Breastfeeding Diet

Most women are concerned with losing their “baby weight” after giving birth.  Breastfeeding can help a woman achieve this.  A considerable amount of weight comes from the enlarged uterus.  Breastfeeding triggers the release of hormones which help the uterus shrink back to the size it was before pregnancy. 

It is very important for a woman to eat healthily when breastfeeding due to the fact that the food she ingests becomes part of the breast milk.  The healthier your eating choices the better nutrition your baby is getting as well as helping you to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.  Most healthy breastfeeding women can maintain an abundant supply of milk by in taking 1800-2200 calories a day.  This is because approximately 500 calories or more are burned each day in the production of breast milk.

It is important to maintain an increased amount of caloric intake when breastfeeding otherwise your body will not have enough to take care of you as well as produce milk for your baby.  If you are not consuming enough calories a day, your milk production will decrease.  Many mothers find that eating small, frequent snacks and meals while drinking plenty of fluids will help them lose weight. 

If you are considering returning to or beginning an exercise routine, check with your healthcare provider for approval first.  Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you how soon it is safe for you to return to exercising based on what happened during your labor and delivery.  Typically women who have a normal birth can return to exercising approximately 6 weeks after birth.  If you had a C-Section, the amount of recovery time will be increased and therefore you should wait until fully recovered to return to an exercise program.

Some women find that breastfeeding alone is sufficient to help them lose the weight and other women have difficulty losing the weight even when breastfeeding.  Many factors influence your ability to lose weight including your metabolism, food choices, and your activity levels.  The best plan is to lose the weight gradually.  You should plan on taking 10 months to a year to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.  After all, it took you that long to put it on.  Also, you do not want to put yourself on a strict weight loss diet until at least 2 months after birth.  Doing so sooner can hurt your milk supply.  You should strive to lose approximately 1 pound per week.  Extreme and rapid weight loss can hurt your baby due to the fact that toxins are released into your bloodstream and milk with rapid weight loss.

Be sure that you are not filing up on “empty calories.”  The quality of food intake is just as important if not more important than the quantity consumed when breastfeeding.  Also, you need to make sure you are eating enough foods with calcium, folic acid, and DHA to aid in your baby’s healthy growth and development.  If you follow the food pyramid, drink plenty of water, limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, as well as continue to take your prenatal vitamins, you will be in a good position to lose your “baby weight” as quickly and safely as possible.