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Breast-Feeding: Exercise and Weight Loss - Topic Overview

Keep the following in mind as you start an exercise program or try to lose weight while you are breast-feeding.

Exercise

Being active helps promote weight loss, improves your energy level, and can help you relieve stress. Follow these tips when you start an exercise program while you are breast-feeding:

  • Start out slowly. Walking, swimming, and cycling are all good low-impact ways to begin an exercise program. Gradually build up your time and intensity.
  • Wear a supportive bra. Not all sports bras offer enough support, so try on a bra before you buy it.
  • Eat more calories when you are more active.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you exercise.
  • To ease breast discomfort, breast-feed or pump right before you exercise.

Weight loss

You may gradually lose weight without trying while breast-feeding. The rate and ease of weight loss varies widely. You may lose about 1 lb (0.5 kg) to 2 lb (0.9 kg) a week. Some women find that it takes up to a year to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy.

If you wish to lose weight while breast-feeding, both diet and physical activity have a role. Physical activity or exercise is the safest way to lose weight during this time. Moderate calorie restriction (eating less) may be safe for some overweight women, but breast-feeding women should generally eat more calories. Extreme weight-loss diets should be avoided while breast-feeding. For more information, see the topic Nutrition While Breast-Feeding.

Talk to a nutritional counselor, registered dietitian, or your doctor about a safe and healthy diet.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: April 12, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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