Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
With the arrival of the New Year many of us make resolutions about improving our health by eating better. As a breastfeeding mom, you may be wondering if it’s possible to eat well and safely lose weight while still caring for your baby.
Weight loss immediately after birth is quite dramatic. Birthing a baby, placenta and fluids can result in the immediate loss of 12 pounds or more. In the weeks and months that follow, however, your “baby weight” will come off more slowly. The good news is, most breastfeeding mothers lose weight easily, without depriving themselves of anything! In fact, many mothers find they have to eat more than they ever did before and STILL they lose weight. Those baby pounds come off like magic!
Since breastfeeding is such a great calorie burner, you may be tempted to eat a less than ideal diet. But just as in pregnancy, keep in mind you are eating for two!
When you learned you were pregnant, you probably became more conscious of everything you put in your mouth. After all, you were eating for your baby too! Did you know you’re continuing to eat for your baby while you’re breastfeeding? Your baby is actually sampling the foods you eat every time he breastfeeds. He gets to taste garlic, broccoli and that spicy thai food you love.
Be aware of your diet for your sake and for the sake of your baby. You will have more energy and enjoy motherhood much more when you are eating a wide variety of nutritious foods. If you don’t have time to cook, that’s ok. Keeps snacks readily available. Nuts, fresh fruits and veggies, hard boiled eggs, cheese, and whole-grain breads are convenient to snack on and are super nutritious. An added bonus is you can eat them with one hand so you can eat while your baby eats. Try smoothies with added nut butter for a quick breakfast. A milkmakers cookie makes a great snack and will also support an ample milk supply.
What about dinners? How do you make dinner with a baby who needs to be held? With my first baby, I quickly learned that “dinner time” was usually “fussy time.” NOT a good time to try to cook. I shifted my expectations to make dinner in the morning—usually while wearing baby. It’s easy to start a pot of soup or put together a simple casserole in the morning when you feel most energetic and your baby is happy. Then, in the evening, all you need to do is heat things up and dad can make a salad and voila! Dinner!
This is a good place to stress that there are no “forbidden foods” when you are breastfeeding. While there are a few babies who react negatively to certain foods, the vast majority do not. So, unless you have known allergies or food sensitivities in your family history, please don’t worry about eating a special diet.
A word of caution: Even though weight loss is normal while breastfeeding, take care not to lose weight too quickly. It is generally recommended that breastfeeding mothers lose no more than 1 pound per week. Anything more than that may impact your milk production.
Have a Happy New Year and remember to take care of mommy!
This article was written by lactation consultant, Renee Beebe IBCLC, and originally appeared on her website The Second 9 Months. For more breastfeeding resources and support from Renee, visit her there anytime!