Let’s face it, even though you’re proud of your body for bringing your new baby into the world, I’m sure that holding onto those extra pregnancy pounds is not really what you had it mind for your new life.
While it is absolutely possible to lose weight postpartum, you have to do it carefully if you don’t want to lose your breast milk supply in the process.
Postpartum weight loss while breastfeeding doesn’t have to be a huge lifestyle change, you have enough of that going on right now with a new baby to deal with.
There are some simple and easy adjustments that you can make to your everyday life that will help you shed the baby weight while still maintaining your milk supply.
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Does Breastfeeding Really Burn Calories?
All of that milk you’re making for your baby requires a lot of energy from your body. Each ounce of milk takes roughly 20 calories to produce.
That means that if you’re making 30 ounces of milk a day, then you’re already burning 600 calories just to feed your baby. That’s nuts!
Even though breastfeeding burns calories, it also comes with the aggravating side effect of making you a ravenous fiend ready to turn feral at any given moment.
I was absolutely STARVING for the first few months of breastfeeding. Things eventually settled down, but I still ate more than I did pre-pregnancy. That would probably explain the reason that I had so much trouble actually losing that baby weight.
Some people will even tell you that breastfeeding causes you to gain weight, that isn’t true, but the amount of extra food you may be taking in can.
How Much Should You Eat When Breastfeeding?
The general recommendation for a breastfeeding mother, is to consume an extra 500 calories per day while you’re still lactating.
That might seem like a lot, but it’s really just a couple of extra snacks in between your main meals.
The key thing to remember is not to just stop eating the extra food because of the calories. Your body still needs that and you, your milk supply, and your baby will all suffer if you start starving yourself just to fit into an old pair of jeans.
You should never drop below 1500-1800 calories a day while you’re breastfeeding.
Why You’re Not Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
Your body is trying to hold onto extra fat to help support your milk supply. That’s why you gain so much extra weight during pregnancy, it’s for milk production.
Your body is acting on an ancient instinct that says that it needs to have extra stores of energy to be able to make that milk because you never know when you’ll get your next meal.
Our bodies haven’t figured out the kind of world that we live in where food is readily available at every moment of the day.
The trick then for actually losing that weight is getting your body to start feeding off of those fat stores.
So, How can a Breastfeeding Mother Lose Weight?
While it may seem impossible to actually get the extra baby weight off, it really isn’t. You just need to be smart about how you go about it.
Eat the Right Calories
Remember when I said that each ounce of breast milk requires 20 calories to produce?
That sounds awesome, right?! There is a catch though. Not all calories are created equal.
You need enough calories to keep up with your milk supply, but eating an extra 600 calories of cheesecake a day isn’t going to help your waistline.
You also want to be careful with just cutting calories. If you start cutting calories to lose weight, the first thing you’ll lose is your milk supply. Isn’t being a mom fun?
The best way to lose weight while breastfeeding isn’t to cut calories, but to eat the right kinds of calories instead.
Eating well-balanced, low-carb, high-fat meals will make sure that you are getting enough calories to keep up your milk supply while at the same time getting rid of some of that extra baby weight.
Think healthy carbs and fats.
- Sweet Potatoes
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
If you really want to go deeper into it, I would suggest checking out Whole 30. I really suck at self-control (but I’m working on it) so I haven’t completed a full round, but I was still able to lose 10 pounds in 15 days following this plan.
I also felt AMAZING! It does require a bit of effort and meal planning is a must, but the results speak for themselves.
I also didn’t lose any ounces of breast milk when I was following the Whole 30, so that’s a HUGE plus.
If you’re considering it, I would strongly suggest reading the book It Starts with Food before beginning. There is so much excellent information in there.
It really helped me to look at food differently so that I was better able to make the right choices to fuel my body rather than to just feed it.
If you have read any of my breastfeeding posts, you know that I am an advocate for drinking enough water.
Your body needs water to survive. You need even more water to breastfeed. And you need even more than that if you are planning on doing any kind of exercising.
I shoot for a gallon a day when I’m breastfeeding just to be on the safe side.
Grab a water bottle and keep it with you always. I personally LOVE my Hydroflask. I carry it with me everywhere. You should too. You’re more likely to actually drink the water if it’s with you.
Drink your water!
I’m not saying that you have to go out and join a gym, or start an intense exercise routine. You’re busy figuring out how to take care of your newborn, I get it. It’s also exhausting with all of the sleep deprivation and night-time feedings messing with things.
You would be surprised though at how good you will feel just getting up and taking a walk around the block.
Load your baby up in the stroller, grab some music, and your water bottle, and get going. It doesn’t have to be a fast walk. Just something to get you out of the house and get your muscles moving.
Not only will your body thank you for the movement, but your mind will thank you for the change of scenery.
Cabin fever during maternity leave can really suck. Help yourself out by just getting out and going. Your baby will enjoy the change too.
Don’t do any physical activity without checking with your doctor first if you’re still in your first six weeks postpartum. If you had a rough delivery then you may have some extra healing that needs to be done. Walking is typically accepted and suggested, but it’s always a good idea to double check first.
Get Enough Sleep
I know, I know, you have a newborn and trying to get your newborn to sleep is a massive undertaking. I get it. You need your sleep too though.
Your body went through a lot of effort to bring your baby into this world. It needs to heal. One of the best ways to help your body heal is to get enough sleep.
Have your partner, a family member, or a good friend help you take care of the baby so that you can get some sleep. Night time will probably be the worst for a while since your baby is trying to figure out his nights and days, but having an extra hand will make a huge difference in your quality of life.
Postpartum Weight Loss Takes Time
Remember, it took you nine months to put on all of that extra weight. It will take time to get it off again.
You may not have the same body after pregnancy, but that’s okay. Your body brought your baby into this world.
You may need to get different jeans and you may have to wear a better supporting bra, but isn’t your baby worth it?
Don’t put any other added pressure on yourself to lose the baby weight. Lose the weight for you because you want to be healthy and happy, not because you feel like you have to.
Being healthy and loving who you are is more important to your baby than being skinny. Besides, skinny isn’t always healthy, but loving yourself is.
Are you struggling with postpartum weight loss? Leave me a comment below or join the conversation in our Facebook group.
Until next time!