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Expert Q&A: Losing the Baby Weight

An interview with Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.

Does breastfeeding promote weight loss?

Breastfeeding should not be used as a weight loss method because you could actually gain weight while nursing if you don’t pay close attention to your diet. It is it a myth that breastfeeding burns up lots of calories making milk. You will burn some stored body fat, but your body protects some fat for the purpose of breastfeeding.  Many women don’t lose all the baby weight until they completely stop nursing. Typically, many moms breastfeed their babies for about six months, which gives them another six months to get their bodies back in shape before the one-year mark.

Do you recommend exercising to help shed baby weight?

When it comes to exercise, think slow and gradual to work yourself back to your pre-pregnancy fitness level.  Physical activity is a huge component of safe and healthy weight loss, and most moms can go back to exercising within weeks of a normal vaginal delivery.  C-section deliveries require additional rest and wound healing before regular physical activity. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program

By six weeks, most moms are ready to walk.  Taking your baby for two 15-minute walks each day and gradually increasing your activity level is a great way to build up your stamina and burn calories.  If walking doesn’t work, use the baby’s naptime to plug in a video, or sign up for a fitness program designed for mothers and babies.

Does lack of sleep affect weight loss?

Studies show that at six months after giving birth, moms who got less than six hours of sleep per night had more difficulty losing weight than moms who slept more than six hours. There are lots of adjustments when you bring a baby home, and even more if there are other little people who need you.  Getting rest is important for you to be able to focus on eating healthy and find time to be physically active. Do everything you can to get enough sleep, and try not to be a superwoman until you’re got your energy back because weight control takes a lot of energy.

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Reviewed on October 17, 2013

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