The blog is written by our guest writer, Chelsey, Founder of BreathePlayLaugh.com. Chelsey is a former 2nd-grade teacher & now a stay-at-home mama. Her goal is to help every mom live a healthy lifestyle and enjoys sharing tips on pregnancy, breastfeeding, postpartum, and overall toddler health.
Weight loss while breastfeeding is challenging for many reasons. For example, your body just went through significant physical and hormonal changes. You have a new little person to take care of, and your time is limited. I mean, regarding choosing between a workout or a nap, most new mamas (including myself) are going to choose naptime.
However, weight loss while breastfeeding is possible. And, the best news is you do not need to choose between sleep and workouts. By applying simple everyday changes, you will be able to maintain your milk supply while losing weight!
Now, let’s get into the details!
What causes weight gain while breastfeeding
The initial weight gain comes from pregnancy. The average woman gains around 25-35 pounds. To put that in perspective, that would be like carrying around 4 gallons of milk. AT ALL TIMES!
It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it. So, give yourself some grace. You did just create a little human.
Nevertheless, it is normal to want to lose the baby weight. After your bundle of joy arrives, you will just be left with a loose tummy. And, no one enjoys this.
In addition to weight gain during pregnancy, some women experience additional weight gain after delivery. Why is this?
Well, it could be many different reasons. Including lack of exercise, increased appetite, or imbalanced hormones. Therefore, if you are experiencing weight gain after pregnancy. Don’t panic. It is normal.
And, luckily we live in a time where anything can be easily researched. Many new mamas have experienced this same phenomenon. Including myself.
I hope this article helps you understand your body's needs. Also, I hope this information helps you begin losing weight while breastfeeding.
How fast can you lose weight after pregnancy?
Unfortunately, this is different for everyone. Some women lose the baby weight within three months postpartum. However, six months postpartum is more common.
If you think six months sounds like an eternity. It won’t be. The fastest year of my life (and most mamas) is the baby's first year. Time will fly by.
So, try your best to relax. Don’t overdo it by implementing fad diets, extreme exercise programs, and not consuming enough calories. Fad diets and extreme exercise programs have never worked in the long term. Don’t waste time or energy on these programs.
By implementing simple everyday changes and rethinking the way you think about food. You will not only lose the baby weight. But you will keep the baby weight off. Additionally, you will be happier, less stressed, and your overall health will be improved.
7 Tips for weight loss while breastfeeding
The first tip is to be patient. Because you just had a baby. You spent nine months growing a tiny human. And man, it is exhausting. Now, you are tired from being up all night. Your spare time is spent researching breastfeeding recipes and how to get your newborn to sleep. And, for the first couple of months, weight loss shouldn’t be your goal.
Enjoy the first couple of months with your baby and focus on healthy eating, sleeping, and newborn snuggles. Coming from personal experience, if you push yourself to exercise too quickly, you will set yourself back.
Clean eating has become a popular concept. And, this is a popular diet I can get behind. Because it is not a fad diet. Clean eating will change the way you think about food. No more counting calories, paying for online weight loss programs or purchasing weight loss protein bars.
Clean eating is simply eating whole foods. Including proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Additionally, clean eating is avoiding processed foods.
Clean eating will help with weight loss while breastfeeding because you will be consuming key nutrients. Also, once you switch from processed foods to whole foods, your body will begin burning fat. Instead of storing fat.
Consume enough calories
Weight loss in general is hard. However, it becomes even more changeling when you are worried about milk supply. Many mamas experience problems with weight loss while breastfeeding because they are not consuming enough calories.
While breastfeeding you are burning between 200-300 calories a day. Therefore, to maintain a healthy weight and milk supply you need to consume additional calories. Now, that does not mean eating an extra donut. As delicious as that sounds. It unfortunately would not help with weight loss.
To maximize your extra calories, try adding a couple of healthy snacks a day. Not only will this help with weight loss, but it will give your baby the added nutrients they need.
Below are some healthy milk boosting snacks:Homemade Popcorn (100 calories a cup)
Dark Chocolate (150 calories per ounce)
Lara Bars (100 calories for the mini Lara bars)
Simple Mills Cheddar Crackers (150 calories for 17 crackers)
BabyBel Cheese (60 calories)
Veggies and Hummus (25 calories a tablespoon)
Hard Boiled Egg (78 calories)
Edamame (189 calories a cup)
Whole Milk Greek Yogurt (220 calories a cup)
Mixed Nuts (172 calories per ounce)
Eat healthy fats and protein
Fats used to have a bad reputation. Now, they are a new household stable. The avocado seems to have taken on a food group of its own.
