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The Truth About Breastfeeding and Weight Loss for Postpartum Moms

May 08, 2024

One of the biggest myths surrounding breastfeeding is that it's a surefire way to shed those pregnancy pounds quickly. As a new mom in the postpartum stage, you've likely been told by well-meaning friends and family that breastfeeding will "melt away the baby's weight." While it's true that breastfeeding does burn some extra calories, the reality is that it alone does not guarantee rapid weight loss.

In fact, drastically restricting your calorie intake while breastfeeding can actually backfire and jeopardize your milk supply. During this crucial time, your body requires a lot of extra energy and nutrients to produce breastmilk for your growing baby. Going on an extreme diet puts you at risk of becoming undernourished, which signals to your body that now is not an ideal time for breastfeeding.

The Real Keys to Postpartum Weight Loss

Instead of obsessing over calorie restriction, breastfeeding moms should focus on nourishing their bodies with a balanced diet full of wholesome, nutrient-dense foods. Getting enough calories, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals is essential for maintaining a robust milk supply while allowing your metabolism to regulate itself naturally.

In addition to a well-rounded diet, other key factors that influence your ability to lose the baby weight include:

  • Blood Sugar Balance
    When your blood sugar levels are stable, your body is much better able to shed excess weight. Frequent blood sugar spikes and crashes make it harder to lose fat. Focus on eating balanced meals with plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fats to keep blood sugar levels even.
  • Exercise
    While doing tons of cardio isn't necessarily the answer, strength training is incredibly important for preserving muscle mass and keeping your metabolism running at it's best. As you lose fat, you want to maintain and build your lean muscle tissue.
  • Sleep
    Lack of quality sleep can completely derail your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, leading to overeating and weight gain. Do your best to get adequate rest when possible during this sleep-deprived season (I know, easier said than done)!
  • Stress Management
    Chronic high stress tells your body to hang onto fat reserves for survival. Not only that, many moms turn to food to cope with emotions when they are stressed out. Find ways to actively manage your stress through meditation, deep breathing, saying no when needed, and carving out pockets of self-care.

Be Patient with Yourself

As a breastfeeding mom, your hormones are still working to regulate themselves postpartum. It can take 6-12 months for your cycle and hormones to completely return to normal after having a baby. During this adjustment period, try to be patient and gentle with yourself.

If you find yourself struggling with fatigue, low milk supply, hair loss, or other postpartum symptoms, these could be signs that your body needs more nourishment and care. Pushing too hard with dieting and deprivation will likely exacerbate these issues.

Focus on developing a sustainable lifestyle of balanced eating, proper hydration, gentle exercise, stress management, and quality sleep. When your needs are met, healthy, gradual weight loss can occur. But obsessing over the numbers on the scale will only lead to frustration. Embrace your postpartum body, celebrate your ability to nourish your baby, and know that your pre-baby body will get to it's healthiest state when the time is right.

Fueling Effectively

Breastfeeding moms are nutritional athletes who need to properly fuel their bodies for optimal energy, recovery, and milk production. Rather than restricting intake, focus on choosing nutrient-dense whole foods like:

  • Proteins: eggs, salmon, chicken, Greek yogurt
  • Healthy Fats: avocados, olive oil, nuts, nut butter
  • Fruits and Veggies: berries, leafy greens, bell peppers
  • Complex Carbs: oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes

Be sure to drink plenty of water and incorporate gentle movements like walking, yoga, or swimming. When you feel well-rested, kick it up a notch with some strength training to build lean muscle.

Most importantly, be patient and compassionate with yourself during this transition. Your body has been through a lot! As long as you focus on nourishing yourself well, the excess weight will naturally melt away over time.

If you want to reach your healthiest weight without sacrificing your milk supply or favorite foods, The Postpartum Shift program is for you! 

Did you find it helpful, Mama? Please share it with other Mamas!

Hey mama,

I'm Brooke Miller,

Before becoming a mom, I chronically dieted & thought "eat less, move more" was the healthiest option. I dealt with exhaustion, mood swings, hormone imbalances (not getting a regular cycle), high cholesterol and weight cycling. I felt like something was wrong with me.

Before I got pregnant with my first son, I discovered the balanced nutrition approach I teach inside The Postpartum Shift. Once I implemented the framework, I was energized, gained strength, got my period back, lowered my cholesterol & maintained my healthiest weight. I continued this during my pregnancies & postpartum periods and recovered quickly after birth, made more than enough milk for my babies, had energy (even with the sleep deprivation) & stable mood. Postpartum was really enjoyable.

With a decade of experience as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor, I created The Postpartum Shift to help moms boost energy, mood, metabolism & milk supply to have a stress-free & enjoyable postpartum experience.

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