Why You Can’t Seem to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
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Why You Might Be Feeling Like You Can’t Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Serena Williams recently spoke about how she struggled losing weight while breastfeeding (check out the whole article here). If this resonates with you – you’re not the only one!
As much of an advocate as I am for breastfeeding, I was not one of those women you hear about who drops back to her pre-pregnancy weight a week into breastfeeding.
I had a friend post on Facebook about how “breastfeeding is amazing, I already weigh less than I did before I got pregnant!”.
My subconscious couldn’t help but respond rub it in why don’t you.
Here’s the real story – my diet remained the same and I exercised regularly, but I couldn’t shake those extra 10 pounds.
I stopped breastfeeding.
I finally, and very quickly, returned to my pre-pregnancy weight once I weaned my baby.
So what’s the deal? Is it a lie that you lose weight while breastfeeding?
If you’re breastfeeding and feeling like:
- I just seem to gain weight while breastfeeding!
- I don’t lose my pregnancy weight until after I wean from breastfeeding!
- First I lost weight, and now I’m gaining it back!
- I can’t lose the last 10 pounds of my pregnancy weight!
Then this article is perfect for you.
Keep reading to find out why you might be feeling like you can’t lose weight while breastfeeding.
For your full 6 Day Breastfeeding Crash E-Mail Course and monthly newsletter sign up here:
Losing Weight While Breastfeeding – The Science
So many women see breastfeeding as a means to lose weight. While this is certainly a benefit of breastfeeding, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be back to your ideal weight.
When you breastfeed, you need more calories for your body to be able to make breast milk.
While your body burns those calories making breast milk, it’s not always an exact match calorie for calorie.
Or person to person.
While some women are able to eat triple scoop ice cream cones and have trouble keeping their weight up, others need to choose their foods much more wisely.
An Unfair Comparison
Think of it this way.
Two 150 lb women want to lose weight. They both do the same exercises and eat the exact same meals for a week. One loses 5 lbs, the other loses 2 lbs.
Are you surprised?
While the science behind calories, exercise, and weight loss remains the same – the difference is between people.
Maybe one person was more stressed, one got more sleep, or one person’s body just metabolizes differently than the other’s.
Unfortunately, sometimes science isn’t fair.
Why Am I Not Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
There’s a few key reasons you might feel like you just can’t lose weight while breastfeeding, with the expectation that you’re not eating an exorbitant amount or never exercising.
You May Not Be Eating Enough Calories
This may be a new mom’s dream come true.
While it can seem hard to believe, if you are not eating enough calories your body could be holding on to excess fat storage, and your milk supply could be suffering!
Why? Well, you’re trying to feed your baby and your body is smart.
If you’re restricting the foods you eat, your body wants to make sure that it has fat stores to prepare to breastfeed, and holds on tightly to the adipose tissue.
When your body knows that it’s getting enough calories to support breastfeeding, it’ll be more likely to let those fat stores go and therefore help you lose weight!
On fittobepregnant.com, Deanna gives some great advice about finding your “sweet spot” – the place between not eating too many calories or too few during breastfeeding.
She also offers a fabulous breastfeeding calorie calculator – I’m wishing I had found this while I was breastfeeding!
Why Am I Gaining Weight While Breastfeeding and Exercising?
Remember the fat storage, discussed in the section above?
Unfortunately, some women’s bodies have a tough time letting go of these fat stores, and are never able to find that “sweet spot”.
Instead, these women typically find themselves losing the rest of their pregnancy weight once they decide to stop breastfeeding and their body stops finding the need for the excess fat stores essential.
For more on this, check out this article on the Huffington Post.
Your hormones could be another reason that you’re not losing weight while breastfeeding.
Prolactin is a hormone that plays a huge role in breastfeeding. In fact, it’s the hormone that allows women to produce breast milk.
Prolactin also has an effect on your metabolism, which in turn can affect postpartum weight loss.
As a new mom, odds are you’re a little bit more stressed and more tired than you were before.
Both of these situations can make losing weight more difficult.
Yes, breastfeeding burns calories – but not getting any exercise in could be part of the reason you can’t lose weight even though you’re breastfeeding.
Having a newborn is hard. Chances are good you’re extra tired and way more busy than you were pre-baby.
It’s more difficult to find time and energy to exercise, and let’s face it – cuddling your newborn sounds SO MUCH BETTER.
In addition, if you’re breastfeeding on demand (which is what’s typically recommended), feeding your baby can take up a lot of time. All those cluster feeding sessions, or trying to build a freezer stash – all that time adds up and it can be hard to find time to get a workout in.
Keep reading to find out tips to sneak in a great workout even when you don’t feel like it.
Related: MBF Workout Review (From a non-beachbody coach!)
Related: Real LIIFT4 Review for Busy Moms (I promise, I’m not a Beachbody Coach)
How to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
So now that you know why you may be struggling to lose weight while breastfeeding, what can you do about it?
It can be incredibly difficult to find a balance between taking care of your newborn and an exercise schedule.
However, getting some type of exercise in your day will not only help you lose weight but will help your mental health as well.
Think about how much better you feel after the workout is over. The biggest hurdle for most moms is just finding the time and getting started.
Here’s a few great ideas to exercise when you have a new baby:
- Take your baby for a walk
- Get a workout buddy (whether it’s your husband or a friend, this will help keep you accountable)
- Join the YMCA or other fitness club (check if it has a free child watch option – some gyms offer this and it’s so awesome!)
- Try a HIIT class – these help you burn calories quickly (so your workout can be shorter)
- Try an at home workout during naps or before your baby wakes up/after she goes to sleep (these are some of my favorite and very effective)
Whether it’s taking your baby for a walk or trying these free-at-home workouts, try to find something you enjoy and stick with it.
If you’re looking for faster results in a short amount of time, HIIT workouts are my favorite and perfect for busy moms – learn all about them in this post.
Even though you may need to be increasing your calorie intake, it’s important to try to make healthy choices.
While I’m a firm believer in “everything in moderation” – here’s a great list of healthy breastfeeding snacks for busy moms.
In addition to eating healthy, be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
I love having one of these large reusable water bottles with me all day! They stay cold and are easy to carry with me throughout my busy day.
36 Hours Cold – Large Insulated Mug for Cold and Hot Drinks, Dishwasher Safe. Great water bottle for staying hydrated all day!
Join The Postpartum Cure
Sometimes you just need a little more accountability and guidance.
One of my all-time favorite resources for this is The Postpartum Cure!
Not only does the instructor, Katie, know from firsthand experience how to lose weight while breastfeeding, but she provides a Facebook group with a great support system.
The program walks you through eating right, healing your body, and gives you a workout plan to get you feeling back like yourself in no time!
Will I Lose Weight After I STOP Breastfeeding?
Knowing if you’ll lose weight after you stop breastfeeding is like trying to predict the future.
For some women, like me, as soon as I stopped breastfeeding I quickly lost the extra weight that my body was holding on to.
Some people, however, may find that they just need to adjust their exercise routine or eating habits. Finding something you love to do can help you stick with a workout schedule.
Other women will find that they’re less hungry when they’re not breastfeeding and will naturally start to lose weight due to a decrease in calorie intake.
Be Patient With Yourself
This may be the hardest advice to follow – but be kind to yourself and be patient.
Many people will say, “it took 9 months to put the weight on, give yourself at least 9 months to take it off”. Weight loss does not need to be an overnight thing.
Gradual weight loss and healthy habits are going to give you a huge benefit in the long run.
So take a little time to snuggle up with your baby, and just let it be.
For your full 6 Day Breastfeeding Crash E-Mail Course and monthly newsletter sign up here:
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