Your Questions About Weight Loss Plan For Breastfeeding Mothers

by Maricela on March 7, 2013

James asks…

Weight loss once your baby is born (while breastfeeding) question?

Hi, so I am almost at the end of my pregnancy & looking forward to meeting my new little man. I am hoping to breastfeed (Had a lot of trouble with my daughter) but this time around I am extra prepared for what is to come.

Anyway this pregnancy I have put on A LOT of weight… 25kgs (55lbs) and it’s definitely distributed all over my body. Being someone who has been overweight most of my life I don’t want to stay this way after the pregnancy. I am happy for it to take a year or so to lose. I am in no hurry to lose it all quickly…

Now I wonder what is a good amount of calories to be healthy, produce enough milk for breastfeeding & perhaps slowly lose weight? Also what sort of exercise is recommended? I have read too little calories and too much exercise can harm your milk and make it not as nutritious as it should be so I really don’t want to do that.

When I had my daughter once she was born I breastfed for 2 months with bottle top ups (long story) and once I finished breastfeeding I started to diet & I lost 40kgs (88lbs) in the year that followed her birth. The weight I lost was mainly pre-pregnancy weight as I didn’t put much on in the pregnancy but was overweight to begin with but I wasn’t breastfeeding and I was counting calories and exercising. I had stopped breastfeeding so I know it wasn’t harming her supply to have 1300 cals with a run etc.

My priority is breastfeeding this one & I would love to for at least a year but if I do that I would like to lose weight too but would like a safe way to do so without compromising anything.

Thanks for reading & I would love opinions and thoughts..

What did you do to lose weight while breastfeeding?
How long did it take for you to lose the baby weight?

Maricela answers:

Any dieting for weight loss should wait until at least 2 months after the baby is born. After that, it’s okay to diet and exercise safely and moderately. You shouldn’t lose more than about 1-2lbs a week. Most women need *at least* 1500-1800 calories daily while breastfeeding.

Weight Watchers has plans designed specifically for breastfeeding mothers. You might check it out. I did it for a while when my youngest was a baby, and I liked it a lot. The online tools make it really easy to track your points.

This link covers a lot of good info on dieting while breastfeeding:

Mark asks…

Breastfeeding, Exercise, and Lack of Weight Loss?

I have a 12 month old son who I breastfeed and plan on breastfeeding for at least another year. I’m 5’1″ and currently weight 130.5 lbs. I held onto the weight and then when he was six months old I greatly changed my diet and eliminated processed food and am now down 35 lbs. I’m now at a healthy BMI, but it’s just shy of being overweight ( 2 lbs away). I’m in a plateau. I have not lost any weight in about 8 weeks. 6 weeks ago I went from mild to moderate exercise, 6 days a week. I walk very briskly for 3.5 miles daily, and my son enjoys a ride on my back in his carrier.

What gives? Very frustrated. My clothing does seem to fit a bit better, so there has been some body change, but the scale won’t budge and seems to go and up down a few pounds regularly. I don’t feel I’m expecting too much as I’m not rail thin and prior to pregnancy, I weighed in the 120 is range. Is my body just holding onto the extra 10 pounds as a “reserve”? I do eat a balanced diet, rich in veggies and protein and also eat the 300 additional calories recommended for BFing moms.

Your experiences and suggestions would be wonderful.
This s why I’m confused. I was also eating the additional 300 calories when I lost the 35 lbs and it just seemed to melt away. The additional 300 calories are simply in an additional cup of whole oats in the morning with a handful of nuts and raisins.

Maricela answers:

If you’re eating your ‘usual’ amount on calories, PLUS an additional 300 (as recommended for breastfeeding mothers), it’s clear why you’re holding onto those last few pounds. I would imagine once you stopped consuming that extra 300 (or dramatically increased your exercise to burn that amount off), you’ll see a difference.

