You have survived the long nine months of pregnancy and the momentous occasion of your child’s birth. Now that your sweet baby is here and you are on the road to recovery – you may be looking for ways to start getting back to your pre-pregnancy body. One of the most common questions new moms have is how to safely and effectively lose weight while breastfeeding.
By making the decision to breastfeed, you are already helping your body get back to its pre-pregnancy shape. Breastfeeding can burn up to 800 calories a day depending on the frequency you are nursing and your own body’s composition – which can lead to about 1.3 to 1.6 pounds of weight loss while breastfeeding per week. That weight loss is just through breastfeeding alone.
During the first two months of postpartum, doctors recommend taking it slow, allowing your body to heal and for you to establish an adequate milk supply for your baby. During this time, you can make an impact on your body just by your eating habits. Choose to follow a healthy, balanced diet which includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables and plenty of water. Proteins and healthy-fats such as nuts, avocados and fish will help you feel full longer and provide additional nutrients for you and your baby. Because of the amount of calories your body is burning, it can be really easy to overeat, because you are constantly hungry. Eating small snacks throughout the day will also help you combat hunger and prevent you from overeating at meals.
I just had my first baby a month ago and now that I am finishing the recovery stage, I am ready to get more serious about my weight loss. I have set a target weight goal of 128 pounds. With my current weight at 143, that leaves me with roughly 15 pounds to lose. By continuing to breastfeed, usually between 8 to 12 feedings a day and eating a balanced diet, I could roughly lose the weight in 7 to 10 weeks just due to breastfeeding weight loss. But I don’t want to depend on breastfeeding alone. I want to start implementing exercise back into my daily routine. So I have started going on a 20 to 30 minute walk in the mornings and evenings. For someone my size, 5’6” and currently weighing 143 pounds, those walks will burn an extra 200 to 400 calories a day, depending on the incline and intensity. If I keep my calorie intake at the same level, I can lose those last stubborn baby weight pounds faster than if I just depend on breastfeeding alone.
You can start today by taking these first steps. Step #1 in getting back to your pre-pregnancy shape is to set a realistic goal and expectations. I know the weight I want to be at, and I also know it may take me a few months to get there. I made sure my goal was actually something I could achieve. It is also important to make sure your expectations are realistic. The first time I went back to the gym, I knew I would not be able to get on the treadmill and run, but I was surprised how different my body felt. I realized I needed to take things slower than I originally thought. This is very frustrating to some women and can deter them from achieving their weight goal. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if your first workout, isn’t what you hoped it would be.
Once you have set a goal and realistic expectations start Step #2 by keeping track of the frequency and length of your feedings to estimate the amount of calories you are burning. This will help you estimate the amount of weight you are losing per week – usually between 1 – 1.5 pounds. Now that you have that number you can also decide what you want to do for exercise and estimate the amount of calories each workout session will burn. Now you are ready for Step #3. Take the numbers from Step #2 and set your weight loss deadline. This will give you a specific date to work towards. Make sure you include your doctor when you are making these goals, as they will help you decide what your body is ready for and if there is anything you need to be cautious about as while breastfeeding and losing weight.