The Do’s and DO NOT’S to weight loss while boobin’ your baby!
Having had three babies, my body has gone through many changes. Seriously, my ass was the size of a small mountain when I was pregnant with my first. I had so much extra fluid I could have survived on my fluid retention alone if I had be stranded on a deserted island. I lost 15 pounds in the three days after I had him!! It was crazy. However, along with fluid retention and butt growth I did get back to my pre-pregnancy weight quite quickly. I was only 22 and had the metabolism of a hyper chipmunk. Now fast forward to my current age (34) and a few more pregnancies later…let’s just say my metabolism is not like a hyper chipmunk anymore. More like a sleeping sloth. I’m OK with that BUT I’m not OK with feeling extra kilos (pounds) and feeling unhealthy (FAT).
This post is not about how to be a skinny Minnie and look emaciated. I am not obsessed with skinniness. Some people fully embrace being plus sized and that’s cool! For many others though, we feel a sense of nostalgia and desire to “get back” into our bikinis. Or at least shrink our ass size a bit. Add the breastfeeding factor into all of this and we have another thing to think about!!
There are some basic do’s and don’ts to losing weight safely while breastfeeding. I am not a nutritionist. I am a mother, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and a woman who has managed to shrink her butt cheeks after giving birth to each of her children. While breastfeeding! I have also done extensive research into REAL foods. No fad diets, just getting back to basic healthy eating and moving my body! The basic rules? Don’t diet, eat real foods and move your body!!!!
The DO’S of weight loss while breastfeeding:
Give yourself time to heal from your birth before exercising. In other words, take the pressure off yourself and read National Geographic instead of the celebrity magazines with skinny airbrushed mothers on the cover. You will most likely not bounce back into bikini land anytime soon.Not only are you healing from your birth but you are breastfeeding (which actually takes a lot out of us, including calories!) Do not do what I did a couple of months after giving birth to my third child. I was feeling great! Energetic (that particular day) and probably got an entire 2 hour block of sleep the night before so was feeling like a new person. I did a Cross Fit routine with my husband (don’t know cross fit? HEAD HERE and check it out). I did some sort of crazy weight lifting manoeuvre and gave myself a hernia in my stomach somewhere. I am still dealing with this today! Not a good idea. Instead of doing weights I should have been going for a gentle walk and doing the plank or some other yoga move which worked on my core without ripping out my stomach muscles!
Allow yourself to carry some extra weight for at least the six few months to one (to two) years while breastfeeding. I know, I know, this is not exactly what you want to hear but the reality is that breastfeeding takes a lot of energy on our part. We are feeding human beings here people! We are their sole source of nutrition! Let your body be mushy for awhile before you really start to focus on shrinking those butt cheeks. Many of us do lose weight while breastfeeding but tend to hold on to a bit extra for awhile. This is OK and it’s actually important and normal. We are feeding tiny humans.
Move your body every day, even if it’s just a five minute walk outside or a short stretch on the floor. You have a baby, you are breastfeeding and you are tired. You do not have to run 5K every day to lose weight, you just have to MOVE every day. Do something even if it’s a little something. Then when you are feeling more energetic and got more than just 1 ½ hour blocks of sleep the night before, you can do something more substantial. Also, start small. I used to run 3 KS and now I’m up to 5! Last week I ran 6 and felt like I was going to die. Give yourself time to build up to it. You’re feeding a baby and hardly sleeping. You have also probably not showered in a while and have chunks of food in your hair, so give yourself a break. Listen to your body to know when you have had enough. You can push yourself (don’t be afraid that your supply will run low if you exercise. You’d have to run a marathon, be dehydrated and extremely malnourished to actually have it affect your supply). Research shows that exercising does not decrease supply. CLICK HERE for more info on this.
Drink to thirst and eat real foods (without obsessing over it). One of the most important steps to losing weight while breastfeeding is to eat REAL FOOD. No, not that packet of low fat, chemical filled, sugar laden bag of “food” but a handful of nuts, an avocado on crackers or some sugar free FULL FAT yoghurt with some raw honey and nuts/fruit. Star thinking about how you can snack quickly (with a baby on your boob) but have it be REAL FOODS. Drink water throughout the day but do not feel as though you have to drink so much you are peeing every ten minutes. Research shows that drinking water DOES NOT increase your milk supply1. Ask someone with low supply to just “drink more water” and she might do a karate chop on you. There is no black and white rule as to how much water a breastfeeding mother should drink. It depends on what climate you live in and your activity levels. Have a water bottle with you and drink some water before you eat. Often times we are actually just dehydrated rather than truly “hungry”.
MAKE THINGS YOURSELF INSTEAD OF EATING OUT OF PACKETS. It takes extra time but is SOOOO worth it and you are much more likely to lose weight when eating REAL foods than eating things from packets.
