After you have a baby, it is common to worry about losing weight and getting back to your pre-baby size. If you are breastfeeding, you have some special issues to consider as you face the challenge of postpartum weight loss. Here are some tips to help you enjoy your body while you lose your baby weight.
Go Slow and Steady: The healthiest way to lose weight is always to go slowly. In fact, it is recommended that you only try to lose 1-2 pounds per week. This slow and steady weight loss is more likely to be a long-term change. When you are breastfeeding, you have even more motivation to lose weight slowly, as calorie restriction and crash dieting can mean not enough food for your baby. Be patient with yourself throughout this transition. If you are going to work with a weight loss professional or a support group, be sure to find someone who understands the value of slow weight loss and protecting your milk supply.
Drink Water: Drinking plenty of water and keeping your body from becoming dehydrated helps you lose weight. Breast milk is 50% water, so be sure you are drinking enough. Aim for an 8 ounce glass of water after every nursing session at first. Once you adjust to your postpartum nursing body, you will adjust and realize how much water you need.
Listen To Your Hunger Signals: Your nursing body needs about 300-500 more calories a day than your body needed when you weren't breastfeeding. The actual number of calories you need depends on how much your baby is eating, how active you are, and your metabolism. While breastfeeding, it is important that your body gets enough calories, so you need to listen to your body's hunger signals to know how much to eat. This can be difficult for women who are accustomed to dieting by limiting calories and ignoring hunger signals. If you can learn to listen to your hunger signals, you will lose weight at the rate that is best for your body and will have a new skill that will help you throughout your life.
Focus on Nutrition: Your body is working hard to keep another human alive. Rather than thinking just about calories, focus on the nutrients in the foods that you eat. Treat your body to foods that are nutrient-rich such as whole grains, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Exercise: As soon as your doctor tells you it is safe to begin exercising, get out and move your body. This will help you lose weight and boost your mood. Even vigorous exercise is beneficial to your health and will not negatively effect your milk supply. Consider joining a gym or exercise group to keep you motivated and accountable.
Go Easy On Yourself: Every woman is different, and while some women find that they lose weight easily while nursing, others find that they can't return to their pre-baby weight until their little one is weaned. Whatever your situation, focus on loving your body and appreciating what it can do. After carrying a baby, delivering a baby, and keeping that baby alive through breastfeeding, your body deserves to be appreciated! Focusing on what you love about your body and being patient while it changes shape will help you from becoming discouraged.