, hard-boiled eggs, or some cheese and crackers… You will thank yourself later!
While losing weight by breastfeeding might not be the focus of your exercise, Moving your body will increase your energy levels and allow you to feel better! Your time is valuable and limited, especially during those first few months after delivery, so keep in mind that exercise during this time is primarily to get you up and moving; It’s not meant to be an intense, hour-long session. After clearing it with your physician, a good idea could be re-introducing some low-impact movement such as yoga, pilates, aerobics or stroller walks. With time, you’ll be able to expand your exercise routines to what it was pre-baby or during pregnancy.
Remember, you’ve been the cozy home for your unborn baby and all the changes and shifts to your body were well worth it now that you’re holding your little one, safe, on the outside - embrace this bonding time with your baby - don’t hyperfocus on the weight loss, or lack thereof, and give yourself some grace.
Your Next Steps in Your Breastfeeding Journey
You did it! You are approaching the 1-year mark of your breastfeeding journey and you are trying to figure out what’s next.First off, just because you’ve reached a year, doesn’t automatically mean it’s time to wean. If you are battling with the thought of this breastfeeding journey coming to an end, be sure to check out 5 Benefits to Extended Breastfeeding for some additional insight before making the final decision. It’s important that you do what you feel is best for you and your baby, and not what society implies.