Breastfeeding provides countless benefits for both mum and baby. One benefit for mummy is the potential to lose weight more quickly after giving birth.
How true is this? In this article, we will look at the science behind losing weight from breastfeeding.
Losing weight postpartum varies from woman to woman, but many nursing mothers agree that breastfeeding helped them regain their pre-baby figure more quickly. However, there are still many others who notice no effect and may even gain weight while breastfeeding.
Losing weight from Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is said to be nature’s way of helping new moms lose their baby weight. This may be because nursing mothers burn more calories each day. Research shows that exclusively breastfeeding mothers tend to burn 500 additional calories on average - which is what it takes to make breast milk for the little one! 500 calories is the equivalent of cutting out either a small meal, a large snack, or actually performing 45–60 minutes of medium-intensity physical exercise!
New moms are also more conscious of what they consume as this affects babies indirectly. A lower intake of processed food and unhealthy snacks coupled with a higher consumption of protein, fibre-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps contribute to weight loss.
With that said, mommies have to be sure to give your body enough food to fuel breastfeeding your baby. Eating lots of healthy snacks can help you get enough calories while breastfeeding. Make eating regularly a little easier by stocking up on nutritious pre-made or easy-to-prepare foods.
One such example is Cookiedealersg’s Lactation cookies or Lactation brownies. Our Lactation cookies and brownies are power-packed with galactagogues that are high fibre, gluten-free whole grains such as Rolled Oats and Steel Cut Oats. Which is the perfect snack for nursing mommies!
Both of these factors may explain why studies consistently show that breastfeeding mothers tend to lose their baby weight faster than women who don’t.
Why Some Women Don’t Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Losing weight while breastfeeding may not be equally easy for all mothers.
For one, breastfeeding tends to increase hunger. Some women eat more and move less while nursing — compensating for the extra calorie burn of breastfeeding. New mothers also tend to have irregular and interrupted periods of sleep. Sleep deprivation is another known factor for increased hunger and appetite — both of which may make it harder to lose weight. The demands of motherhood can make it easy to skip meals as you may be too tired to think about your own meals. It is recommended to avoid dieting while breastfeeding.
Secondly, average calorie burned while breastfeeding does not account for the diversity of body types among women, and sleep, stress, eating habits, physical activity, hormone changes, total pregnancy weight gain and the number of previous pregnancies. These various factors will determine whether you return to your pre-baby weight as well.
The Bottom Line
Breastfeeding may contribute to postpartum weight loss in some women, though not all nursing mothers notice an effect. Taking the time to have appetizing and accessible snacks on hand can help you get into the habit of boosting your caloric intake. If possible, ask for and accept help from loved ones. This can include your partner, friend, or parents.
To lose your baby weight, eat protein/fiber-rich whole foods, stay hydrated, and exercise (once you are cleared by your gynae to do so!). Also, avoid eating fewer than 1500–1800 calories per day, as this may affect your milk supply.
Most importantly, keep in mind that breastfeeding offers many other benefits – for both you and your baby!