How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Nutrition experts weigh-in on how breastfeeding can help new moms shed the weight gained during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding is touted to be the best feeding practice for babies. Besides, breast milk contains immunity-boosting antibodies and healthy enzymes difficult to replicate in baby formulas.
Breastfeeding naturally helps mom and baby bond, while likewise gifting perks to both baby and mom. Breastfed babies reap many benefits, including:
• Receive optimal nutrition
• Healthy birth weight
• Strong immune system
• Enriched motor skill development
• Decreased risk of infection and disease
Mom can benefit, too, as research shows breastfeeding can lower the risks of certain health conditions. These include, but are not limited to, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. Breastfeeding also helps heal the body after delivery and shed pregnancy weight.
Christy Zagarella, lead bistroMD dietitian, weighs in on how breastfeeding can help new moms lose pregnancy weight gain.
What to Eat to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding for baby weight loss is common amongst new mothers hoping to trim down. This is because the body burns calories when breastfeeding.
"Moms can burn up to about 500 calories per day when exclusively breastfeeding," says Christy. "Once the baby starts eating solid foods and you aren't breastfeeding as much, you will still burn calories but it can drop to about 200 calories per day."
On the flip side of the coin, new moms should consider eating patterns and overall calories consumed as well. "Eating less than 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day can drop your milk supply. When exclusively breastfeeding, you need to eat enough calories or breast milk production can drop. You have to take care of mom in order to take care of baby."
Breastfeeding mothers are encouraged to eat a balanced, healthy diet. Aim to get extra calories a day from nutrient-dense foods, including:
• Whole grains
• Fruits and vegetables
• Beans and other legumes
• Chicken, fish, and other lean proteins
• Milk and dairy products
• Nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils
Should breastfeeding moms avoid any foods?
Again, breastfeeding moms should focus on including more wholesome foods whilst limiting overly processed ones. This does not mean to completely forego an indulgent ice cream scoop, just do so in moderation.
Moms should likewise consider foods beyond how they impact weight. "Every baby is different in what they can and cannot tolerate," explains Christy.
"Some babies have trouble with dairy and you may need to cut dairy out of your diet. Some babies may not be able to tolerate gassy foods like broccoli, onions, garlic, cauliflower."
There are additional considerations when it comes to alcohol and caffeine intake. One should discuss with their doctor regarding these recommendations.
Is it Easy to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding for weight loss can certainly be helpful and a natural effort. However, the thought of losing weight when being a new mom can be overwhelming.
Christy offers advice on how to lose weight while ensuring adequate nutrition in a convenient manner. "It can be difficult to find the time and energy to eat when caring for a newborn and feeling like you are nursing round the clock."
"Try keeping easy, grab-and-go healthy snacks on hand like yogurts, string cheese, and nut mixes. Using the bistroMD EATS (Essential and Tasty Snacks) option can also be extra convenient for busy moms."
"Keep a little snack basket next to the seat you often nurse in, too. This way, you can easily grab a snack when you are nursing the baby."
Other tips to lose weight after pregnancy include practicing meal prep and ensuring adequate nutrition. Making time for sleep and physical activity can be helpful, too.
1. Practice meal prep.
Having prepared meals on hand is undoubtedly handy, and practicing meal prep helps make that possible as a busy mom.
A weight loss meal delivery service can take care of the meal prep, too, as ready-prepared meals are delivered straight to you.
2. Increase water intake.
Drinking more water not only lessens the risk of postpartum constipation but can assist in weight loss goals.
Like snacks, keep water near common nursing stations for convenient water intake.
3. Take power naps.
Sleep deprivation can take a hit to mood and energy levels while increasing cravings to foods rich in sugar, fat, and overall calories.
A quick 20-minute power nap when baby is likewise asleep can help deter these risks.
4. Try to increase physical activity.
Hitting the gym may seem out of the question, though exercise can be quick and in the comfort of your own home.
Mommy meet-ups can also help moms get active with baby. They also help build new connections and relationships!
5. Seek professional help as needed.
If concerned about reaching a healthy weight postpartum or breastfeeding, consult with the professionals. This may include the help of a doctor, lactation consultant, and dietitian.
For instance, a lactation consultant can help with baby latching and other complications. A dietitian is helpful for creating a breastfeeding diet with the health of both mom and baby in mind.