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Monday
Sep032012

How To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding Without Losing Your Milk Supply

Last week, Tracy Anderson made some pretty provocative comments about women using pregnancy as an ‘excuse’ to gain weight, to eat whatever they want, and keep on the weight after having a baby.  Tracy, having given birth just 3 months ago, has already lost all of her pregnancy weight, yet remember ladies….. this is not a normal expectation for us regular moms out there.   While most of us in the real world cannot spend hours a day, or thousands of dollars, working to lose weight and tone our bodies after our babies are born, her body and exercise program is what she is KNOWN for.

 

Tracy Anderson Ups Ante For Losing Baby Weight (ABC News) 

What I did appreciate was that Tracy mentioned that when you are losing weight while breastfeeding, you can’t forgo the nutritional aspect of the foods you eat and the calories you need to maintain your breastfeeding relationship.  I’ve seen Tracy talk about her daily nutrition and this woman eats more than her fair share of nutrient dense foods, healthy fats, and protein, which are all going to keep up your milk supply while you exercise and gently shed those pounds after birth.

 

Now, here is the deal…. we ALL want to lose our pregnancy weight after we have our babies.  Yet it is really important to make sure you are losing weight healthily so that your milk supply doesn’t end up slowly sinking away.  Excessive dieting CAN reduce your milk supply.  So here are a few tips to keep in mind.

 

All rights reserved by cemillerphotography.photoshelter.comTips to Losing Pregnancy Weight While Maintaining Your Milk Supply:

  1. On average, a breastfeeding mom needs an extra 300-500 calories per day than was needed to maintain her pre-pregnancy weight to keep a sturdy milk supply. (Kellymom)
  2. A healthy, well-nourished breastfeeding mom can safely lose up to 1 pound per week. (Lauwers, Counseling the Nursing Mom)
  3. After your baby is 2 months old, exercising moderately can help you burn more fat while building muscle mass, therefore helping you shed those extra pounds. (Kellymom)

 

 

I also interviewed Leigh-Ann Webster, owner of 52 Healthy Weeks, who is a Licensed Wellcoach, a Certified Personal Trainer and a Nutrition for Fitness Coach.  Here’s what she had to say about eating a healthy postpartum diet while trying to lose the pregnancy weight.

 

"Every woman wants to return to her pre-pregnancy weight as quickly as possible. But, if you’re breastfeeding, it’s really important to focus on foods that are nutrient dense so you have the energy to care for your baby, to put towards all of your other responsibilities, and to exercise. Remember that producing milk takes a lot of your body’s resources and energy!

The following foods will help you feel good so you have the energy to get through your day with flying colors. Well, maybe not quite flying colors due to the lack of sleep that comes with having an infant, but you will certainly feel better than you would with a low calorie and nutrient-deprived diet.

 

Aim to eat foods that contain high amounts of Omega 3’s. These include walnuts, eggs that have been fortified with Omega 3’s, low sugar breakfast cereals that have been fortified with Omega 3’s, salmon, basil and spinach.

 

Eat consistently throughout the day.  By doing this you will accomplish 3 things. First, your metabolism will stay revved up because you are constantly fueling it. Second, your body will not become depleted of vital nutrients  needed to make breastmilk. Third, your energy will remain more consistent throughout the day.

 

Eat lots of iron-rich foods.  Focus on foods like lean cuts of beef, spinach, lentils, black beans and leafy green vegetables.

 

Eat a diet that rich in complex carbohydrates.  Focus on whole grain or whole wheat products and avoid empty calories from “white” products. Eat whole grain English muffins, bran muffins, brown rice, wheat pasta, sweet potatoes and lots of vegetables.

 

Eat a diet that is rich in calcium and protein.  Snack on foods like yogurt, string cheese, smoothies made with milk or almond milk and a banana.

 

Aim to eat the color of the rainbow each day when you are choosing fruits and vegetables.

 

In addition, some research indicates that high-intensity exercise can lead to a build-up of lactic acid which will result in sour tasting breast milk, although perfectly fine to feed the baby. This 1992 study was fairly inconclusive.  Yet if you find that your baby begins rejecting your milk, and you have been doing intense intervals (where your heart rate would be very high), then cut back a bit and see if that helps.  Also, make sure you take a shower, as salty sweat could also change the flavor of your milk!

 

What tips do you have to maintain your milk supply while losing pregnancy weight?

What are your favorite foods to keep up your energy level while working out?

 

 

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Reader Comments (3)

Hi Robin, Great post! You have a lot of great tips here and I like that you have expert sources.

For me, I tried to set a realistic goal of losing the baby weight in 9 months (9 on, 9 off, right?) I eat similar to your suggestions and exercise three times a week. I love to exercise for "me time" and to strengthen my back and posture muscles that get worked from breastfeeding and holding baby. I think the hardest part of exercise post baby is finding the time. During my maternity leave I did mom and baby yoga and mom and baby pilates. Once I went back to work at 4 mos pp, I made 1-2 bar method classes a part of my schedule. I work out before going to work, maximizing the time I have childcare. My husband also "lets" me go once during the weekend. Now that I'm approaching one year and still breastfeeding, I'm actually struggling to keep weight on.

If you don't mind me linking to my own blog here is a recipe to my favorite high energy snack. As a bonus, it is also a galactagogue. I'm actually making a batch right now!

BabyBirdsFarm.com/raw-energy-bites

I'm also excited about drinking Raspberry Leaf tea again! Even after returning to prepregnancy weight around 8-9 mos pp, I still noticed my lower tummy being flabby. Since Raspberry Leaf is a uterine toner and helped my third trimester, I tried it again this summer, and I really believe it helped flatten my stomach!

BabyBirdsFarm.com/red-raspberry-leaf-iced-tea

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbby

Great article! I just posted this on the Ohana Wellness FB page. So often the breastfeeding aspect of postpartum weight loss is ignored. Thanks Robin!

September 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel Rainbolt

AGREED! I am pumping and exclusively breastfeeding (I pump around 12 ounces a day, plus exclusively nurse…he’s only had 3 bottles). I am up to running 20+ miles a week and working out 6 days a week, and no problems so far. However, I do eat 5-6 times a day (I am really hungry!!!!) and I drink water like you would not believe. When he wakes to eat, I try to chug at least 6-8 ounces myself….and sometimes I can’t stop, I am sooooo thirsty!

This is great to share with people though, so they aren’t afraid to get out there.

One thing a friend told me was that if you do notice a bit of a drop (even though you think you are eating andr rinking enough)….add healthy fats and drink more water. She said she added avocado or chia seeds to EVERYTHING. =)

October 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAurora T. Agee

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