Why Can’t I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding? (5 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight While Breastfeeding)

You are not losing weight while breastfeeding because your body is biologically programmed to retain fat for the purpose. According to experts at WebMD, the body protects stored fat as a contingency in case mommy falls ill or is starved. Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day, but it does not mean to consider it a postpartum weight loss program. The burnout may result in you eating more, and your inactivity after pregnancy can add to the toll. 

But don’t worry; you are doing well with the best you can offer your baby.

As long as your weight is within your health parameter, trust your body and do not compromise breastfeeding.

You will gradually shed all those pregnancy weights without going too hard on yourself. 

How can breastfeeding help moms lose weight?

Breastfeeding weight gain is normal, even if many believe breastfeeding is a way to shed some pounds.

A mom is breastfeeding her newborn baby, which burns a lot of calories for mom.

Exclusive breastfeeding is burning calories likened to a 45-minute running or medium exercise. It may also roughly equate to cutting on a large snack and high-caloric meal.

🤱🏽 In the first six months of breastfeeding, you may use up to 200 to 500 calories daily. From six months to a year, you will need about 400 cal/day to produce breastmilk. 

During breastfeeding, moms are also inclined to take highly-nutritious food and cut on processed ones. A healthy diet is a road to proper management of postpartum weight. 

Additionally, the first few weeks can be physically and emotionally challenging for new moms.

Their maternal duties and lack of physical activity tend to increase, reducing the chances of them losing their pregnancy weight. 

Why can’t you lose weight while breastfeeding?

Many mothers look up to those celebrity moms who seem to carry their bumps, deliver them, and walk out as if nothing happened. 

Why can’t you? You probably ask while you tether your young one to nurse. 

We cannot judge celebrity moms, but it is probably because they do not need to go through the whole ordeal after birth. They can afford to hire helpers with the baby and personal trainers to safely get back in shape. 

Good nutrition is necessary for breastfeeding to provide your body with enough calories and the proper nutrients. If you don’t pay close attention to your diet and lifestyle, you will likely gain weight. 

Here are some specific reasons why you seem not to shed weight.

1. Eating too much

Breastfeeding makes moms super hungry, and almost all the time. And that is pretty normal with the calories you burn and the exigency of motherhood as a whole. 

For the first three months after birth, you will also work to establish your breastmilk production. Thus, it is not recommended for breastfeeding moms to cut on calories. 

The problem with most women is not always how much they eat but what they eat.

Foods may have the same calorie content, but they do not have the same quality. The body will also utilize them differently, such that a 200-calorie muffin does not equal a 200-calorie vegetable. 

2. Eating too little

It sounds contradicting, but yes, eating less will not help you shed those weight either. 

Restricting your diet will only make matters worse. Your body will want to make sure that it can churn up breastmilk production.

Limiting your calorie intake will signal the body to preserve its energy. 

Your metabolism will slow down and store fats to protect the future milk supply. It will also lower your body temperature and make you sleepier and more tired. Thus, you will hang on to the body weight instead of losing it. 

3. Less physical activity

Caring for your baby while moving along with household chores is tiring in itself. But being busy does not count as being active. 

Reduced physical activity and sedentary behavior affect your health and burn lesser calories. The amount that breastfeeding can burn is not a firm excuse to stop doing exercises. 

Medium physical activity will not only get you in shape but can also prevent you from stress, burnout, and depression by helping improve your mood. 

4. Stressed out

Stress is inevitable, pregnant or not, breastfeeding or not. It is also one of the culprits of weight gain from people from all walks of life.

When you are stressed, the body releases cortisol.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the body to regulate its response to stress. It will temporarily pause your body activity and slow down your metabolism. 

Elevated cortisol level increases appetite and decreases energy so that the body slows down burning calories.

It will spike the cravings for sweet, fatty, and salty foods and throw your healthy and balanced diet out. 

5. Breastfeeding hormones

A mom is breastfeeding her newborn baby

Prolactin is one of the active hormones affected by pregnancy. It is responsible for making the breast grow and stimulates breast milk production.

Its elevated level while breastfeeding also stimulates the mother’s appetite.

Tips on how to lose weight safely while breastfeeding

A healthy diet is key to reducing weight and preventing more weight gain.

Keep these simple tips to lose weight safely while breastfeeding your little one:

  1. Eat low-carb, high-calorie foods (beef, salmon, egg, leafy greens, etc.)
  2. Exercise safely
  3. Eat small meals frequently
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Get some rest and relaxation
  6. Sleep adequately

FAQs

How long before I lose my pregnancy weight?

With proper diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle, you will gradually shed off the baby weight after a year. Most women lose weight after they completely stop breastfeeding.

Will pumping help me lose weight?

Yes. Pumping and breastfeeding have no differences when it comes to losing postpartum weight.

Can I go on a diet while breastfeeding?

It depends on the “diet” that you intend.

If it means eating healthy and balanced food, you are even encouraged. However, avoid taking fad diets that let you skip meals, starve yourself, or take weight-loss supplements.

Always check with your physician before engaging in those marketing ploys. 

Takeaway

Breastfeeding has metabolic effects that enable the body to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. But, its hormones are also specially tailored to put the baby and the mother’s well-being above all.

Nursing alone will not cause abrupt weight loss. It needs to be reinforced with a healthy, active lifestyle along with time and a positive outlook. 

Be proud of your body, mommies. You have been through a lot, but it did not stop you from delivering your little one.

Nursing your child is an excellent option to choose, with multiple health benefits for both of you. Weight loss would only come next but do not rush into it.

Give your body the time to heal as you enjoy the sweet intricacies of life with your little bundle.

Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She experienced handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also trained in labor rooms and pediatric wards while in nursing school - helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.

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