How to lose weight while breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and weight loss

Many women are concerned about body image and weight gain, and ask how breastfeeding will impact them.

The good news is that studies have shown that for many mothers after giving birth, and breastfeeding, there is a gradual weight loss over the first six months.

For many mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding, there is a potential loss of 1.6 pounds per month, although this can vary from person to person.

Although the research on breastfeeding and weight loss can be conflicting, a study in 1999 and another in 2008 suggest that mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months have the potential to return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster than mothers who exclusively breastfeed for just four months, or who formula feed their babies.

It’s encouraging to know that during breastfeeding, your body utilizes fat that has been laid down during pregnancy, and your body may be using 300-500 extra calories per day to make that milk alone.

Skin to skin - a baby breastfeeding

Can you imagine if you wanted to burn off that amount of calories, you would have to do quite a workout!

Knowing that just sitting and feeding your baby is burning up calories in that way is a very encouraging thing.

You may have noticed, however, that if you are breastfeeding, you naturally feel quite hungry, so it is possible to over-eat as well, so eat to hunger only.

If you do this, your body will use up those extra calories as well, and you stand a far better chance of losing weight. 

However, some breastfeeding mothers find that they overeat because they feel so hungry. In this situation, it’s possible not to lose any weight at all.

Your baby will also have various growth spurts throughout the first year where you would expect 2-4 days of constant breastfeeding. At these times, you WILL feel more hungry. So eat to hunger!

Studies have shown that the majority of women will provide an abundant supply of milk for their baby if they are taking in at least 1800 calories or more per day.

This is the normal amount. If you were to take in less than 1500 daily, there is potential for a reduction of milk supply. So eat to hunger and enjoy the benefits of losing weight naturally while you feed your baby.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022


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