Chances are, if you are reading this, you have already chosen to breastfeed and it’s working out for you and your baby. Congratulations! That’s great. As you enjoy this special time with your baby, you may start to wonder about breastfeeding and weight loss.

Here are the facts:

Immediately postpartum, the hormones associated with breastfeeding cause your uterus to contract more intensely and more often in the early days postpartum. This assists in ‘uterus involution’ or shrinking of the uterus. For most breastfeeding women, the uterus is back to its original size by 2-4 weeks.

Breastfeeding increases your metabolism, but you are meant to meet those demands by increasing your daily caloric intake by 400-500 kcal. This is integral for your energy, your milk supply and therefore baby’s development. Weight loss should never interfere with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding women can safely lose ½ to 1 lb per week. Case in point: If you gained 35 lbs during pregnancy and lost 20 of it during and in the first few weeks after giving birth, you have 15 lbs to lose. This weight will take 15-30 weeks to lose safely through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Add in 4 extra weeks for the unexpected and that means a realistic weight loss goal for a breastfeeding mom who gained an average amount of weight is 5-9 months. Note: Every woman and every pregnancy is unique, but the guidelines above are helpful for setting safe & realistic goals.

Sometimes, when a woman stops breastfeeding, she continues to eat the extra 400-500 kcals/day out of habit. This can result in weight gain. Many women associate the weight gain with no longer breastfeeding, when really it’s the continued increase in caloric intake.

What you can do:

•Eat mindfully
•Eat a well balanced-diet using the Canada Food Guide
•Drink plenty of water
•Exercise regularly
•Exercise with other moms – you are more likely to stick to it
•Strength train – you will see better results than from cardio alone

Try to remember that there is no rush. Take your time to ease back into fitness while enjoying your new role as a mom.

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