Myth or Fact: Weight Loss While Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is very beneficial both for you and your baby. Breast milk provides your little one the necessary proteins, vitamins and fats to have a stronger immune system. Therefore, it lays down the foundation for a healthy development and growth.
While breastfeeding, your body needs more calories and your diet is very important to supply your baby the necessary amount of milk. You should be consuming vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and protein and fiber rich food on a regular basis. Additionally, you need to keep your body hydrated since breastfeeding causes your body to lose more fluids. This type of a diet is not only good for your milk supply, it will also help you to stay healthier. However, this might not always be easy for you to maintain due to your increased appetite and hunger while nursing your little one.
Besides the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, there is evidence that suggests its positive effects on postpartum weight loss. We can hear you asking "how"? Find out below!
Is it normal to constantly feel hungry after giving birth?
Yes, it is totally normal for you to feel hungry even sometimes more than during your pregnancy. While nursing, you tend to have an increased appetite because of your higher energy expendeture. In addition to that, as a new mom, you are struggling with sleep deprivation which also increases your hunger and appetite.
In order to have a good milk supply, it is recommended to take 300-300 additional kcal a day compared to pre-pregnancy. So don’t feel guilty if you are craving more food, your body requires more now for breastfeeding, and the additional hunger is its way of signaling you.
Do I burn calories while breastfeeding?
Another “yes” to this one as well! You burn around 500-700 additional calories a day while breastfeeding thanks to the increased energy cost of lactation. Also, concerning that, nursing moms tend to lose more weight (1-2 pounds per month over time) than moms who do not breastfeed.
Can I lose all my baby weight with exclusive breastfeeding?
Unfortunately not. There are so many other factors that affect your postpartum weight loss journey. Your pre-pregnancy weight, weight gain during pregnancy, eating habits, hormonal changes, physical activity, stress level, number of previous pregnancies, sleep deprivation, and overall health play a major role in the process. Research shows that up to 86% of the weight gained during pregnancy is lost by many women within the first six months after delivering their baby. However, it might take a lot longer to lose all your baby weight and get close to your pre-pregnancy body.
Why can’t I lose more weight?
As a new mom, you are trying to adapt to your new routine, regularly breastfeed your little one, and take care of the house at the same time. And not to mention, struggling with sleep deprivation. It is not surprising that your body needs more energy and you feel hungrier. Actually what happens is that your body produces higher amounts of cortisol. High cortisol levels are correlated with weight gain and increased cortisol levels are associated with sleep deprivation and the responsibility of taking care of a newborn 24/7. Therefore, you are consuming either equal or even more amount of calories than you lose in a day. Please keep in mind that it is not equally easy for all moms to lose their pregnancy weight.
How can I get back my pre-pregnancy body?
As explained earlier, the energy cost of lactation among exclusively breastfeeding women eases the process of losing weight within the first six months after giving birth. Staying hydrated, and having a healthy diet rich in nutrients, with no added sugars and saturated fats will not only be beneficial for your milk supply, but it will also assist you through your weight loss journey. Exercising on a regular basis is also helpful for your body and mind to stay more active, burn more calories, and have some “me” time.
Moreover, as your baby’s solid food journey starts at around 6 months of age, they will begin to take some extra nutrients from other food supplies other than breast milk. At that time, you may consult your doctor if you’re considering decreasing your calorie intake to lose more weight.
Whether breastfeeding or not, please give yourselves grace: it took nine months to reach your maximum weight during pregnancy so it is only normal for it to take a long time to lose all it back.
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