One thing that might be on your mind after you have your baby is, "How do I lose all this baby weight?" It is tempting to think the fastest weight loss solution is to turn to crash diets and exercise frenzies. If only that worked! In fact, this quick-fix approach can negatively affect your breast milk supply.
With the right approach though you can definitely lose weight while breastfeeding. Consult with your doctor first to make sure now is the right time for you to began a diet and exercise plan. Then check out this video where I share a few important things to keep in mind:
It is important to remember that you essentially put in your milk supply for the whole breastfeeding experience during the first two months after your baby is born. You need to make sure you're getting enough calories to provide for your body's needs as well as for the milk that you're making for your baby. If you're exclusively breastfeeding, you need about 400-500 extra calories a day as compared to only about 300 extra calories during pregnancy. People feel like they can eat for two while they're pregnant, then go on crash diets after delivery. Unfortunately dieting like that can cause problems with your milk supply.
Instead of cutting calories, fill your diet with good, healthy foods. Try eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and start incorporating good lean proteins and low fat dairy into your meals. Also be sure that you're well hydrated, especially if you're exercising. If you don't drink enough water or eat enough healthy calories, you might see your milk supply decrease.
When it comes to exercise, be careful when you start. You need to give your body, especially your uterus, time to totally heal. The vessels that were feeding your baby are still there after your baby is born, and your uterus needs to clamp down like a tourniquet to control the bleeding. If you increase activity too soon, you can start to bleed again. Most doctors recommend that you don't start vigorous exercise until about six weeks after a vaginal delivery and about eight weeks after a C-section.
After that waiting period you can start any exercise program that you feel is going to suit you well. You should aim to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes on most days of the week. But don’t stress about it too much. Just do as much as you can and develop a routine. It’s possible even with a newborn! You will likely be very tired from sleep deprivation, but you'll find that exercise actually helps increase your morale and make you feel better about things overall.
Aim to get your heart rate up and into a good fat-burning zone. There are many target heart rate calculators on the Internet that can help you determine what is the best rate for your weight, height, and age. Try incorporating some strength training exercises into your workout as well. These help rev your metabolism and burn fat and calories even at rest.
Your Milk Supply
Generally, women don't notice a decrease in their milk supply when they start exercising. It is possible though, regardless if you are eating and drinking enough. Here are some techniques you can try before you forgo exercising all together.
- Cut back the intensity of your workout.
- Try feeding your baby more frequently throughout the day. For example, if your baby normally eats every 2-3 hours, throw in an extra feeding every now and then during the day.
- If you have a pump available to you, pump for 10 minutes after each nursing session during the day.
Remember, it took nine months to put the weight on and it could take that long to get it off. As you continue to eat well and add exercise to your regular routine, you’ll probably notice that the weight will come off naturally, all without affecting your milk supply. Just set realistic goals and expectations for yourself and enjoy this time with your new baby!
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them on our Facebook page, Intermountain Moms, and recommend us to your friends and family too.