30 answers

Fat and Breastfeeding

I am curious. I have a 6 month old that I have breastfeeding exclusively until I started adding solids recently. I still nurse her 6 times a day and will continue as long as she wants to.
My supply dipped around a month ago for about a week. I had had the flu and was in bed (still nursed her as usual) but when I was better, I had lost a few pounds because of the sickness. My supply was super low all that week. I worked hard to get it up again. Nursed her like mad(because she was hungry all the time!) and it eventually came back. I drank lots of water and began eating as I had been. I eat relatively healthy, got to the gym twice a week and go walking for an hour or two with the stroller probably 3 times a week.
So I am still 15 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight.
I am wondering if my body needs this extra fat to keep my milk production up and if it is hanging on to it to keep my milk supply. Does this make sense?
In other words, these final 15 lbs aren't coming off unless I start runnning 20 miles a week or something!
Any ideas about the extra fat = good milk supply idea?
Thanks

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all so much for your advice and experiences. Yes, I will be patient and no, I am not too concerned with being skinny. I will continue to eat well like I have been and take comfort in the fact that I am feeding my daughter the best I can.
Sincerely,
E.

Featured Answers

I just want to say that you are not alone. My daughter will be six months at the end of February and I am still 15lbs heavier. Don't worry it will come off.

Hi E. -- I had the exact same experience you are describing -- I lost about 30 pounds right after my daughter was born and then my body held on to the last 10 pounds until I stopped breastfeeding after my daughter's first birthday. I also got the flu when she was about 5 months, lost some weight and then gained it all back! Frustrating! I was jogging a few times a week, but still the pounds didn't budge. I was thinking I was never going to fit into my prepregnancy pants again but about a month after I stopped breastfeeding they fit. I think it also helped that once my daughter started eating with us at the table I made a real effort to provide healthy food for her so I was eating better too. I agree with the other posters who said everybody is different -- some people seem to lose a lot of weight while breastfeeding and others seem to hold onto some fat until they stop. So I'd say don't worry about those extra pounds --they'll come off eventually!

More Answers

lots of moms hand on to the last 5-10 lbs until they wean, yes. Also, remember 9 months on, 9 months off. My youngest is 7 months now and I also nurse her and am also still up 5 lbs from my prepreg weight. As long as you are eating well and drinking plenty your milk should be fine. Add exercise in gradually and your body will adjust.

Your body knows what it needs. I'm guessing if you were slender or had a low body fat percentage prior to pregnancy, this is your body's way of making sure it has the storehouse it needs. The same thing happened to me with both pregnancies, and once I stopped breast feeding I got a lot closer to my pre-pregnancy weight (Although I still had a few extra pounds that needed extra work to get off). I have friends that were heavier before pregnancy that found breastfeeding make them skinnier than BEFORE they had the baby. Everyone's body is different, but you are certainly not alone. Don't obsess about it- that's not healthy for anyone.

IIt sounds like ur doing a great job drinking water there is a great tea called mothers milk u can find @ any jewel or health food store works great. I have been nurserying for the last 4/ 1/2 yrs my daughter was 1 1/2 when my son was born nursed throughout pregnancy and nursed my son till 2 1/2. It also healths loss weight nurseying. Keep up the good work

If you're not losing that last 15#'s it's because your body needs it to nourish the little one. Wait until you're done nursing to pick up the exercise...it sounds like you get plenty already.

As they say, 9 months on, nine months off, Cut yourself a little slack, E.. Your body just went through something that redefined everything in your life. Give it a little time to bounce back. It sounds like you're eating right and you're doing the right things for your little one, so just give yourself a chance. You'll get rid of the last 15 soon.

Hi E.,
Every Mom's breast milk production eventually drops naturally. I am a mother of 2 boys 6 and 9 and breast fed them both for close to two years. I was really lucky to lose my pregnancy weight within a few months of having them, so I don't think you need extra bodyfat to breast feed. What helped my a lot was taking 3 tablespoons of flax oil every day in a protein shake. It helps to boost your babies brain development and it will help burn your fat! Breast feeding does burn a lot of calories, another reason I did it for so long. Sure beats jogging 20 miles a day!

You can find flax oil at whole foods, trader joes or any health food store. It's usually sold in the refrigerated section (except at trader joes).

