Breastfeeding – the Best Diet for you and Your New Baby (part 3) - Weight loss

- Give Up Coffee For Beautiful Breasts
- Welcome to your First Trimester
- Welcome to your Second Trimester
- Welcome to your Third Trimester

It is important to take a balanced and sensible approach to losing weight after you’ve had a baby. It is not a good idea to lose 3 stone in two months, as Catherine Zeta-Jones was reported to have done. Equally, you can’t expect breastfeeding to make the pounds melt away if you eat chocolate biscuits by the packet.

Many new mums feel enormous pressure to lose weight after seeing pictures of super-slim celebrity mums. If you have a nanny, a personal trainer and your own chef, you may be able to follow in their footsteps; however, this isn’t a recipe for successful breastfeeding or bonding with and enjoying your new baby. Trying to lose weight rapidly will also leave you feeling drained of energy and could mean both you and your baby miss out on some of the essential nutrients you need. It is particularly important that you don’t go on any kind of restrictive diet, such as dairy-free or low-carb, without talking to your doctor. It is much better for you and your baby if you breastfeed, eat a healthy, balanced diet and aim to lose the extra pounds or stones slowly.

It is estimated that breastfeeding requires about 500 kcal per day. You probably need double this if you are feeding twins. During pregnancy, fat stores are laid down to supply some of that extra energy. The amount of additional calories you need while breastfeeding will depend on how much fat you have stored. If you are thin, it’s important to make sure you consume plenty of extra calories. You should make regular meals and snacks a priority, to ensure that you and your baby are getting all the calories and nutrients you need. However, if you are overweight, then it is important to concentrate on eating the nutrient-rich foods recommended , while limiting your intake of high-sugar and high-fat foods.

If you have a very low-calorie diet, your milk supply will be affected. However, if you do have extra pounds to lose, then slow weight loss won’t adversely affect your milk. Research has shown that when women lose 1–2 lb a week through healthy eating and regular exercise, the amount and quality of their breast milk is not affected, and nor is their baby’s weight gain. Eating more high-fibre and low-GI foods can help you lose baby weight at a healthy rate, without feeling so hungry .

Although breastfeeding can help you lose weight, not every woman who breastfeeds sheds the pounds effortlessly. Breastfeeding certainly uses up energy, but many breastfeeding women are hungrier and eat more than non-breastfeeding mothers. One study found that weight loss in the six months after birth was related more to a desire to lose weight than to breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. So, if you want to lose weight, don’t think that breastfeeding is the solution no matter what you eat. Research into losing weight after giving birth has found that using both diet and exercise together is more effective than either dieting or exercise alone.

Tips for successful weight loss

  • Rather than short bursts of physical activity, such as a work out once a week, aim for regular exercise such as walking every day.
  • Try to establish regular eating habits. It is all too easy to snack if you’re overtired and spending more time at home.
  • Try getting some support by joining a slimming club that is suitable for breastfeeding mums, or just meet other mums for a long walk.
  • Do exercise that fits into your new lifestyle. It may be easier to go walking with your baby, or get an exercise DVD to do at home, rather than finding someone to look after your baby while you go to the gym or an exercise class.
  • Try not to eat on the run. It is much more satisfying to have a sit-down meal and eat slowly; you will then be less likely to overeat.
  • If you are having trouble shifting the pounds, make a note of everything you eat for a few days. This may reveal that you are eating more than you thought, and it will show you where you can make some changes.
 
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