Breastfeeding and Weight Loss
Breastfeeding can burn between 200 and 1000 calories daily, depending on your baby’s (or babies) appetite and age.
Breastfeeding Calorie Calculator found here.
For those of you who are not familiar with how many calories you burn in the gym, those calories would take quite some effort to burn off. For example, it would take 1 hour and 45 minutes of dancing or 1 and a half hours of aerobics to burn off 1000 calories!
What’s more, is that your body needs an extra 200-500 calories daily to keep you healthy while breastfeeding! (Depending on your BMI)
Research shows that moms who breastfeed, lose the weight picked up during pregnancy much faster than moms who formula feed their babies.
One of the reasons why mothers pick up weight during pregnancy is for fat stores needed during breastfeeding. So what happens if you don’t breastfeed? The fat stores stay right where they are.
So what if the Fat is just not coming off?
"I know what it feels like to give birth and realize two years later that you still haven't lost the postpartum weight! The only thing that helped me was exercise and calorie counting.
This way you can keep tabs on what you are eating and see your progress. I use a free online program called Sparkpeople. Slow, steady breastfeeding and weight loss will ensure that you do not pick it up again, plus some. Doing things slowly and sensibly will ensure that you can be a happy mother, wife and a person that has energy and feels great. Remember that the journey there is more important than the destination. Read how I did it below." by Tracy Behr (South Africa, Cape Town)
When some mothers have managed to get most of the weight off, they struggle with those last few postpartum pounds. You should continue with your weight loss efforts and know that you are still losing inches.
When your baby goes through a growth spurt, it can signal your body to keep some extra fat stores for your baby’s nourishment. Stay away from stress eating, and as soon as you and your baby start to wean, the last few pounds should drop off quickly.
What Types of Food should you Eat for Weight Loss while Breastfeeding?
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat foods. Drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
Some good foods to eat while breastfeeding: oatmeal (will increase milk supply), lean protein, salad greens, mango, banana, and pineapples. You can eat anything you want as long as it is in moderation.
Eating Healthy while Breastfeeding
For weight loss while breastfeeding:
- Consume quality calories with few fats and sugars.
- Change your exercise routine continuously.
- Manage stress well: Research shows that people who stress will experience a harder time at getting rid of tummy fat!
- Get eight hours of sleep every 24 hours.
- Do some body strength training: When your body consists of a higher muscle percentage, the fat is burned off easier.
- Do not supplement your baby with anything, let your baby breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six months.
- Exercise three times per week, for an hour each time. Weight loss without exercise is also possible, as long as the mother doesn’t exceed her calorie balance.
No Weight Loss while Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding weight gain
Many women might feel that breastfeeding is making them retain or pick up extra weight, the truth is, most mothers are quite stressed out after having a baby and might resort to food as a stress reliever.
Breastfeeding cannot make you pick up weight. It may keep you from losing your last few pounds, but that’s about it.
Some mothers only start losing the weight after six months of breastfeeding, but the weight does eventually come off. Keep breastfeeding, after the six-month mark; the weight should come off easily.
- Breastfeeding mothers who consume only when hungry can lose an extra 0.5kg per month more than mothers who are not breastfeeding.
- Losing weight too quickly (more than 2,5 kg weekly) can cause the release of harmful toxins into your breast milk.
- Moms who breastfeed seem to lose weight easier on their hips, buns, and thighs compared to moms who formula feed.
Breastfeeding and Weight Gain/Loss
"In my experience of breastfeeding with my first child, I found I put on weight during the first few months, which also surprised me after having read mostly only articles about breastfeeding and weight loss.
But I can attest that after about the 6-month mark, I did notice my weight stabilizing and slowly coming down again, and now I've been breastfeeding for 9 months and I'm only 2 kilos above my pre-baby weight of 68kgs (I was somewhere above 85kgs just before I gave birth.)