Hope it helps! I know it will if you give it a try.

B.

I have a friend who has 4 kids and every time she nurses she says she blows up. She puts on tons of weight while nursing every time. I've heard that you need a little extra weight for it. I doubt all those super skinny, flat bellied movie stars who look gorgeous 6 weeks after giving birth are breast feeding!

I have heard from more than one source (including a La Leche League Leader) that nursing mothers should not worry at all about any extra pregnancy weight they still have until their child stops nursing (which of course they feel should continue as long as possible). I myself have had to eat a lot of healthy fats (nuts, avocados, organic butter) to keep myself well supplied for my voraciously hungry 11 month-old who nurses exclusively.

If you are really concerned, you can always contact a La Leche League Leader - they are truly awesome and very resourceful.

I could not lose my last 10lbs untils I finally stopped using the breast-pump completely---your body (like mine) probably needs this extra weight--not all women keep that extra 10lbs on until they stop, but I did & then when I stopped--off it came. I read the same thing in a book, that some women need the 1015 pounds to keep up the milk production----I exclusively breastfed for 15 months & then switched my daughter to organice vitamin D milk--now she is on the 2 percent--I am pregnant again & due in April & will at least breasfeed for 12 months, so I am sure I will have those additional lbs, but it is soo worth it--you have the rest of your life to remain in shape & the same weight--the first year of life, you cant do-over, so do the best you can the first time. Whether it be breasfeeding or using formula---both have their benefits, as long as theirs tons of LOVE--thats all that matters!!!! The lbs will eventually come off, they are temporary.

Hi E.,

I have heard and read that a breastfeeding mother's body does retain some extra weight while she's breastfeeding. It's kind of an insurance policy, in case (for some reason) you aren't able to take in enough calories, so that your baby won't starve. I'm still breastfeeding my 12-month old, and I eat pretty well (although I haven't been nearly as active as I would like) and still have a bit of extra weight, too. I would imagine, though, that what you eat/drink probably has a more direct effect on your milk supply than the extra fat.

Also, for post-pregnant women, breastfeeding or not, they say it takes 9-12 mos. for you to lose all the pregnancy weight. So hang in there and keep up the good work.

Best,
R.

Hi E. -- I had the exact same experience you are describing -- I lost about 30 pounds right after my daughter was born and then my body held on to the last 10 pounds until I stopped breastfeeding after my daughter's first birthday. I also got the flu when she was about 5 months, lost some weight and then gained it all back! Frustrating! I was jogging a few times a week, but still the pounds didn't budge. I was thinking I was never going to fit into my prepregnancy pants again but about a month after I stopped breastfeeding they fit. I think it also helped that once my daughter started eating with us at the table I made a real effort to provide healthy food for her so I was eating better too. I agree with the other posters who said everybody is different -- some people seem to lose a lot of weight while breastfeeding and others seem to hold onto some fat until they stop. So I'd say don't worry about those extra pounds --they'll come off eventually!

E.-

I specialize in maternal and child health, specialize in pre and postnatal health. (I am also certified perinatal trainer and a Master Trainer through www.healthymomsfitness.com ) you did receive some great advice, particularly the books. However, a few things to consider, are you sleeping through the night? I finally began to lose weight when I was sleeping through the night, sleep is about 20% of the equation. And while b-feeding is great for inital weight loss, your body may hold on to those last 10lbs until you are done. I b-fed for one year, when I stopped, I lost 5lbs in one month (the other five I lost with the stomach flu..not the best way to do it either). I want to encourage you to continue to b-feed b/c the benefits outweigh. Every body is physiologically different some women say yes, it helped lose my baby weight while others hold onto it...I speak from experience and as a wellness educator.

Mother's Milk is a good tincture to boost your supply, if you have a Whole Foods, you can buy it there, it has fenugreek in there and other herbs to boost your supply. Avocados are a great source of healthy fat as well as hummus. And yes, eating the right kind of fat will help you lose weight too. :)

Enjoy and best wishes,
J. W. MPH

As an aerobics instructor, my question to you is how hard are you working at the gym and how fast are you walking. Often times, it's the quality of how hard we work, not the frequency. Your body could be in need of a switch. That is, your muscles may need different exercises than what you are doing. Feel free to e-mail me with questions about this.

