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Can You Safely Lose Weight While Still Breastfeeding?

Published by Stylish Mamas.

Date: 16/09/2016.

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Last week we gave a few tips on how you can lose that extra baby weight because this was a topic that was chosen by our readers. I am happy to say that we got a lot of positive feedback but naturally another question was raised by some of our readers, "Can you really safely lose weight while still breastfeeding?". As usual, we got busy and came across this interesting article! Happy reading! :)

For most breastfeeding women, this is the million-dollar question when it comes to shedding off that baby weight. How do you go about losing weight while still breastfeeding without jeopardising it? I am sure that you are well aware that when you are breastfeeding, a balanced diet is essential and you need to consume certain amounts a day to produce a healthy amount of breast milk. The problem is when you are breastfeeding, you are constantly hungry and just want to snack at every opportunity. This usually includes the healthy and unhealthy snacks and it usually makes you feel like you have moved from eating for two (pre-birth) to eating for two post birth! Luckily breastfeeding is supposed to help you lose those extra pounds but unfortunately it is not always the case for some. It can be hard to do so when you constantly feel like eating and you feel justified in doing so because you want to produce enough milk for your baby. Most women usually feel torn between hitting the gym and waiting it out as exercising too much can have counterproductive effects on your breastfeeding. So the question is how can you lose weight safely while still breastfeeding? I came across this beautiful article and thought it may be of interest to you regarding the above question. Let's hear your thoughts once you are done reading! :)


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By Alice Callahan.


For new mothers who are breast-feeding, what are the best strategies for weight loss that will not jeopardize the milk supply?


“Make sure breast-feeding is established before starting any weight loss plan,” said Cheryl Lovelady, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, who studies postpartum weight loss. She encourages women to take time to recover from childbirth and check with their doctors first.

Studies show that exercise alone is not effective for postpartum weight loss for most women; it’s too easy to make up for calories burned by eating more. A better bet is to reduce calorie intake – along with exercise, which helps you lose more weight as fat and less as muscle. Exercise also improves cardiovascular fitness and metabolic health, and can be good for mental health.

“It’s very hard for me to recommend dieting alone,” Dr. Lovelady said. “You don’t feel good with dieting, but you feel good after a brisk walk.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking or easy cycling) per week for postpartum women.


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It’s safe to lose one or two pounds a week, studies led by Dr. Lovelady and others have found. But more rapid weight loss could cause a drop in milk supply and increased fatigue, the last thing a new mom needs. To be sure that the baby is getting enough milk, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises watching for changes in your baby’s weight gain, diaper output and feeding behavior.

For breast-feeding women trying to lose one pound per week, Dr. Lovelady suggests decreasing calorie intake by about 500 calories per day, with a total intake of at least 1,800 calories. The Department of Agriculture’s SuperTracker website is a good starting place for creating an individualized diet plan that takes into account calories needed for breast-feeding, and women can adjust their plan depending on their results.

Dr. Lovelady warns breast-feeding moms to avoid very low carbohydrate diets. You need dietary carbohydrates to make lactose, the sugar in milk. Otherwise, any dietary pattern can work, so focus on foods that you enjoy and that make you feel satisfied, not deprived. Plan snacks that are easy to grab and eat with one hand (the other being occupied by the baby), like an appetizing bowl of fruit and nuts on the kitchen counter.

Everyone, but particularly breast-feeding women, should use caution with weight loss supplements, said Philip Anderson, a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Diego. They’re poorly regulated, and they may be contaminated with harmful ingredients. Some herbal ingredients can also interfere with milk production or affect the baby’s health. “I would be very cautious with those,” he said.

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