Mary asks…


Hi Everyone
I am 30wks preg and I am planning on breastfeeding. I have a strange question to ask about it. I know the benefits of it, however, I have some of my friends have insisted that their breasts were never the same. For example, one of my friends says that they are now lopsided, another says one is bigger than the other, another says her nipples are all messed up, and yet another feels like they were stretched out so much that she is going to get them fixed. I am just wondering how much of this is true or are they just exaggerating. I just want to be prepared for the worst. Does breastfeeding really ruin your breasts? I’d love to hear from moms who have breastfeed. Thanks.

Maricela answers:

Hello there,
First of all I would like to congratulate you on making the wise and wonderful decision to breastfeed your baby. It shows that you have really done your homework and that you are really dedicated to giving your baby the very best! Good for you! I just want to tell you that every day they find new and wonderful things that breastmilk can do for you and for your baby. It amazes me and I have been studying breastfeeding and all that it entails for about 30 years. Did you know that just your colostrum alone protects your baby against 7 potentially fatal diseases? No kidding…..I can not imagine any loving, responsible mother who would chose not to breastfeed unless there was a clear cut medical reason why she could not.
Anyway, back to your question. I can only tell you that in my experience ( and it has been extensive) the answer is “no”, breastfeeding does not ruin your breasts. I am sure that if you were to investigate a bit more closely you would find that the women who insisted that breastfeeding had ruined their breasts had probably gained a significant amount of weight, over and above the recommended 30 lbs. It is weight gain and subsequent rapid weight loss, that takes a toll on your breasts, not breastfeeding. To be precise I guess I should say it is weight *loss* that really does it. When you lose 40 or 50 pounds, while it may have been necessary, it leaves your breasts noticably less firm and just changed from the way they were when you had the extra weight. I don’t think that there is any way around that.
I breastfed four babies until they were between 12 and 18 months old and it certainly never hurt the appearance of my breasts at all. That is of course the only “personal, up-close” knowledge that I have. Other than that I know what women have told me and what I have observed in the many women that I have helped with breastfeeding issues.
I think that the bottom line is if pregnancy, weight gain and breastfeeding are going to make changes in your breasts there is little that you can do about it. Heredity and your personal body size and shape have a lot to do with it. If you are concerned I would say that you should keep your weight gain within the normal range and not go on any crash diets to try to lose weight after you are done breastfeeding. Rapid weight loss makes a big difference.
All in all I have to say that when looking at the effects that breastfeeding may or may not have on your breasts, the bottom line is that the benefits of breastfeeding far and away are more significant than any changes to the appearance of your breasts. I am not saying that it does not matter, (“vanity they name is woman”) but it is surely not the most important thing. Lets face it, pregnancy itself makes a difference in the way your body is going to look but we do not decide not to have babies! It is part of the whole package I guess.
It is probably different for each woman but in my experience it is not breastfeeding that changes the shape and size of a woman’s breasts but rather rapid weight loss and pregnancy itself.
Have a wonderful time breastfeeding your little one. You have a wonderful adventure ahead of you. Remember to get lots of rest, eat and drink when the baby does and take good care of yourself the same way you did when you were pregnant. Feel free to write to me if you have any questions, I would be happy to help.
Take care and enjoy the wonderful time ahead of you!
Love and Blessings
Lady Trinity~

Linda asks…

? For mothers who have breastfed..?

So, I’m about 23 weeks pregnant and I’m at that stage where I’m researching just about everything on the net. One thing I plan on doing is breastfeeding (if my body allows) but I’m not all too sure what it consists of. I get the basic concept… but how often everyday do you do it? Why do you need a breast-pump? How does it help with weight loss? What does it feel like? …Anything else on the subject matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
ALSO… is that all the “food” your baby gets throughout the day (through breastmilk)? I get that babies can’t eat solids or anything but when do baby foods come in? And how many months do you breastfeed for? Is there a point where you switch to formula? Or baby food? I know i’ll figure it all out soon enough but i’m just trying to get an idea…

Maricela answers:

At first it will feel like the baby is ALWAYS eating. But don’t worry, before long they will develop their own eating schedule and won’t be attached to your chest all the time. 🙂

You need a breast pump if you want to store extra milk or let someone else feed from a bottle (but hold off on bottles for the first 6 weeks to avoid nipple confusion). Get an electric if you can afford it. But if a manual one is more in your price range the Avent Isis is a good one.

