Is it okay for me to diet while breastfeeding?
It is understandable that you would want to lose all the weight that you’ve put on while pregnant as soon as possible, and regain your pre-pregnancy body. However, it is not wise to obsess about losing weight right after giving birth. Rather, the best thing to do would be to eat well, and focus on maintaining healthy for both your sake and your baby’s.
Feeding the baby is the priority
Just as pregnant mothers should try to have a balanced diet, so should breastfeeding mothers. If you are breastfeeding, you should eat well. This means you should eat in moderation from all of the food groups. Keep in mind that a small amount of what you eat passes on to your baby through your breast milk, so not only are you eating well for your own health, you are also aiming to eat well for your baby’s health.
When you are breastfeeding, you will probably feel hungrier than usual, because producing milk takes up a lot of energy. There is no hard and fast rule about how many more calories you should consume, although it is thought that on average, women who are breastfeeding require an extra 500 calories per day.
How much you should eat really depends on your weight and how active you are. If you feel hungry, do not starve yourself. If you don’t feel hungry, there is no need to overeat as well. Just as you did during your pregnancy, listen to your body and react accordingly. That said, breastfeeding usually does give you quite a bit of an appetite, so if you don’t feel hungry for a long time, there is a slight chance that you are suffering from postnatal depression. If this is the case, you may like to talk to your doctor so you can get the help you need.
Breastfeeding speeds up weight loss
One of the bonuses of breastfeeding for the mothers is that it really does use up a lot of energy. This means that breastfeeding can help to speed up weight loss! Some of you may experience rapid weight loss, while some of you will not. It all depends on your unique body type and metabolism, what you eat, and how much you do every day.
Do not be too distressed about losing your weight in the quickest time possible. If you try to diet in the first few months after giving birth, chances are that your energy will be sapped more than it would already be from being a new mother. Furthermore, not eating enough may also reduce your milk supply and this would unnecessarily deprive your baby from nutrition he or she needs.
The best course of action is to lose your pregnancy weight slowly but surely. Gain your footing in your new role as a mother to a newborn baby first, and as time goes by, you can slowly feel comfortable eating well and working exercise back into your life. A safe weight loss programme with eating a balanced diet and exercising in moderation would mean about a 0.45kg weight loss per week for mothers who have just given birth.
The important thing to keep in mind is that your baby’s health as well as yours should come first, and with breastfeeding and moving around more with taking care of a new baby, your weight is likely to come off without you having to put in much more extra effort.