After spending nine months gaining weight during pregnancy, most women are eager to start shedding the pounds once their precious baby arrives. When you are nursing your baby you may be curious how to lose weight while breastfeeding. Extreme diets are not recommended while breastfeeding, however there are some ways you can safely lose weight while breastfeeding and move towards your pre-pregnancy weight and shape.
First things first, don’t try to lose weight while breastfeeding immediately after giving birth. Your body stored fat during pregnancy to help you lactate. For the first two months, focus on establishing healthy and consistent breastfeeding. Your body needs time to regain strength and nutrients after carrying your baby and giving birth and it is now readjusting to your needs as a nursing mom. Give yourself this grace period. You’ll surely notice weight loss from the baby’s weight and placenta almost immediately, and over the course of the first few months you’ll release much of the water you retained during pregnancy and your blood supply will decrease as well.
Just like losing weight at any other point in your life, how to lose weight while breastfeeding requires examination of your diet and physical activity. Breastfeeding alone burns between 200 and 500 extra calories a day. Therefore, it’s important to consume enough calories to sustain your normal daily activities plus breastfeeding. That’s usually between 1,800 to 2,200 calories daily. When breastfeeding, never dip below 1,500 calories. That’s the absolute minimum you need to generate energy for caring for yourself and your baby.
If you are going to reduce your caloric intake, do it gradually so your body has time to adjust. Eliminate excessive fats and simple sugars and carbohydrates first. Be sure to get plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables, lean dairy products and whole grains. These are generally lower-calorie foods and are better for your body anyways. Also, try eating smaller meals and snacks consistently throughout the day rather than three large meals. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable is essential for weight loss and sustaining energy.
Add physical activity to your daily routine gradually as well. Again, don’t start significant workouts until about two months after your baby is born. Then build up your fitness level over time. Walking is great exercise you can do with your baby. Also focus on strengthening exercises as this will promote lean muscles mass that will continue to burn fat and calories by increasing your resting metabolic rate.
Keep in mind since you didn’t gain the pounds overnight, don’t expect to lose them that quickly either. In fact, losing weight too quickly during pregnancy could compromise your health. It is unlikely to impact the quality of your breast milk unless you take drastic measures. But when you don’t have strength and energy to care for your baby, no one wins. Making a goal of losing one to one-and-a-half pounds per week should be your max.
Most breastfeeding mothers see the greatest weight loss between three and six months after giving birth. Your metabolism is returning to normal after pregnancy and you are in a good breastfeeding rhythm. Studies show that mothers who exclusively breastfeed have an easier time losing weight than women who consume less calories and don’t breastfeed.
If you have concerns about how to lose weight while breastfeeding, consult your OBGYN or primary care physician. You should be able to lose weight while breastfeeding if you do it gradually and thoughtfully with you and your baby’s health in mind.