I don't think we should have the false expectation that breastfeeding at the beginning with help us lose weight - I remember during the first few weeks of establishing breastfeeding, I had a ferocious appetite like when I was pregnant, and I pretty much ate whatever rich and fatty foods that I felt like eating, and I did put on a couple of kilos over the first 4 - 5 months of breastfeeding. Then, after about the 6 month mark, and once baby was also on solids, I was no longer eating so much, nor did I have an irresistible appetite, so it was easier to go back to eating normally, and then I believe the breastfeeding actually helped in getting those extra few kilos off without much effort on my part.
But I wouldn't expect the pre-baby size to be back for at least 12 months with just normal habits.
I didn't try to lose weight by beginning an exercise regime or new diet, so slowly losing a bit here and there seems like a normal healthy pace.
I can't imagine trying to exercise a lot (not with these boobs! Lol) or go on a diet early on when you want the milk production to establish, so just give your body time - a year - and enjoy your extra mama padding while you have an excuse, is what I say."
Overweight Two Years Later
by: Almost giving up (WA)
"I was 155 when I got prego. Was 223 at full term. Was 212 after I had her. And was back up to 228 at her five days checkup.
Since then been up to 233 to 221. I changed my diet and started to go to the gym. I've eaten out twice since she was born - all organic fresh foods at home.
Still nursing at 20 months and still can't get any weight off. My Doc. says it's my food, but my friend weighed the same, and we both ate the same diet and went to the gym together, and she lost 20 pounds the first month. I don't know what to do. I also work 12-hour shifts as a health care worker and am lifting people and on my feet most of the day 100 hours every two weeks.
I feel at a loss, and it seems like my Doc thinks my hubby and I must be lying to her about what I eat because all I get from them is do weight watchers.
Has anyone else not lost any weight while nursing or gained it?
MY kid nurses 2 to 4 times a day on average. Sometimes more. Anyone have any ideas other than eating healthily and drinking water - stuff I already know and have tried. Thanks, ladies."
Re: breastfeeding and weight loss
"Some people swear they can't lose a pound till they stop breastfeeding. I would be interested to know how your weight loss goes when you completely stop. Those who say they keep on weight while breastfeeding say that even if they are nursing one time per day they kept the weight on, it was only when they completely stopped that they were able to shed it. Good luck!
Re: You are not alone!
"Wow - good to hear that someone else has the same experience as me!
Though of course, I am sorry that you are struggling - it's hard, isn't it?
I found that after my 1st baby I also gained a lot of weight while breastfeeding - in both cases I have been heavier while breastfeeding than I was during pregnancy.
And yes, I have also done all the hardcore dieting and exercise (though that is a bit harder with 2) and nothing changes.
My only hope is that when I wean, it will change. I am also working with a very good Dr. and we have found that my hormones are strongly out of whack.
He said that my system has essentially gone into stasis and it wouldn't matter what I did, the weight would not shift until my hormones find balance.
We are using herbal supplements to remedy this, but I still think I need to wean now so I can get my health back - even though I wanted to keep breastfeeding till my son chooses to wean himself - but I just can't go on another year or two like this...
So, maybe get your hormones checked out - hope that helps a little. Good luck."
Breastfeeding Twins for 8 Months Striving for 11 Months - Will Weight Loss Continue
"Hello! I was at 205 when I got pregnant with my twins. I delivered two healthy babies at 38 1/2 weeks weighing 217.
I lost 7 pounds at the beginning of the pregnancy because everything made me sick. Now, after breastfeeding for eight months - I weigh 170 pounds!
I've maintained this weight for the past three months. I also workout four days (5 when I can) doing circuit training and cardio. I watch what I eat and count carbs because I developed gestational diabetes during my pregnancy.
My question is how do I lose an additional 15 pounds so that when I stop breastfeeding any weight gain will keep me between 165-170. This is a healthy weight for me considering I haven't been this size in about seven years.
I seriously need some GOOD advice because I want to stay healthy and active for my kids ( I have a four-year-old too). I plan to train for a marathon soon ( my goal is to run it shortly after the twins turn 1 in July).
I'm trying to be strong and turn away from my "plain cheese its" craving and "tall cafe mocha with two equals from Starbucks. Please provide any advice you can. Also, I pump anywhere from 38-48 ounces (depending on how many times I pump with nursing) a day.
Thank you so much!!!
