Converting the nutrients you eat into milk for your baby commands 750 calories a day. Extra fat stores are naturally deposited during pregnancy to help in this process. Because of these fat reserves, breastfeeding moms only have to eat 300-500 additional calories above their pre-pregnancy needs each day. When you are eating this recommended amount of additional calories and exclusively breastfeeding, your body will get the additional calories/energy it needs from the fat reserves. Therefore, you should experience a slow and steady weight loss toward your pre-pregnancy weight.
To adjust your Babyfit program for breastfeeding, use the Post-Pregnancy Nutrition Transition article from the Post Pregnancy and Parenting section of the Resource Center.
The problems losing weight while breastfeeding arise when you do not eat enough calories to meet your breastfeeding needs. Most ladies think that by cutting calories from what they were eating during pregnancy that they will lose weight. Unfortunately that is not the case and then they become frustrated. Cutting calories/need consuming enough calories can also result in a lowered milk supply as well.
The human body is designed to protect itself from starvation during times of greatly reduced food availability. When you eat too little (especially during times that your body is under great demand, such as breastfeeding), your body literally thinks itís starving. To compensate, your metabolism slows down considerably, preventing you from losing weight. In this state, your body will preferentially burn everything (including muscle tissue) but your stored body fat, as it continues to work to convert nutrients into milk to meet the demands of your baby.
Weight loss happens when your body can count on getting the calorie/energy it needs through food so it can release fat reserves. As your metabolism increases your body becomes more and more efficient at mobilizing and burning fat reserves.
You will want to eat every 3-4 hours since you are feeding your baby and producing milk every few hours. A great rule of thumb is to eat 300 calories and drink 8 ounces of fluids after every feeding. If this is easier then using the Babyfit food tracker (especially in the first few weeks) to help ensure you are meeting your estimated needs - great. Just so long as you are eating a balance of carbohydrates (fruits/veggies/whole grains) and proteins (beans/nuts/seeds/lean meats/low fat dairy) at each meal or snack.
You will want to get back to activity/exercise as soon as your Dr. allows. Use the Post-Pregnancy Fitness Overview article for basic information. If you are very active (say running several miles or other cardio exercise for longer then 30 minutes) with your exercise then you will also want to compensate with your calorie intake. Another rule of thumb for this area is to eat an additional 100 calories for every mile run or 15 minutes of cardio exercise.
It will be important that you eat when you are hungry. With milk production, when you don't feed/pump it signals to your body to hault the production because no more milk is needed at this time. The same sort of thing happens with metabolism. When you are hungry and your body is indicating it needs food/energy and none is received your metabolic rates slows down to concerve in order to ensure that your body can still function until more food/energy is received. The more times you hold off on eating the more you are slowing your metabolic rate and your bodies use of fat reserves.
I know this info seems backwards from all the "dieting" information you have heard in your life. This actually is how your body works best and your metabolism functions most efficiently. All those "diets" that have taught us to restrict our caloric intake have done nothing more then cause our bodies to store rather then burn fat reserves. This is a healthy approach to weight management whether or not you are nursing the only difference is the estimated calorie needs you follow as your guide.
Take Care, Samantha
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4/18/07 1:57 P
How many calories do u need to be taking in while breastfeeding and to help u lose weight? I have a horrible time after having my babies losing the weight..i want to lose 30-40 lbs all left overs.. thats including whats left from my 2 wk old.. I know i shouldnt be obsessing but im really sick of being fat. PLEASE HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT!!!!!! EVERYTHING i do doesnt work or never worked before.
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