Adjusting to your new postpartum body can be tough, to say the least.
Your body is a different shape, you’re in a process of healing from what is some pretty major trauma to your most delicate parts, and you’re likely carrying a little extra weight compared to your pre-baby body.
And, you are dealing with all of that while trying to sustain another life…With those challenges in mind, it’s tempting to want to jump off the deep end and dive right into trying to lose weight, but that can be pretty detrimental to your health and the health of your little one, especially if you are breastfeeding. So, what can you do? It is possible to lose weight while breastfeeding; however, you need to do it the safe way.
I was fortunate and had a relatively easy time losing weight while breastfeeding; however, I did have to work at it. And, even still, some women who work at losing weight while breastfeeding really struggle.
In any case, I’d like to share a few tips that have worked for me to do two things:
- To help you lose weight without losing your milk and
- To help you develop healthy habits that you can sustain.
I’m not going to guarantee that you’ll start losing as soon as you adopt these practices, but I do promise that you’ll be much healthier for them. And, once you have weaned your little one, it should be much easier to continue with a healthy lifestyle.
The Struggle to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
There are a few unique components that make losing weight while nursing even trickier than typical weight loss. For starters, if you want to be able to continue breastfeeding, you need to be able to lose weight without losing your milk. That is easier said than done for some women, as any change in your diet can affect your supply.
The other component that makes post-pregnancy weight loss more difficult for some women than others is essentially chemical makeup. Obviously, during and following pregnancy, your body is wrought with hormones and that activity has an effect on all areas of your health.
One hormone, in particular, prolactin, remains especially high during the first six months after giving birth.
While this hormone is important for milk production, it has also been found to prevent weight loss and even cause weight gain because it affects how the body metabolizes fat. So, for some women, your bodies are literally just holding on to weight to protect your milk supply.
My Tips for Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
While pregnant with my daughter, I gained around 20 pounds, which is right within the recommended amount for pregnant women. But, I set a goal for myself to lose as much of the baby weight as I could by Christmas and then to keep pushing from there to be as healthy as I could. I was able to safely lose 43 pounds following my daughter’s birth, and here is how I did it.
1. Follow a Balanced Eating Plan
Because I wanted to be able to continue breastfeeding, I knew I needed to really focus on nutrition. It was important for me to be able to start losing weight without losing my milk, so I did a little research. I came across the 21 Day Fix and realized that the color-coded portion control system was just what I needed. With the system, I was able to relearn how to fuel my body, focusing on eating a diet rich in protein, veggies, and healthy fats while eating fewer fruits and carbohydrates as these foods contain more sugar. The approach was really balanced and boosted my energy even though I was watching what I was eating. And, I found that it actually supported my milk supply with all the nutrition I was getting rather than limiting it.
2. Drink Water
Drinking plenty of water was also essential to my weight loss efforts. Your body is 70% water, so you need plenty of it for your body to function at an optimal level. And, you need even more while breastfeeding. Water helps flush out your system, reduces any water retention, and limits inflammation in your body. I set a goal to drink my weight in ounces each day, and I feel much better on days that I actually get that much.
3. Find an Effective Workout Plan
It’s not very likely that you’ll be able to effectively lose the weight that you want unless you start exercising too. Exercise can affect your milk supply as well, which is why it’s important to keep this component balanced as well. I found the 21 Day Fix workout plan to be the perfect combination of cardio, strength training, and mind-body fitness. And, the fact that all of the workouts were right around 30 minutes and I could do them at home to maximize my time, made it even better! The program helped me build lean muscle while I lost weight and even supported my energy and mood, which is so important in those early days with a little one.
4. Listen to Your Body
While it can be tempting to just keep pushing to try to lose the weight, if you don’t listen to your body, you could end up hurting your body more than helping it. For me, I had to strike a balance with my eating and even had to choose to modify some exercises as I first started working out again. I suggest starting out in a calorie bracket above you actual caloric intake as a breastfeeding mom to make sure that you account for milk supply. That’s what I did to start out with, but I actually realized it ended up being too much for me and had to bump back down.
Listen to your body!
Likewise, there were times when I tried to push myself during workouts and then experienced some pain at which point I modified the exercise. It’s so important that you not push too hard here because your body is still recovering. So, always be sure to listen to your body while exercising and choose a modifier is something is too strenuous. While challenging yourself and even experiencing a bit of discomfort is good, pain is not.
Losing weight while breastfeeding isn’t easy unless you are one of the lucky ones. 😉
But, it is possible with a bit of effort and the right plan.
The 21 Day Fix is a really great approach for many new mamas, as it simplifies healthy eating and offers 30-minute workouts that are highly effective. If you are interested in losing weight while breastfeeding without losing your milk, I’d love to hear from you and support your efforts!