Re: Weight loss
"First of all high five from a fellow twin mom on achieving your breastfeeding goal and doing so well!
All my life my weight has pretty much remained the same. I tended to verge on the underweight side actually. But now after my twincesses I'm going through a phase I've never known before (also second pregnancy).
At first, I lost too much weight. I only gained 12kg during my twin pregnancy but lost 20kg during the first 6 months, which made me fall into the underweight category. It scared me a bit when I realized what a toll caring for twins - plus one took on my body. But breastfeeding them was too important for me, so I just carried on and made a point of it to eat more and better. Actually, it became easier once they started solids.
My goal was to breastfeed them for two years. We've exceeded that, they are now 2yrs 7mths, but for the past three months (I think), only one of my twincesses is still interested in having boobie and we're only doing it 2-3 times a week.
My weight is busy rocketing and I'm feeling really uncomfortable in my own skin. Even though I'm eating much less than I did while breastfeeding them often every day, I just keep adding on the pounds!
I've even swapped wardrobes with my sister who's all our lives has been a size or two bigger than me. Not that the better fitting clothes are helping much for physically feeling uncomfortable.
I also have to add that I have never been a very active or sporty person. So I think you have a much greater advantage in that area. Don't stop doing it!
My mom's friend and my mom's sister both had twins. They told me that once you stop breastfeeding, your weight easily skyrockets...but I thought it wouldn't happen to me - since weight gain was never an issue for me. How very wrong I was... It's now happening.
So, even though I don't have any solid advice for you, I just want you to be aware of this fact.
Your body after one baby is one thing. Your body after two babies at once is a whole different thing!! Your body changes much more than you think.
Hope this helps you in some way. Keep being such an awesome mom!"
Can't Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
"I started off 105 5'3, and by the end of my pregnancy, I was 148.
I lost about 20 pounds in the first month, which was all fluids because everything is measuring the same!
I've been breastfeeding for four months and planned to for as long as my daughter wants.
It's hard though because I know my body is just hanging on to the extra weight until I wean. I eat so healthy. it's not my fault."
Re: Can't Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
"Hi, I found the same, except I don't think it has anything to do with breastfeeding. I think our bodies change after childbirth, making it a little more difficult to lose weight?! It doesn't make sense to me that breastfeeding would prevent weight loss since you use extra calories to produce breast milk."
Re: Me Neither.
"I have an 8-month-old who I breastfed exclusively for 6 months and still do about 4-5 times a day.
I am a Registered Dietitian so, I am very aware of the calories I eat, I have tried limiting them, have tried eating to hunger, have tried eating however much I want with no restrictions - all the same result of no loss, no gain, just stable.
I introduced solids at around 6 months and this came with SOME weight loss, about 8 of the 18 lbs I have to lose since giving birth.
I am holding on to hope that once my period comes back and hormone levels even out again, that I will be able to slowly shake off those last few lbs.
Also worth mentioning, I have been moderately active since he was at least 2 months old (hour-long walks and strength training).
Hang in there and try not to let it bother you too much, but I feel your frustration!"
Losing Too Much Too Fast
by Rachel (Indiana)
"I have an almost 4-month-old. I lost pretty much all of my pregnancy weight by my six weeks check-up.
I have not exercised one bit; I eat three meals a day and snack in between. I have always been a tall, thin woman, but I am a little concerned.
Since my six week checkup, I feel as though I am still losing weight. I started eating (exclusively pumping around eight weeks due to flat nipples). I am still doing so, but my little one seems to be increasing his appetite.
So here are my concerns, I feel like I am not supplying enough milk for him, I have used all that I had frozen for five weeks, which was about 60 ounces. And I feel like I have lost too much weight.
Pre-pregnancy I weighed 136lbs, and I am nearly 6' tall. I gained 35lbs during my pregnancy and lost every bit of it by my six weeks check up and have lost several more lbs since then.
None of my clothes fit, my pants fall off of me. I know that most women complain about not losing enough weight, but I am worried that I am losing too much.
I have always been a stick of a woman, and I was enjoying having some curves for once. I have always had a high metabolism; I eat a lot.
I'm not sure what to do about the weight and my milk supply, I wonder if they are linked?"