So you just had a baby, and are eager to lose those extra pounds you put on during pregnancy. But how you diet matters. If you’re breastfeeding, drastic dieting and calorie cutting should not be things you’re doing right now. In fact, your body needs more calories than it usually does in order to produce milk for your baby. And if you want to be successful at breastfeeding, it’s important you don’t skimp on food. If you do, you risk your milk supply decreasing or the quality of your milk going down, thus sabotaging your ability to breastfeed successfully.
Losing weight quickly and quantity of milk
Producing milk burns calories. The generally recognized amount is about 300-500 calories per day. You also have your own caloric needs in order to maintain health, depending on your height and weight. So it stands to reason that too little eating could result in a diminished milk supply. If you begin supplementing with formula to make up for the diminished supply, your baby will nurse less often as a result. And since breastfeeding is a matter of supply and demand, your body will, in turn, produce even less milk. It’s a vicious cycle that can be avoided by learning the correct amount of calories your body needs for safe weight loss.
Losing weight quickly and quality of milk
Rapid weight loss due to eating too little can also affect the quality of your milk. Toxins called persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are stored in the fat tissue in our bodies. Studies have shown that losing weight causes these POPs to be released from the fat that was lost into the bloodstream. And the quicker the weight loss, the more toxins are released. This has been shown to apply to breastmilk as well; one study found that higher amounts of weight loss by breastfeeding mothers correlated with more POPs found in their breastmilk.
So is it safe to diet while nursing?
The question remains: is there a safe way for a breastfeeding mother to lose weight, while not compromising the amount and quality of milk her baby gets? The answer is yes! You can safely work towards losing weight, however, you must do so in a gradual manner. Once you find out the number of calories your body needs in a day while breastfeeding, you should work on a gradual reduction of calories until you meet that minimum number that your body needs.
So give yourself a break after having a baby. If you’d like to work on losing weight, it is important to do so in a controlled manner. Using a good diet plan is key, as well as exercising once your health care professional clears you for physical activity.
For more information, check out the Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Nutrition Guide ebook. In this ebook, written with the help of a registered dietician, you will find out how to tailor your calorie intake number for your unique needs. You’ll also find sample meal plans and recipes, all designed to help you get back on track without sacrificing your ability to breastfeed your baby.