Safe Ways to Lose Baby Weight While Breastfeeding

Adriana Velez

If you are one of those women who breastfeeds and has the weight melt off like butter, you can just stop reading now and go eat another leftover holiday cookie. However, if you're like Elita from Blacktating, Salma Hayek, me, or many other women, you are trying to figure out how to safely lose weight without compromising your breastfeeding relationship. You know, lose the extra pounds kept there by the lovely, tasty, creamy, chocolate-covered ... sorry, got distracted. *drool*

The point is, despite burning extra calories while breastfeeding, it doesn't make everyone magically lose weight. And for those who want to lose some, the post-holiday pounds can be especially daunting.

But fortunately, you CAN lose weight safely while breastfeeding.

Don't start trying to lose weight if your baby is under 2 months old, though. Your body is still recovering from childbirth and you're still establishing a milk supply and solidifying that nursing relationship. As your hormones start to settle, you're likely to drop some weight anyway, though this isn't true for all people. The first few months are a hormonal whirlwind in addition to figuring out the breastfeeding thing, so worry about your newborn at this point, and save your weight loss for a little way down the line. 

If you cut calories, do it slowly. A sudden drop in calories can hurt breast milk production, and it can make you gain more weight, or at least make it harder to drop, since your body goes into starvation-mode. Also, most breastfeeding moms still need 1,800 calories a day, so restricting calories is really going to be the least effective way to lose weight while nursing.

Don't do fad diets. Don't take pills, limit your foods significantly, or take hormones of any kind. Anything you take is likely to go to your baby (who doesn't need to diet) and cutting out foods is just bad for your health. Remember too that even if your diet is seriously lacking, your baby does get all the nutrients you need -- because they sap them from your body, so your lack of any vitamins just hurts you that much more, since your baby then gets the limited amount. Low-carb diets are known to hurt milk supply.

Don't lose too quickly or do cleanses. When you do, toxins and chemicals in your body that are stored in body fat and are fat-soluble can end up in your breast milk, and therefore in your baby.

Eat healthy. Consider aiming for around 60-70 percent of raw foods in your diet, meaning nothing processed, and some people don't even cook them. The truer to its natural form, the better it is for you. Even if the cost is a little high, buying pre-made fruit and veggie trays can be worth it if it means that's what you turn to when you're hungry. Be wary of the dips they come with. Making your own tray is cheaper and just as effective.

Try breastfeeding-safe food plans. Weight Watchers can tailor the plan specifically for breastfeeding moms, and it's a good and safe one. Body for Life is considered breastfeeding-friendly too.

Exercise. Go for walks with your baby, or jogs without. Try some Pilates at-home DVDs or maybe even agree with your husband that you'll attend a spin class once a week or something. And by the way, that thing about exercise making milk go bad? Not true.

REALLY consider what you want to accomplish. Especially for first-time moms, often the issue is just getting used to the changes in your body -- your new mom body. If you don't fit in your pre pregnancy jeans, sometimes the reason isn't because you need to lose weight, but because you've graduated from the Maiden portion of your life to the Mother section, and your hips that brought your infant into being have spread ... and you'll never wear those jeans again without developing an eating disorder. It's okay if it takes you awhile to accept that.

Think about what you're doing for your baby. La Leche League even acknowledges that some women gain weight while lactating. But if you figure you are providing the healthiest building blocks for your baby's entire life, helping prevent them from the pain and struggle of allergies, disease, even cancer, and helping yourself fight your own cancers so you can be around to help raise your babies, then a year or two of not being able to do Atkins or wear the cutest new clothes is really not that big of deal once you put it in perspective, is it? 

Did you struggle with your weight while nursing?


Image via su-lin/Flickr

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