How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding After Giving Birth
After watching your belly grow for nearly 10 months, you may be eager to lose baby weight. While breastfeeding may actually expedite your weight loss, you shouldn't make a concentrated effort to shed pounds during the first two months postpartum. The eight weeks after your baby's birth are essential for establishing a milk supply, and dieting may compromise your efforts, according to the La Leche League International. You can expect to lose 1.3 to 1.6 pounds per month in the first four to six months. After that, your weight loss can slow a little as your baby nurses less frequently. Be patient and give yourself at least nine months to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy.
Sitting in a rocking chair for hours nursing your baby may not feel like work, but breastfeeding blasts as much fat as a strenuous gym routine. If you breastfeed exclusively -- with no formula or food supplementation -- you may burn as many as 500 calories a day. Breastfeed your baby for at least six months, and if it is possible for you and your little one, extend the nursing relationship to a year or beyond.
In the days immediately following delivery, rest and recuperation are your first priority. Once you have the go-ahead from your obstetrician, however, it's time to start moving. If you had an uncomplicated, vaginal delivery, you may start light aerobic exercise almost immediately. Put the baby in the stroller and go for a walk. After your postpartum checkup, you should be able to resume strenuous exercise, such as running, cycling or swimming. Wear a soft, cotton sports bra to prevent breast irritation. Line the bra with pads to catch milk leakage. Ask your partner to watch the baby so you can exercise, or find a gym with childcare. Exercise will help you lose weight safely and deal with the stress of having a newborn.
When you're eager to shed baby weight, it can be tempting to jump into diet mode. If you restrict your diet too much, however, you risk affecting your milk supply. "What to Expect" magazine recommends a simple calculation to determine your calorie requirements while breastfeeding. Multiply your pre-pregnancy weight by 12 if you are sedentary, 15 if you are moderately active and 22 if you are very active, then add 400 to 500 calories for nursing. For instance, a woman who exercises for 30 to 60 minutes per day and weighed 135 pounds pre-pregnancy would need 135 times 15, plus 500 calories -- or 2,525 calories per day.
What you eat is just as important as how much you eat when you are breastfeeding. Your baby gets nutrients from your diet through breast milk, so it's essential to eat a well-balanced diet. Focus on whole grains, fruit, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy. Limit your intake of sodium, fat and sugar. Avoid diet plans that require you to eliminate a food group. You and your baby need a diverse diet for good health.