Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
Some Facts To Consider
Weight loss and breastfeeding. Plug those three words into Google and you will get back over 2 million search results. Sorting through all of these pages and trying to figure out what is factual information can be confusing for any new mom.
Breastfeeding and Nutrition
Here is what you need to know about nutrition and weight loss while breastfeeding:
- Your body does need extra calories if you are breastfeeding – an extra 500 cal/day above pre-pregnancy intake is needed to maintain breast milk production.
- Exclusive breastfeeding has been found to burn approximately 900 calories per day.
- Just breastfeeding alone will not help you lose the extra pounds if you are not consuming a well balanced diet. Check out www.choosemyplate.gov for guidance on food groups and portion sizes.
- A minimum of 1800 cal/day is recommended to avoid nutritional deficiencies; a range of 2200-2700 cal/day in the first few weeks postpartum is ideal for establishing milk supply.
- Diets with daily of intake less than 1500 cal/day are not recommended while breastfeeding.
- Vegans and Vegetarians may need to take a daily Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D supplement if not meeting daily requirements through food.
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- If you find you are skipping meals it may be easier to do 6-7 mini meals throughout the day. This will also help stave off massive carb cravings if you are sleep deprived. Here are some examples of snacks and mini meals that don’t require a lot of preparation:
- Sliced banana with a tbsp of peanut butter; sprinkle cinnamon on top.
- 1 string cheese plus and ounce of nuts.
- Plain greek yogurt with ½ cup berries, topped with sliced almonds.
- 3-4 ounces of grilled chicken breast (roughly the size of a deck of cards) with 1 cup steamed broccoli.
- Drink water when you are thirsty – breast milk production increases your body’s fluid requirement.
- Caffeine can be consumed in moderation – up to to 2 servings of caffeinated beverages per day is acceptable.
- Once your doctor has given you the green light to resume regular exercise, slowly ease back into your pre-pregnancy exercise routine.
- High intensity cardiovascular exercise will not decrease your milk supply.
- Wear a cotton sports bra with extra support – there are nursing sports bras on the market that are built with extra support.
- You can safely lose 1-2 lbs per month postpartum without compromising your breastmilk supply
- Your body holds on to 5-6 lbs of fat after birth as stores for producing breast milk. Don’t stress about losing the last 5 pounds of pregnancy weight until after you stop breastfeeding.
It Takes 9 Months ..
Finally, remember it takes 9 months to grow that beautiful baby, and it can take at least 9 months to return to your pre-pregnancy weight. If you are following the above guidelines and are gaining weight or having difficulty losing weight, consult your doctor.
Dr. Abha Sharma MD, IBCLC is a Board Certified Pediatrician and Lactation Consultant. She practices and resides in Southern California with her husband and toddler daughter. Her interests are healthy living and eating, reading fashion and lifestyle magazines, and of course, all things lactation.