How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Losing weight after delivering a baby is a goal for many new moms. If you’re breastfeeding your infant, however, caution must be taken when starting to shed excess pounds. You need to eat plenty of the right kinds of food to produce nutritious milk, so a certain number of calories is essential during your breastfeeding phase.
The good news is that you can safely lose weight while breastfeeding — and the actual act of nursing can help. If you’re a breastfeeding mom, always talk to your doctor before trying to lose weight.
Beginning Your Weight Loss
While you’re pregnant, your body stores some of the weight you gain to supply you with the energy you need to breastfeed once your baby is born. The best time to lose weight is while you’re breastfeeding, according to Dr. Judith Roepke, a member of the La Leche League International Health Advisory Council.
You should, however, wait two months to consciously start losing weight because this gives your body a chance to establish a healthy and steady milk supply.
Calorie Needs While Breastfeeding
To keep up your milk supply, you need to eat between 1,500 and 1,800 calories per day, according to Kelly Bonyata, an internationally board certified lactation consultant. Consuming fewer calories than this can cause your milk supply to decrease. If you consume more calories than this, you might find that cutting your daily caloric intake will help you jump start the weight loss process.
Start by eliminating empty calories from junk foods, such as soda, candy, desserts and fast food, because you don’t need these anyway. Don’t cut your calories drastically all at once, however, because this can have a negative impact on your milk supply, the MedlinePlus website notes.
Exercising to Burn Calories
You burn calories when you’re breastfeeding your baby, and this calorie burn is helpful in losing weight. In fact, you’ll burn between 200 and 500 calories a day just by nursing. Adding moderate exercise once you’ve been nursing for two months will help increase your calorie burn.
Anne Smith, an internationally board certified lactation consultant, recommends taking walks with your baby. Any type of moderate exercise is acceptable, including lifting weights. If you have an pre-existing health conditions, however, always check with your physician first.
Safe Weight Loss
Aim to lose no more than 1.5 pounds per week or 6 pounds per month after the second-month postpartum, Bonyata said. Crash or fad diets aren’t recommended because you’ll shed weight fairly quickly, but it’s usually all water weight and will immediately come back once you stop the fad or crash diet.
Drastic dieting can also decrease your milk supply. Before starting any weight loss plan or program, speak with your doctor to be sure it’s a smart and safe plan for you.