After your baby is born it’s normal to want to chuck those maternity clothes. Plus the six-week restriction given to moms for regular activity seems to take forever. But for breastfeeding moms, is jumping into a weight-loss diet and exercise regimen a good idea? Will it have a negative effect on your milk supply and quality? The short answer… maybe.
Women in impoverished countries rely on breastfeeding their infants for survival so we know many women can and do breastfeed under famished circumstances. The baby may not suffer. However, when you severely reduce your caloric intake, baby gets fed first which means sometimes mom suffers and she doesn't get the nutrition and the calories that she needs. She may feel tired and worn out because her nutritional stores are depleted. La Leche League International (LLLI) warns that a “A malnourished mother may have inadequate levels of vitamins A, D, B6 and B12 in her milk, and may risk decreased milk supply.”
LLLI recommends that breastfeeding mothers get at least 1500 to 1800 calories per day. It is recommended that you only cut 100 cal per day if you're looking to lose weight while breastfeeding.
This contradicts most diet plans. Keep in mind that one pound equals 3500 calories. In order to lose 1 pound per week you need to have a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. Most diet plans aim for you to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Try to remember, the weight did not gain quickly so I will not come off quickly. The rule of thumb here is nine months up and nine months down. The good news is that producing milk burns an extra 400-600 extra calories a day on its own. Losing weight after a baby is born is much easier when breastfeeding.
This is not the time for fad diets that require protein shakes or illuminating entire food group like carbs, this is the time for balanced healthy eating. The best thing to do is to eat to hunger and drink to thirst.
LLLI warns that “Toxins, such as environmental contaminants PCBs and pesticides, are stored in body fat.” If you drop weight too rapidly these toxins may be released into the bloodstream and as a result find their way into your milk supply. Be patient. Take it slow. Let your baby help you return to your natural weight gradually and safely.
Exercise is great for everyone, including breastfeeding moms. As long as you aren't on any restrictions and have gotten the go-ahead from your doctor then enjoy a good sweat. Take your baby into the fresh air for a run or get down on the mat for some mom and baby yoga. The only tip for exercising moms is to nurse your baby well prior to your workout so their hunger doesn't throw off your groove! Also plan to take a shower prior to nursing them again or at least wash your breasts before feeding. Your skin will be very salty post workout. Your baby may not like the taste and refuse to nurse.
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of three. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WriterBonnie for more great info on Raising Kids.