Don't forget it took your body 40 weeks to get that size. It's not like a balloon that will deflate instantly (but wouldn't that be nice?). You're doing fine.

I nursed all my kids and couldn't drop the last 10 pounds until I quit nursing, but I had some friends who dropped it all while they were nursing. Everyone is different.

Hi E.,

One quick bit of advice - eat more often! If you are a 3 squares kind of gal switch to eating 5-6 times a day (smaller meals and snacks of course). This will help blood sugars remain stable throughout the day and it boosts your metabolism. If the weight stays on you'll know your body needs it to keep feeding your little one. I did lose a few more pounds without effort when I weaned my son at 17 months. I think most women do need that little bit of insurance. Good luck and congratulations on giving your daughter a great start in life!

Hi E.. Breastfeeding actually burns almost 500 cals a day (if you breastfeed a lot). So the bad news is when you stop breastfeeding you will gain weight unless you cut cals & work out. It hasn't been very long since the baby was born so it takes awhile for those lbs to come off. I didn't loose the rest of my baby weight until I started lifting some weights. Muscle burns more cals than fat so if you have more muscle mass you will loose weight. I would get a personal trainer at a gym for at least 1 month, 2 to 3 times a week. They will help you build a work out plan that will help you reach your goals.

E.,
I had the same experience as you and a lot of other Mamas who responded. That last 10 pounds just wouldn't come off while I was breastfeeding. I talked about it at my La Leche League group, and all the moms had similar experiences, and the leader even said that your body holds on to that extra weight for milk production. I got pregnant again before I stopped nursing my first child, so I don't know if the extra 10 would have come off had she weaned. Now, I'm nursing my second child and the 10 pounds are there. It's like my body just won't let go of them. Oh well, in the grand scheme of things, it's a short time to be up 10 pounds. When I'm done having children and nursing, I'll get rid of those extra pounds. You're doing a fabulous job, and your child is lucky to have such a giving mother as you!

I doubt your body needs that extra weight for supply. Recent research has suggested that the most important part of weightloss is calorie intake. Obviously, as you are nursing you don't want to do anything too drastic but I would map out what you eat each day and try to eat a little less. Slowly, this should burn off the extra calories. I was lucky, I only put on 19 lbs during pregnancy. Baby was 7 lbs 9oz and I actually went below my prepregnancy weight due to breast feeding. A calorie counter book can be a useful tool. Good luck.

Hi E.,
You're doing great. I don't think you need the added fat for your milk supply, just eat healthy, my doc said that's what it's all about. Give it some more time. Wait till she starts running around at 12 months or so and you have to chase her non-stop. That happened to me, with the breastfeeding and chasing after my energetic son (and a healthy diet)I lost 50+ pounds. But it took approximately 12 months. Hang in there. I hate to admit it, but I don't even work out, he is my work out, it's cheaper!

Within two or three weeks after I stopped nursing, my body lost almost 10 pounds -- and I didn't change much in terms of diet or exercise.

(I'm one of those people who holds onto the extra to ensure milk production.) Everyone is different.

The weight will come off.

You may have heard "Nine In, Nine Out" referring to gestation and infancy...it also applies to the weight gain & loss for moms. A helpful book is "Eat Well, Lose Weight While Breastfeeding". Helpful things include plenty of rest & water, and eating balanced and sensible portions at meals. Active dieting at this stage isn't such a good idea, as others have pointed out that once your little one is moving about, you'll do better getting the weight to come off.

Re: the dip in milk production...you say your LO is now 6m...Aunt Flo may be returning soon (if she hasn't already) and that can also impact production. And LO is also hitting that 6m growth spurt, so her appetite may seem to rival a teenager's at times, making it also seem like your production has decreased. And she's now starting solids, so she isn't exclusively on a breastmilk-only diet anymore, which will also reduce your supply a bit. If you're concerned about trying to keep supply up, trying drinking Mother's Milk tea...the combination of herbs and increased fluids may help your supply. Oatmeal for breakfast is another home remedy. Fenugreek can also help boost supply, too.

