Breastfeeding provides the best nutrients for baby, and mom also can reap some benefits. Most moms are aware that breastfeeding can allow for faster weight loss after having a baby. The problem is – some moms bank on that information and expect to lose weight.
The truth is some moms struggle to lose weight after pregnancy, even when breastfeeding, and there are multiple reasons to explain why. But first – let’s discuss how it can help lose weight.
How Breastfeeding Can Help Moms Lose Weight
During pregnancy, the body naturally layers on extra fatty tissue to ensure you will have plenty fat stores to support breastfeeding. Once you give birth, eating a well-balanced diet can help lose your excess pregnancy weight. Naturally, you will burn calories while your body makes breast milk each time you nurse.
It’s important to note that women who exercise and diet vigorously, and even tend to skip meals, will not only quickly drop the weight – they can also release high levels of toxins into the breast milk. The best rule of thumb is to eat when you’re hungry and eat healthy, in addition to getting plenty of fluids.
What Causes an Inability to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?
Each person is different and there are several reasons why you may not be losing weight while breastfeeding. Here are a few common reasons.
Diet is Lacking
While breastfeeding does burn a significant amount of calories, you could be jeopardizing your metabolism f you don’t eat enough. According to the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board, women who breastfeed usually consume an additional 500 calories.
However, they also suggest not to count calories but to eat when you’re hungry – use your body as your guide for when to eat. When you are eating less food than your body demands, your metabolism will scale back to reserve some energy.
As a result, this will lead to your body using less energy and lead to putting a stall on weight loss.
Prolactin May be Off Balance
This is a huge possibility. Your hormones are very active during pregnancy and breastfeeding. A type of hormone called Prolactin is responsible for your milk production, as well as your appetite.
This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland in your brain. When your prolactin level is not where it should be, it can cause issues. If you suspect this may be the cause of your trouble with breastfeeding and not losing weight, your doctor can run some tests to be sure.
Although more studies need to be conducted, it is understood that hypothyroidism can cause an issue with milk production. Thyroid disorders can develop during or after pregnancy, usually known as postpartum thyroiditis.
Not only will the milk production be at stake with hypothyroidism, but it is also hard to lose weight with this condition – some people even gain weight, so this could be one of the top reasons you may not lose weight while breastfeeding.
If you suspect hypothyroidism, you must visit your doctor as it needs to be regulated with the appropriate medication.
What Can You Do?
If you are having trouble losing weight, even while breastfeeding, the first thing to do is get your hormones checked by your doctor. If everything comes back fine, you may want to try the following:
Make sure to eat a balanced diet.
Vitamins and minerals are critical for not only you but your baby as well. Make sure to eat a diet that’s balanced with fruits and vegetables. It’s ideal to eat healthy fats as breastmilk consists of a lot of fat. It’s important to feed your body healthy fats that are rich in nutrients to keep up a rich milk supply. Avoid sugary and processed foods.
Try eating every three hours.
As you eat on a regular basis, it helps your body to feel energized and fueled. The consistency will keep your metabolism healthy and burning. As soon as you go a long period without eating or skipping an entire meal, your body will automatically go into starvation mode, therefore losing that metabolism.
Drink plenty of water.
As your body is made up of 70% water, it’s critical for you to drink water for your body to properly function. When you breastfeed, you will need even more water than usual.
Take a break and rest.
You’ve probably heard people say that sleeping when the baby sleeps is important. Not only is it important for your sanity but also for your milk supply and weight loss.
For your metabolism to function properly, you need adequate rest. When you have a rested body and mind, you won’t be so apt to reach for a sugary fix.
What The Experts Say
“When you breastfeed, you use fat cells stored in your body during pregnancy — along with calories from your diet — to fuel your milk production and feed your baby.”
Dr. Roger Harms, Medical Director
“But everybody is different, and many breastfeeding women, even those exclusively nursing, have trouble with the last 5 or 10 pounds. Weight loss can be rapid at first, and then taper off as nursing continues.”
Mary Hickman, Lactation Consultant
“Losing the baby weight can take upwards of a year. Ideally, you should take the weight off gradually, aiming for 1-2 pounds per week.”
Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.
“Dieting increases stress and generates the fight-or-flight hormone cortisol which can increase belly fat. Listen to your body. Eat healthy food when you’re hungry and stop when you are full.”