Over the last couple of months, I’ve had millions of other new mothers ask me, how do I lose weight when breastfeeding? Real talk women, does it actually feel like we’ve paid dues to Mother Nature? We’ve all pumped countless gallons of breast milk, given birth, nursed at least one child and cleaned ourselves (and possibly boned ourselves) with numerous pairs of washcloths. Yet somehow we still haven’t seen the results we want. Why?
Let me tell you, as a woman who struggled for years to lose weight while pregnant, I understand exactly how this feels. I’ve experienced it first hand. Yes, I did gain weight right along with my son… but I also gained back that extra weight over throughout our pregnancy. And trust me, it wasn’t just my belly. My legs, arms, and back also felt the weight loss and only gained it back once my baby was born.
Many women have successfully shed the pounds (and body fat) after giving birth and breastfeeding. The reasons vary from person to person; some lost weight fairly quickly, some not at all and some found themselves pretty hard at work (like me) and burned off more calories than they ever expected. Some women simply stopped caring about exercise and nutrition and became couch potatoes. Others became slim again once they gave birth. In my own case, I simply didn’t care enough about it anymore and it was obvious.
Regardless, of why you think you lost weight, if you’re breastfeeding, you’ve almost certainly experienced some level of adjustment. The key is to remember that it’s okay and even great! You’ve just changed your body configuration a bit, and your baby weight loss is also part of your body adjustment. When I say the adjustment, I don’t mean running out to the gym every day or hitting the treadmill for hours. Adjustment means walking a little farther, using up more calories at each activity and yes, even stopping smoking and drinking.
Many women find they need some sort of nutritional counseling to help them with postpartum weight retention. This is not unusual; many women (not all of them pregnant) go through a period where they feel tired, sluggish, and overweight. This can be caused by many factors: insufficient sleep, not enough exercise, poor nutrition, too much coffee, or tea, etc. It’s important to address the issue of poor postpartum weight retention in order to achieve and maintain a normal and healthy weight.
As you probably already know, breastfeeding provides many of your babies vitamins, minerals, antibodies needed for optimum health. The skin and other areas where milk grows are also rich in these nutrients. Therefore, when your baby nurses, she receives all of the nutrients that she needs, as well as the added benefits of being immersed in wonderful, safe, and stimulating milk.
New mothers often face a variety of new challenges on top of everything else going on during their pregnancy. Many women find themselves feeling stressed, depressed, overworked, overwhelmed, and anxious. These feelings can contribute to gaining too much body fat and can make it difficult to successfully deal with the new baby and the changes that come along with motherhood. This is why so many women resort to breastfeeding as a way to deal with postpartum weight issues.
It seems simple to understand why breastfeeding may help a woman lose weight after giving birth. Breastfeeding allows a woman to breastfeed her child while receiving all of the necessary nutrients that babies need to grow and develop normally. In addition, breastfed babies are generally less subject to food allergies and illnesses than those that have been fed formula. Finally, many experts recommend that women who breastfeed for six months or more before becoming pregnant should wait until they are past the first full month of pregnancy before attempting any kind of weight-loss diet or program. Breastfeeding can be an effective method for postpartum weight loss, but it is important that women remember to allow their bodies time to adjust to breastfeeding and avoid drastic lifestyle changes immediately following childbirth.