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FAQ: How can I maintain a fitness regime and lose weight while Breastfeeding?
Post the birth of the baby, a lot of women start thinking about losing the weight gained during pregnancy. This happens, for some, due to the familial/societal pressure and/or conditioning and for some other, due to their own wishes and expectations. Losing the pregnancy weight can be a lengthy process for the simple logic that - the woman carried her baby in her womb for 9 months and she took 9 months to gain that weight. Losing it could take just as long or perhaps a little longer.
It might be a good idea to focus on being healthy and fit rather than only losing weight. Losing weight is important too, and can be a part of the process. Whenever there is a conversation about being healthy and fit, it typically involves 2 main components - one is eating healthy food and the second is doing exercise. For a mother, having birthed a baby, there is another major component which is very crucial. It is Breastfeeding. Thus, the 3 major components of women’s fitness post giving birth are as follows.
Breastfeeding can help tremendously in staying fit and losing weight. There are many ways in which breastfeeding can contribute to a new mother being healthy, fit and lose weight.
Many women have reported that they lost all of their pregnancy weight by merely breastfeeding their baby. The time taken varies through the range of 4 months to a year. However, many other women have reportedly seen no impact of breastfeeding on their weight. This is because there are a number of factors involved here including genetic predisposition, certain medical conditions, metabolism, the amount of weight gained during pregnancy and other lifestyle factors. Whether or not a mother is exclusively breastfeeding can also impact the extent to which breastfeeding can be effective in losing weight.
Healthy food has always been emphasized in order to achieve fitness. Healthy dietary practices can work wonders in one’s fitness journey. In the case of a breastfeeding mother too, food plays an important role. As mentioned before, breastfeeding leads to burning an average of 500 additional calories each day. So, this would also imply consuming additional calories to meet up the body’s demand. It is natural for a breastfeeding mother to feel way hungrier than usual. And it is important for her to eat to hunger. Experts suggest that she needs to consume a minimum of 1800 calories per day.
Crash dieting, starving, skipping meals etc are never recommended for a breastfeeding mother. The alternative is to focus on consuming nutrient-rich food. It is natural to feel very hungry while nursing the baby during nights, cluster feeding during growth spurts etc. It is important to have snacks ready at such times. The key is in replacing nutritionally low foods with nutritionally dense foods like nuts, dry fruits, fruits, vegetable sticks with hummus or curd etc. Homemade chikkis, laddoos made with nuts, ghee and jaggery etc are great options. Along with eating good food to hunger, it is also essential to pay attention to adequate hydration. Just as a breastfeeding mother feels hungrier, she also feels thirstier. Drinking to thirst is equally important.
Exercise is an integral part of anybody’s fitness journey. A lot of women wonder about if and when they can start/resume working out after giving birth while breastfeeding. Usually, once the baby is 1.5 to 2 months old, a mother can start including some exercise in her daily routine and gradually increasing it with time. However, it is important to note that - working out should be started or resumed only after getting a nod from the gynaecologist. There are different guidelines and time boundaries for women having a c-section birth as opposed to women having a vaginal birth. Certain individual conditions/complications may also affect the advice about resuming exercise.
It can be challenging to find time for exercise with a young baby. For mothers living in nuclear set-ups, it might be even more difficult to find some time to herself. So, simply starting with some stretching or going for a walk while baby-wearing can kick start the process. Zumba, aerobics are all various forms of exercise that can be done while supervising the baby.
It is important to note that fixating on only weight loss as the outcome of exercise can be stressful. The focus should be on being healthy and fit.
Safe Dieting while Breastfeeding
If a breastfeeding woman wishes to lose weight safely, she can follow certain guidelines.
Tips for losing weight while breastfeeding
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DISCLAIMER: THE FAQ ARTICLES ARE INTENDED AS A SOURCE OF BASIC INFORMATION AND AN EXTENSION OF SUPPORT FROM BREASTFEEDING PARENTS TO BREASTFEEDING PARENTS. IT DOES NOT CLAIM TO REPLACE ANY MEDICAL ADVICE.
* MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: THE ADVICE SUGGESTED BY THE LACTATION CONSULTANTS/STANPAN SAATHIS/WEBINAR HOSTS ARE THEIR OWN. TO ACCEPT AND TO ACT ON THOSE IS AT THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THE INDIVIDUAL WHO IS SEEKING SUPPORT. IN NO WAY SHOULD THE ADVICE GIVEN REPLACE A MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS OR ADVICE FROM A QUALIFIED PROFESSIONAL. IF THAT HAPPENS, IT'S AT THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THE INDIVIDUAL WHO CHOOSES TO DO THAT. BSIM WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY CONSEQUENCES.
WE UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT PARENTS AND BABIES CAN BE OF VARIOUS GENDERS ON A SPECTRUM OF THE LGBTIQA+. FAMILIES COME IN DIVERSE FLAVOURS. HOWEVER, IN OUR ARTICLES, FOR THE SAKE OF SIMPLICITY AND CONVENIENCE, WE WILL BE REFERRING TO THE BREASTFEEDING PARENT AS THE MOTHER AND USING THE FEMALE PRONOUNS- 'SHE' AND 'HER' FOR BABIES. BABIES CAN BE NOURISHED AND NURTURED IN DIFFERENT WAYS AND WHILE WE HAVE USED THE TERMS BREASTFEEDING AND NURSING, WE RECOGNIZE THAT PARENTS CAN OPT TO CHEST FEED OR FINGER FEED.
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