New research shows that consuming healthy fats provides your body with fatty acids. Fatty acids are not made by our bodies. Therefore, we must consume foods that contain fatty acids. Additionally, healthy fats help increase milk supply by adding nutrient-dense calories to your diet.
Protein is KING for weight loss. Protein has endless benefits. Including reducing hunger, helping heal your postpartum body, and consuming protein will help you fight sugar cravings.
Therefore, starting your day with a protein-packed breakfast will help you fight off cravings for the rest of the day. Additionally, protein is essential for milk supply. Breastfeeding women should consume around 50 grams of protein a day.
High protein breakfast ideas:Scrambled Eggs
Hard Boiled Eggs
Clean Protein Shake
Almond Butter Toast with Chia Seeds
Cottage Cheese with Fruit
Eggs and Turkey Bacon
Chicken Sausage Omelet
Protein Waffles (made with clean protein powder)
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Water is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, water is key to maintaining a healthy weight and milk supply. Water protects your organs, delivers oxygen to your cells, and flushes out the toxins in your body. Therefore, water should be the first place you start when changing your health.
Breastfeeding women should drink around 90 ounces of water a day. In addition to improving your health. Water can help aid in weight loss. When you are drinking water instead of other beverages, your calorie intake will drop. For example, one can of soda contains 150 calories and 39 grams of sugar. Jeez! The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to 24 grams a day.
Avoid processed foods
The worst thing for weight loss is processed foods. However, America is known for being fast and convenient. It’s hard to go into any store without seeing processed snacks lining the aisles.
But if you are trying to lose weight while breastfeeding AVOID processed foods! Processed foods have been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and even cancer. Because processed foods contain additives, artificial dyes, sugar, trans fat, and a high amount of calories. Therefore, processed foods could be a primary reason you are not losing weight while breastfeeding.
Processed foods to AVOID:Microwave popcorn
White Bread (unless it is homemade)
Diet Snacks (100 calories Oreos)
As hard as it is, try to consume whole foods. When you go to the grocery store, avoid aisles filled with boxed items. These items contain zero nutrients and a high amount of calories. Trust me, if you eliminate processed foods you will see an improvement in your weight, health, and overall mood.
Light exercise and walks
Starting a workout program is changeling after having a baby. Firstly, because your body just went through major changes. Therefore, starting a workout routine will be difficult at first. Secondly, because newborn life is exhausting. It is often hard to find the time to fit in a workout. Lastly, many people believe a workout has to be a lot of cardio and an hour long.
This is not true! You can do 20-minute workouts and begin to see major changes. By doing 20-30 minute workouts five times a week, your body will build muscle while losing fat! Youtube is a great resource for short strength training videos. All you need is an electronic device and some free weights.
The best part, is you do not need to go to the gym. I mean, who has time for that?
Another great workout for new moms is walking. Walking burns around 100 calories a mile. Additionally, fresh air is beneficial for newborns and moms. So, try taking your baby out for a stroll once a day (weather permitting).
What to avoid
There are many things to avoid while trying to lose weight while breastfeeding.
Lack Of Sleep: If you are not getting enough sleep, your stress levels rise. Therefore, your body will begin to produce the hormone Cortisol (this hormone causes weight gain).
Solution: I know, you have heard this before. But sleep when the baby is sleeping. The laundry, workout, or whatever needs to be done can wait. The first few months your house will be messy. However, it doesn’t last forever. Enjoy a nap with your little one.
Lack Of Movement: The newborn days are filled with sitting. A LOT of sitting. It seems you are either rocking the baby or breastfeeding. Therefore, you get little movement during the first month.
Solution: Go on daily walks. Walking is an amazing exercise for new moms. Additionally, the fresh air and sunlight are wonderful for babies.
Processed Foods: As I stated above, processed foods are horrible for weight loss. 65 percent of American adults fall into the obese category. This is largely due to the consumption of processed foods and lack of exercise.
Solution: Stay away from packaged items. If you are craving cookies, make some at home. Homemade cookies are healthier. Additionally, research suggests when you spend time baking items at home, you eat less.
Sample meal plan
Weekly workout plan
To sum it up
Weight loss after pregnancy is something that most moms struggle with. Therefore, give yourself time and patience. Anyone who gains 25-35 pounds is going to take time to lose weight.
However, if you implement the strategies above. You will lose weight while breastfeeding. Additionally, the weight will stay off, and your overall health will be improved. Give the strategies above two weeks of hard work. It takes at least two weeks to build new habits.
Just remember, you just created a little human. Your pre-pregnancy body will come back on its own time. Your body just went through major hormone changes.
And most importantly, you are a new mom who is trying her best!