Here’s some news you might be happy about: Most women do lose weight while breastfeeding, and tend to lose it at a faster rate than moms who don’t breastfeed. In fact, research shows that most breastfeeding mothers are back to their pre-pregnancy weight by one year and lose more weight between nine and twelve months than between three and six months. What’s more, women who breastfeed (exclusively or partially) have slimmer hips by one month postpartum than women who exclusively formula-feed. (Read more about breastfeeding basics.)
How to lose weight while breastfeeding
If you want to lose weight while breastfeeding at a faster rate, you can increase your exercise level and eliminate about 100 calories per day (say, by cutting out dessert or skipping the sugary syrup in your latte). The minimum daily intake recommended for an average-sized breastfeeding woman is 1800 calories. If you were overweight prior to your pregnancy, you may be able to eat less.
Even though you want to lose weight while breastfeeding, know that you need to eat nutritious fare to nourish your baby. Eat a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, protein-rich foods, and foods high in calcium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and folate. Liquid diets, crash diets and weight loss medications are not recommended.
Another thing: It’s okay to lose weight while breastfeeding, just do it slowly. Avoid any attempts at dieting in the first couple of months when you’re still recovering from giving birth and establishing your milk production. Losing weight too rapidly may lower your energy level and decrease your resistance to illness. You can safely lose up to 1-2 pounds per month without affecting your milk production or your baby’s growth. If you are significantly overweight, you can lose 4-5 pounds per month.