Let yourself eat chocolate, sugar and “bad stuff” here or there. And sometimes more often than “here or there”. If you say, “I WILL NEVER EAT A CHOCOLATE CAKE AGAIN!” You will definitely eat a piece of chocolate cake. Then you will eat potato chips. Then you will eat a cookie. Or ten. Then you will feel guilty about it, say you have “fallen off the wagon” and throw your entire plan out the window!! You cannot cut everything out completely or you will go insane! Especially when breastfeeding! This is why diets are proven to NOT WORK. Humans are not good at cutting out chocolate cake. Just last night I was dressed in my exercise gear ready to go for my run when I spied the bottle of wine and loaf of Italian bread on the bench my husband had bought. I drank a glass of wine and ate some bread and butter while wearing my said exercise clothes…instead of exercising. Maybe I’m not the best person to be writing this article after all? 🙂
Focus on eating MORE protein and a little LESS of the CARBOHYDRATES. I am NOT IN ANY WAY saying to cut out carbs. We need carbs! Just always try to add a fat and/or protein to every snack and meal as protein helps fill us up and helps keep our blood sugar from spiking. If you eat a bagel have some butter on it, or if you eat some toast have some avocado on it. And don’t eat white bread! Eat SPROUTED breads which are made from sprouted whole wheat flour or a REAL slow fermented sourdough bread. In the USA I could find sprouted breads in my local supermarket. Here in Australia I get it from the natural food store near me. I have also found slow fermented sourdough breads at the markets. These are easier on the digestive system and much healthier for us than the modern yeast breads.
Find some friends who are happy to meet up a few times per week to exercise. This does not have to be an hour long Zumba class! Just DO SOMETHING. If it’s snowing out bundle up your kids and go for a walk in the woods. I used to do this when I lived in snowy NH, USA. If it’s crazy hot then meet up early at the beach or do something late afternoon when kids are cranky and getting out of the house entertains them. We will ALWAYS find an excuse to not get out and do something. It’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too sunny, I’m too tired, I’m too sick, I’m too this or that or the other thing. JUST. DO. IT. Like Nike says. Get over yourself and your little excuses. Except maybe wine…and Italian bread with butter that are calling your name from the counter. Look away! Just look away!
The DO NOT’S of weight loss while breastfeeding:
Don’t count calories and fat grams. As breastfeeding mothers most of us find that we are STARVING most of the time. Some of us start to really obsess about calories or want to limit their caloric intake. It’s not necessarily a great way to actually lead a healthy lifestyle long term though. Let’s take an example from two of my favourite foods. Reese’s peanut butter cups (just writing that out makes my mouth salivate) and my favourite healthy food, avocados. Reese’s peanut butter cups have 13 grams of fat in them and 210 calories. An average sized avodaco has 21 GRAMS OF FAT and 240 CALORIES! However, which food is the better choice? Avocado of course! What is more important than counting calories or fat grams? Actually eating real, whole foods! Again, remember we are also STARVING, LACTATING WOMEN. We need fat and we need calories. Just pick the REAL food options. Fat does not make you fat. Just look at people who do the carbohydrate free diets. They lose a TON of weight while eating huge amounts of fat. Am I saying to do this diet? NO!!!! We need carbohydrates whether or not we are lactating but the point is that it is not fat in of itself that makes us fat. Fat is not evil unless it comes from sources that are not REAL, WHOLE FOODS, or of course if we eat TOO MUCH of it. Everything in moderation, even healthy fats! Are you sick of reading “eat real, whole foods” yet?! 🙂
DO NOT. I repeated DO NOT hire your husband as a personal trainer. My husband has a degree in human movement science and while he is a high school teacher, he is also a personal trainer. When he tells me to do twenty push ups, I want to punch him in the face. This is not good for a marriage.
Don’t lost weight too quickly or detox. Losing weight too quickly can release toxins in to your breastmilk, just as a full on detox routine will do. You do not want these toxins being released into your milk which will then flow straight to your baby. Remember as mentioned before you are also making milk! The last thing you want to be doing is detoxing.
Do not buy a low fat/high sugar/high carb snack instead of eating real food. Don’t get sucked into the “low fat/low calorie” hooha! Focus on REAL FOOD. One of the most important parts to changing my diet has been finding the healthy, real food alternatives to what I grew up on. I was a child of the 80’s so I grew up on packaged foods, skim milk and margarine. Here are some examples of what I have changed. This is not a “sample diet”. We are not dieting remember!! We do not follow the same boring meal plan week after week. We still live like normal people. But we are in fact changing the way we eat…forever.
Instead of margarine eat REAL butter from grass fed cows. You can also use extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil, or olive oil. Avocado and nut oils are also great alternatives to margarine and vegetable oils. Vegetable oils (including canola) are not real foods, are highly processed and definitely not healthy for us.
Instead of pasta eat rice or quinoa (lower glycemic index so does not shoot our blood sugar up like pasta). I’m a HUGE pasta lover though so I of course still do eat this occasionally.
Instead of a bag of corn chips pop your own popcorn.
Instead of ice cream eat unsweetened yoghurt with a little bit of raw honey or maple syrup.
Instead of ramen noodles make your own from homemade stock and natural noodles. Add an egg and soy sauce at the end to make egg drop soup.
Make a huge salad at the beginning of the week so you can grab it easily for lunches.
Make a huge batch of sushi to snack on. Kids usually love sushi too!
The main point of my ramblings are that we need to eat (usually a lot since we are extra hungry), we need to stay away from dieting as it DOESN’T WORK long term, focus on eating real foods and we need to MOVE OUR BODIES EVERY DAY! Preferably without a personal trainer husband telling us to do 20 push ups. 🙂
Now get moving and go eat a sweet potato! Or take a nap if you are sleep deprived from frequent night boobing…both are important to do while you are a breastfeeding mother.
1.Illingworth RS, Kilpatrick B. Lactation and fluid intake. Lancet. 1953;2:1175. Lawrence (2005 ed, p. 326) summarized this study of 210 postpartum moms, in which half drank to thirst (averaging 69 oz daily) and the other half were forced to take 6 pints (averaging 107 oz) daily. Per Lawrence, “The mothers who were forced to drink beyond thirst produced less milk, and their babies gained less well.”