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Breastfeeding and Weight Loss

A breastfeeding woman can achieve a weight loss up to 600 calories per day, without any workout or special diet. After delivery, the first thought on a new mother’s mind is nursing the baby efficiently, while second is to get back in shape. Most expectant mothers tend to gain 35 pounds, and lose 12 – 14 pounds after childbirth. After delivery, they wish to shed those extra 20 pounds as soon as possible. However, in the quest of losing weight after pregnancy, many women end up following unhealthy diet plans and vigorous exercise regimes, resulting in releasing higher level of toxins in the breast milk. Nursing mothers must note that feeding the baby is a slow but healthy way to lose weight.

Link between Breastfeeding and Weight Reduction

Irrespective of whether a woman undergoes a natural or a cesarean delivery, it is important that she leads a healthy life post delivery. Surprisingly, feeding the little one is a natural way to shed the extra pounds or to get back in shape, without exercising or following any particular diet plan. When a woman is pregnant, her body naturally layers on the extra fatty tissues which after delivery support, feeding the baby. Apart from the baby’s weight, most of the weight gained by the mother is due to the placenta and blood, which is meant to nourish the baby, and can be lost through nursing. Research shows that during nursing, the woman needs an additional 500 nutrient-dense calories per day, and mothers who nurse their babies have substantially larger reductions in their hip areas, and are slightly above their pre-pregnancy weights at one month postnatal.

Diet
Producing milk and feeding the baby itself burns a good amount of calories. The quality of a lactating mother’s diet directly affects the quality of her breast milk, thus it is important for a mother to consume foods high in calories. She needs to consume at least 1800 calories per day to maintain the quality of the milk. Having a diet containing three balanced meals and two small snacks with lots of fluids, is recommended for all lactating mothers.

Cereals, low fat dairy products, lean meats like fish and chicken, vegetables, and fruits are main foods to eat during nursing. However, for better assistance, one can discuss the eating habits and choice of foods with a doctor. Hence, after childbirth, if the mother follows a varied and well-balanced diet, nursing can help her lose pregnancy weight, without compromising on her, as well as her baby’s health.

Pills
There are many over-the-counter pills or supplements available that claim to make a person lose weight faster. Taking these pills is not recommended as they could prove hazardous to the baby in the long run.

For example, phenylpropanolamine (an ingredient in Dexatrim and Accutrim) is a commonly used appetite suppressant, that has been taken off the market due to its increased risk of causing stroke. Even supplements containing ephedrine (a substance that increases metabolic rate and facilitates weight reduction) have been banned due to the risk of hypertension, palpitations, heart arrhythmias, and seizures. Hence, it is not recommended for lactating mothers to have these pills, as they are not safe for the baby.

Exercising
Short distance gentle walks in the first week are good for new mothers. After six weeks, she can perform certain exercises. However, it’s best to consult a gynecologist to be sure that exercising wouldn’t result in unnecessary complications like postpartum bleeding or other health problems.

On a concluding note, new mothers should not get obsessed about their weight. Lugging around a baby all day is itself a workout. Moreover, they can lose some of the pregnancy fat as they feed their little one.

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