It helps with weight loss because feeding and making milk burns calories, not to mention it shrinks the size of your uterus faster making your tummy look smalled sooner.

Honestly, it can hurt at first. But if you have a good lactation consultant she will be able to help make sure baby is latched correctly and it will help a lot. After the first week or so any pain should go away. Invest in some Lansinoh Lanolin for your nipples, it will help to keep them from cracking and getting chapped.

Good luck! And remember, it’s a learning process for you and the baby, it can take a little time and effort but you can do it. 🙂

Helen asks…

hey i got a quesiton on breat feeding??

I want to Breastfeeding. I am only 32 weeks pregnant with Child #1 I am actively looking for advice about breastfeeding so that hopefully I can be successful at breastfeeding my daughter or son when she or he arrives. Some Questions I have are:

1. Do I need a breastpump?

2. What can I expect when I first begin breastfeeding?

3. What are some warning signs that I need help from a specialist?

4. How can I prepare my body for breastfeeding leading up to delivery?

5. What are some things that have helped you stay focused and continuing your breastfeeding?

6. Do you need special nursing apparel?

7. What do I need to have when I go to deliver?

8. How can I keep from getting discouraged?

Maricela answers:

You have a good list of questions and it’s good that you are thinking about this stuff and looking for information ahead of time.

1. Do I need a breastpump?
Will you be returning to work or will you be a SAHM? If you are going back to work, then you will want a good double electric pump such as the Medela Pump In Style. If you plan to stay home, you may not need a pump. If you will be a SAHM but might want to offer occasional bottles of pumped milk, I would suggest the Avent Isis manual pump.

2. What can I expect when I first begin breastfeeding?
You should NOT experience true toe curling pain. If you do, something is not right and you need the help of a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or a La Leche League Leader. It *IS* normal to have some discomfort though. Think of it this way… are using your body in a new way that it’s never experienced before. Just like the first time you go out and shovel snow in the winter. That’s difficult because your body isn’t used to it. As the winter goes on, it gets easier. Breastfeeding is the same way.

Expect to feel like you are doing nothing but nursing for about the first 6 weeks. Babies go through a lot of growth spurts very close together during that time. Sleep when the baby sleeps and follow his lead about when he is hungry, which will be about every 2 hours around the clock. After the 6 week growth spurt, things tend to get easier. Baby may begin to have predictable patterns about when he need to eat and sleep. You’ll definately see patterns by the time the 3 mos growth spurt ends.

3. What are some warning signs that I need help from a specialist?
Baby isn’t having enough wet and poopy diapers. You have pain when nursing. Doc says baby isn’t gaining enough weight. Baby doesn’t regain birthweight by 2 weeks of age. Baby loses 10% or more of weight in the first week. (Remember that some weight loss is NORMAL in the first week, but 10% is too much.) Your nipples are raw, cracked, sore or bleeding.

4. How can I prepare my body for breastfeeding leading up to delivery?
There is nothing you need to do to prepare your body. It can help to go to La Leche League and get to know other nursing mothers and meet your Leader. Then you’ll be more comfortable calling her if you need help after the baby arrives. And you’ll form a good support network too.

5. What are some things that have helped you stay focused and continuing your breastfeeding?
There’s a link I’ll put below called “what if I want to wean my baby” that really kept me going with my first baby. (All three of mine nursed well beyond a year.) Ut talks about benefits of nursing based on baby’s age. Also, going to LLL helped me.

6. Do you need special nursing apparel?
Not really. It makes some mothers more comfortable to have it though. I did have some special nursing clothes. I used them the most with my first child. Then I figured out how to layer regular clothing and realized how very little anyone can truely see. The main reason I liked them was actually because it made pumping so easy since I worked when my first was born. I did like having a nursing dress for any special occasions. And nursing bras are a must have. Get fitted for one towards the end of your pregnancy.

7. What do I need to have when I go to deliver?
Some Lansinoh cream and some breast pads.

8. How can I keep from getting discouraged?
Keep in mind that you are doing something so important and so special for your child and that EVERY DROP of breastmilk is wonderful and will benefit both of you.

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