After giving birth you will probably not feel quite like yourself, you may feel like a stranger in your own body, unfamiliar with all of this excess weight you gained during your pregnancy. One possible way to begin the process of helping your body return to your post-baby weight could be breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bring you and your baby closer together in the postpartum period as you get to know your baby and your baby gets to know the world around them. Breastfeeding as a tool to lose weight does work for many new parents, however not all women will find themselves shedding the pounds as quickly, despite this.
While many different websites out there may tell you resoundingly that breastfeeding promotes weight loss, the answer is oftentimes not as simple as we are being led to believe. When asking ourselves the question of whether or not breastfeeding promotes weight loss, we need to be looking closely at the individual’s body type, weight gain during pregnancy, lifestyle and fitness levels to gain a larger picture of what may or may not bring about loss of weight in the postpartum period.
Many women may find that they have an easy time losing their baby weight shortly after delivering, and others may find that the pounds do not shed quite as quickly or easily as expected. When we give overly simplistic answers about something as complex as the human body, especially after birth, we are setting women up for unrealistic expectations and body image issues.
Having a baby is tough on your body and requires a careful level of gentleness with yourself in the first year of your baby’s life. Fully recovering from childbirth is more than just losing weight, it is organs shifting back into their original spaces, hormone levels balancing themselves, and many other factors.
Breastfeeding alone can burn up to 500 calories a day, which is a significant amount! If you are wondering why you lost weight so quickly while breastfeeding, this may be your answer! However, many women find they also need to nourish their bodies more to sustain the ability to continue to breastfeed over time.
These extra calories you intake can cancel out the calories you burn, making you wonder why you are struggling to lose weight. Make sure to choose healthy meals and snacks with high calories such as nut butter, eggs, avocado, salmon, and milk. Choosing processed foods with high calories and limited nutrition will make your body have to work harder to nourish your baby through breastfeeding as well as making losing weight much more difficult.
Getting active in addition to breastfeeding is always a great idea when you are working towards a certain weight loss goal. Your body changes a lot while pregnant, and you may find that you have lost a lot of muscle mass and tone. There are some great workouts out there to be found specifically geared towards the postpartum period, being more conscious of the limitations of your body fresh after having a baby.
Some moms find working out easy to get back into as a way to make time for themselves after having the baby, and other moms struggle to find the time to work out amid all of the other daily tasks and business that life brings with a new baby. Some moms have more support than others, more time off, or just more energy, so if you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to get started working out, be easy on yourself. Know that in time your energy will return, and you will begin to feel like yourself again!
If you are eating healthy, working out, and the weight is still not coming off while breastfeeding, hormones may be the culprit. The hormone prolactin is the main hormone in your ability to breastfeed, but it also can significantly impact your metabolism, meaning that despite your best efforts, you may just have to wait it out to see much change. Nothing is a guarantee though, so even after you stop breastfeeding, and have a healthy lifestyle if you still haven’t seen much improvement, it may be a good idea to check in with your doctor to see if there is anything else that may be an underlying problem, such as a thyroid issue.
If you are having a hard time losing weight while breastfeeding, be gentle with yourself, and know that it may just take some time to adjust to this new chapter of life with your baby. No matter if you choose to breastfeed for several months, a year, or several years, you accomplished something amazing by nourishing your baby!
Try to remember that while society values the “bounce back” after baby, no matter where you are in your postpartum journey, your body created an entire tiny beautiful human being, and you have worked so hard up to this point. There is so much beauty in this space you are in, and It’s okay to rest for a while to soak in all those sweet baby snuggles.