Expert Q&A: Losing the Baby Weight
An interview with Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.
What is the best diet plan for losing the baby weight if you are breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding moms should not go on weight loss diets because they need plenty of calories to lactate and provide the sole source of nutrition to their infants. Even if the weight doesn’t come off as fast as if you were not breastfeeding, take comfort in knowing you are doing the best thing for the baby. Breast milk is designed by Mother Nature to give your baby everything he/she needs for growth and development for the first several months.
Good nutrition is imperative. Your diet affects the quality of the breast milk, whereas the quantity is based on how much you nurse.
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.