Losing weight while breastfeeding is a dream for many new moms. This task is certainly not the easiest one, and you should be very careful and use common sense when trying to lose weight. However, it is also not a mission doomed to failure. In this article, you will learn some expert tips on how to get back in shape after pregnancy without compromising the quality of the food you provide to your baby.
Change of body shape after childbirth
For most of us, seeing ourselves in the mirror right after giving birth is hard to accept easily. Hence, most of us want the body to take on more attractive shapes as soon as possible. However, shedding the extra pounds after giving birth - especially during the breastfeeding period when you are hungry like a wolf all the time - is definitely not an easy task and you should not rush your pursuit.
Only after the first few weeks after childbirth have passed (the body needs time to heal from injuries sustained during childbirth), it is possible to safely start the journey towards the lost form. Here are tips on how to lose weight while breastfeeding without compromising your food stores.
Diet While Breastfeeding
Most experts advise against any restrictive diets while breastfeeding. This is because your body needs additional fuel to produce nutrient-rich milk - about 500 extra calories a day.
"We strongly advise mothers not to be on a particularly restrictive diet - nothing less than 1,500 calories a day, which would prevent them from producing a solid supply of milk," advises Shannon Davids of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Overall, a diet of 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day is optimal for overall nutrition, recovery, and effective breastfeeding.
While some breastfeeding women lose weight quickly without much effort (because the act of feeding itself burns a lot of calories), others need to be much more careful about what and how much they eat. Let us explore, which foods are preferred and best avoided to support your weight loss goals while breastfeeding?
What to eat while breastfeeding?
According to Mary Jane Detroyer, a New York based dietitian and personal trainer, if you want to lose weight as quickly as possible while breastfeeding… don't count the calories. Pay rather close attention to the quality of the food you eat. Instead of eating less, which is likely to affect your milk supply, make your meals healthy and nutritious. Then they can even be slightly larger than usual. "Add extra grams of protein, a cup of starch and a quarter cup of vegetables to your dish - that's all you need," she says. "Problems arise when you replace nutrient-rich foods with quick, easy-to-cook meals that don't have that value."
Grabbing a bag of chips or cookies while you're exhausted between feedings can be convenient, but a better option would be cheese or a handful of almonds or peanut butter crackers, for example. Try to stock up on the following food groups to get your body back on track and keep your milk as nutritious as possible:
Fruits, vegetables and grains rich in minerals and vitamins, such as whole grain wheat, rye, quinoa and millet.
Starches that provide energy to help the body make milk, such as beans, potatoes, pasta, and rice.
Lean protein from meat, fish and nuts helps build and repair body tissues.
Fat - Your diet does not affect the amount of fat in your milk, but it does affect the type of fat. Olive oil, cheese, eggs, avocados, nuts, and seeds help to ensure a balance of monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your baby's brain to develop properly.
Water - Breast milk is about 90 percent water, but you don't need to drink water continuously to stay hydrated. On the other hand, drinking too much will not make you excess milk. Drink when you are thirsty and watch the color of your urine. When it's dark, it's better to drink more.
Here are some foods experts recommend to cut back to help you lose weight while you are breastfeeding:
-Empty calorie snacks such as french fries, candies, and sodas.
-Sweet foods that contribute to inflammation.
-Alcohol, which may further impair your baby's development.
Physical exercise after childbirth
Consciously choosing what you eat is crucial to speeding up your metabolism and losing weight while you are breastfeeding, without sacrificing the quality or quantity of your milk, but postnatal exercise should also be part of your plan. A reasonable amount of exercise gives energy and aids weight reduction, but also helps restore the proper stretching of the abdominal muscles.
"It's not just about the extra pounds, the tissue in your body changes as well," says Susan Clinton, a physical therapist and co-founder of Embody Physiotherapy and Wellness in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. "A lot of people view a sagging belly as just fat to lose, but more to the point, it is the muscles that have to learn to come back into the shortened position in order to be part of the abdominal wall again."
The natural effort associated with the postpartum period in the form of lifting a newborn baby, walking up stairs, pushing a stroller - is enough to get the body moving in the first two or three weeks after giving birth. It is very important to adjust the range of activity to the recovery stage after childbirth.
Other ways to rebuild your muscles after childbirth and lose weight while breastfeeding:
-Do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic area.
-Suck in your stomach, which can also help strengthen your stomach muscles.
-Gently stretch the parts of the body that are particularly stressed by breastfeeding: shoulders, back and chest.
-Go for a walk, even a short one, each day.
-Carry your baby close to your body to protect your abdominal wall.
Once your doctor gives you the green light to exercise more often (usually 6-8 weeks postpartum), continue to exercise extreme caution and increase the effort in stages. "If you're very tired, the worst you can do is high-intensity exercise," says Clinton.
To get back in shape efficiently while breastfeeding, try introducing up to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, such as 20 to 30 minutes of walking a day. You can also do yoga or tai chi, especially if you did it before pregnancy. "Exercise does not affect the composition of breast milk, but you should replace the fluids lost during exercise to maintain your milk supply," advises Davids. You can also express your milk before training to help keep it from feeling uncomfortable.
Watch your body for signs that you may be returning to training too soon. If you regularly leak urine while exercising, sneeze excessively during workouts, or experience recurrent joint pain, better slow down and give your body more time to recover.
And one more piece of advice at the end. Stay away from social media, articles, and TV shows that show how quickly other moms have lost weight after giving birth. Each organism is different and focus on your own journey. Comparing yourself to others can upset you and discourage you, and that's the easy way to get into nervous hassle. Instead of being obsessed with the numbers your weight shows you, try to get to the point where you feel healthy, happy and strong.
Written by : Justyna Maslanka – Isler