E., you sound like you are doing great. One piece of advice (since I'm in a similar situation) is if you are doing upper body exercises to stop temporarily. I spoke with my lactation consultant when I started seeing a decrease in my supply (around 4 months) and we talked about my exercising. She said that you need the fat (in the upper part of your body) for you milk. Lower body and cardio are fine but to reduce or eliminate my upper body work outs. The only exercise I do now is my biceps and triceps, stopped everything else (temporarily). In addition, are you getting enough protein? Protein is really important too for your milk supply. Keep up the good work!

Hi E.,
Congratulations on your bundle of joy!
I suggest that you take a postnatal exercise or yoga class to connect with other new Moms and consider meeting with a dietician on your food choices. I recommend Diane Bubek in Naperville - she's at
http://www.bubeckandassociates.com/
Postnatal yoga (you can bring the baby) is available at www.universalspirityoga.com
If you can figure out a way to get walking and other exercise every day, this will help your body.
On bad weather days, its possible to walk indoors at Fox Valley Mall (enter near Ruby Tuesday at 8am) and some indoor tracks will allow Moms with strollers.

Hey i think you got something here. Around my son's first birthday i lost 15-20 stubborn lbs that had been hanging on. I did not diet or change a thing. Some of my friends from la leche league went through similar experiences. Don't forget that your breasts will soften and it will seem like you have less because the engorgement you were used to has evened itself out to match your daughter. Good luck we just weaned at 21 months and my scale keeps telling me i'm up 5 lbs.

Hi E. !

I am a mother of a beautiful, active, 13 month old boy. I started to jog last summer and I found that I was not producing enough milk for him, so I quit jogging. I am over my prepregnancy weight by 35 pounds. I weigh now, what I weighed when I was 9 months pregnant. (I went from size 8 to 12/14) I also became a stay at home mommy and am home all day long, sometimes just snacking. I weighed 135 when I got pregnant, I am 5ft 8in, and have always been slim, now I carry some baggage, and feel like I need to in order to provide for my son. I am wanting to wean him by spring... but he is soooo attached that it is going to be so hard. I will let him have cups of whole milk with meals, but he doesn't care for it. I also have an 11 year old and he was nursed for only 6 weeks, as I had to return to work and pumping was impossible. So, I just wanted to let you know it's ok to be larger while nursing, You are still You !!! I think once it warms up some, I will get out and walk more and actually try to get into better shape. But I do think that nursing has something to do with retaining some extra weight. Now I know others just drop the weight when they nurse, some even quit nursing cuz they are dropping too much weight ... which would you prefer ? nurture your baby and be healthy ... OR just trying to be skinny again .... there's always time for that ....

I would suggest shooting for having the healthiest lifestyle possible rather than a number on the scale. Right now, your body's purpose is for bigger (no pun intended) and better things than fashion or size!! Personally, I am prone to body image issues but I tried to focus on the health of my baby and me while pregnant and nursing. I would do what makes you feel good, try not to stress about what you see on the scale and focus on diet and exercise for weight loss specifically once you are done nursing. Great job nursing so long!!

A friend of mine was rail thin and she nursed so maybe not the body fat that is truly needed. You probably lost a lot of fluids when you had the flu so you had to work it back up. Just make sure you eat right and do exercise. Just don;t overdo it becaue that can affect your supply. If I over exercise, I get a change depending on what I did.

You are very right. The body holds onto fat cells more when breastfeeding. It is the bodies way of holding onto supply should famine strike- then it will tap into reserves (very clever)!! Anyway, the fat will start shedding once breast feeding completely stops, though it will take some time. How is your diet? Try more proteins especially later in the day. Lean proteins are best or fat free food items that are protein based. Carbs seem to help store fat and really hold onto it when you are least active (at night before bed). You do need carbs but should have them in the beginning of the day rather at the end. I hope that helps some. Keep up the nursing- your daughter is benefiting in more ways than you know!!!

I just want to say that you are not alone. My daughter will be six months at the end of February and I am still 15lbs heavier. Don't worry it will come off.

Hi E. ~

Just wanted to say congrats and relax... I have two healthy boys that I nursed for 6 months and 8 months. I didn't lose all the baby weight until each one turned about two years old. Your body gets used to a certain way of life and it takes time to readjust. In the mean time, enjoy motherhood and the bonding with your baby through breastfeeding and take it easy on yourself. Your body will return when your baby doesn't need that support from you anymore. Good luck!

R. B

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.