Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Breastfeeding Doesn't Trim Body Fat Quickly

Quick Fat Loss Not Among Breastfeeding's Benefits
WebMD Health News

Sept. 16, 2004 -- Breastfeeding has many advantages for moms and babies. But contrary to popular belief, it doesn't appear to help new moms shed weight quicker after pregnancy.

The finding comes from researchers Karen Wosje, PhD, and Heidi Kalkwarf, PhD, RD, of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The pair studied data from a total of 326 new moms to see if breastfeeding made any difference in losing weight or body fat.

Previous studies on the topic have been contradictory, leaving breastfeeding's effects on weight and body fat unclear.

Studying New Moms

First, Wosje and Kalkwarf focused on brand-new moms during a six-month study that looked at body changes after delivery.

With new moms, body composition can change quickly after delivery. In the first six months after giving birth, the study's 81 nonbreastfeeding mothers lost fat from their whole body, arms, and legs faster than the 87 breastfeeding moms.

In addition, the lactating women gained fat in their arms.

A change in body composition was determined by imaging the whole body and determining fat and muscle mass.

However both groups lost weight at similar rates and decreases in body weight was not influenced by breastfeeding. All mothers lost some fat in their trunk (chest, stomach, and pelvic region), but it was the rate of fat loss that differed.

The breastfeeding moms may have also consumed more calories. In breastfeeding mothers the hormone prolactin stimulates appetite, as well as prompts milk production, which could account for the extra calories consumed by these women.

In addition, the nonbreastfeeding women reported more intense physical activity than the breastfeeders.

Weaning Stage

Next, the researchers examined data from women who had had babies six to 12 months earlier.

By then, any differences in body composition between lactating and nonlactating moms had disappeared.

"There was no influence of lactation ... on fat mass losses in the women in the weaning study," write the researchers.

"The rates of decrease in body weight and whole body percentage fat were not significantly influenced by lactation."

On average, all the women in the weaning study lost fat mass at all body sites. Body composition keeps changing until at least one year after giving birth, say the researchers.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow