Losing Pregnancy Pounds
Those of us breastfeeding moms have heard the mantra: "breastfeeding will get you back to your pre-pregnancy weight much faster! You will burn more calories and lose the weight!" And some of us would like to slug the people who say that in six weeks we will be back to our pre-pregnancy weight. Now, we're not dissing breastfeeding in any way. It is a very special time for those of us women that need to slow down and can appreciate its benefits. Breastfeeding forces us to pause, relax, and enjoy that little sweetheart. In addition, breastfeeding is nutritious and immune boosting for our sweet little infant. But that doesn't always change the fact that the pregnancy weight is still staying on, even when we were told it would melt off with breastfeeding. So what in the world are we to do when we still don't fit into our pre-pregnancy clothes?
Breastfeeding and Losing Weight
It is true that many women lose weight while breastfeeding, for as the La Leche League states, breastfeeding women burn an extra 500-600 calories per day. But as wonderful as that is to take in, many of us find ourselves not losing any weight, but even gaining weight as we breast feed. Why is this? What gives? Here are some facts based on research on breastfeeding and weight loss.
According to the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, during a study, 22% of women experienced lack of weight loss during breast feeding. In fact, the same 22 percent actually gained weight! The researchers of this study surmised that not all women that breastfeed lose weight (of course). There have been other studies that have shown similar results but with more revealing factors as the cause. Author Eileen Behran, RD, did a study of nearly 1500 women, which concluded that breastfeeding and weight loss depended on varying factors, including mother's age, and how much weight gained during pregnancy. Women that gained more than the recommended amount of weight had a hard time losing the excess, and older mothers struggled as well.
Tips for Losing Baby Weight
- First of all, if you are doing everything right, in other words, exercising 3-5 times a week and watching your calories, then your body may not be ready to lose the weight while you are nursing. It is just common sense that while you are nursing you may be more hungry because your body is wanting the calories to produce breast milk. Consequently, when your child weans, you may find that your hunger levels off, thereby allowing you to drop pounds.
- In the meantime, remember that your breastfeeding time is temporary. How long you breastfeed is up to you, only you. No one should judge and you are the one that decides how long you want to breastfeed. Believe it or not, us older moms will tell you that we miss those close times where we were able to relax and felt like we were providing our babies with food that only we could produce. Everyone knows, no matter what the experts say, that it takes time to lose baby weight. And there is something to be said about moms that have babies; no matter how their sleep deprived bodies feel, there is a beauty about them that is indescribable.
- If you are going completely crazy about the weight but still breastfeeding, consider how you are eating. Are you skipping breakfast? Are you starving yourself, only to gorge at regular meals? Both can be detrimental to weight loss. Consider eating 4-5 meals a day on a small plate, picking complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) instead of fatty or fast food. Not only will this rev up your metabolism, but it will keep blood sugar levels stable and keep your energy up.
- Step up or change out your exercise regime. Instead of working out 2-3 times per week, take it to 5-7 times. And mix it up! Keep tricking your body between cardio workouts (running, zumba) and weight training (group fitness weight lifting or circuit classes). As a general rule, alternate cardio and weight training every other day.
And enjoy that baby. This too, shall pass. Our bodies know what they are doing, even if we aren't that woman that lost the weight right away. We should add that women that choose not to breastfeed are just as good mamas. Choose what's right for you and your lifestyle and go with it!