Losing Weight While Breastfeeding?

Updated on February 24, 2007
A.L. asks from Stevens Point, WI
12 answers

I'm now nursing my 3rd child and I have put on quite a lot of baby weight between the three of him (I now weigh over 250 pounds). I don't have a problem with being chubby (in fact, I preferr to be that way!) but I do want to lose a bit of weight in order to be able to keep up with them without pooping out too easily. (Losing the mommy-belly would be nice, too!)

I walk 10 blocks to work and back at least 4 times a week. I also play Dance Dance Revolution (a Playstation 2 game that essentially gives a good aerobic work out) occasionally - meaning "whenever I don't feel like I'm dragging my butt..."

My question is - How can I safely diet when I'm nursing? I'm not certain as to how many calories that I should be taking in all-together, nor am I certain on how to calculate my calorie intake.

I don't want to get involved in "weight watchers" or anything that controls my diet like that, mainly because I'm vegetarian and it's nigh impossible to find pre-picked meals that suit my needs that way.

I'm a little bit confused as to how I can feel so tired all the time as well, I've actually gained weight since I had Sakura (my youngest) so I'm obviously taking in more calories than I need. I was tested, and I don't have a thiroid problem. I'm NOT pregnant again.

I do have PPD but I've been on Zoloft for about a month now and things seem to be going alright otherwise, so I don't really know if my fatigue is from my depression.

Any ideas?

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answers from Minneapolis on

Weight Watchers has a program specifically for nursing mothers.



answers from Appleton on

My docotr told me that nursing, I sould only need 2200 calories a day, so if that will help you. I di that and it took 6 months but I have lost about 20 lbs. ( not counting whatever I lost in the first 8 weeks.) From what I hear weight watchers might not be a bad idea, I think you can get a free consultaion, so it might be worth checking into. My friend did that after she had her baby, and they have a special program for new moms!! Good luck with everything!



answers from Milwaukee on

I'm currently reading "eat well, lose weight" by eileen Behan. I picked it up super cheap on ebay.

I'm also reading "the new breastfeeding diet plan" by robert rountree (more expensive)

i liked the 1st book better, because it actually gives a suggestive diet plan that's good for both mom & baby. both books say pretty much to watch the carbs & calories, and eat mostly the good foods made by the earth.

I'm breastfeeding twins, so I'm always hungry!



answers from Minneapolis on

Yeah vegetarianism! But do you still eat bread products?

I lost 94 lbs because I realized I was reacting to gluten. Depending on what's going on in your body, it can prevent your intestine from fully absorbing the nutrients you are eating. I became extremely fatigued after eating because of this.

Gluten is not a nutrient! It's like alcohol. People can consume it, but it just gets processed thru liver & expelled. It doesn't convert into anything necessary for body. It can be harder for the liver (et al.) to process, the more it's full of environmental toxins, etc.

Don't worry about calories. Just eat high nutrient foods & you will be fine. You probably already know this, but eat lots of high fiber foods (but NOT BREAD!!!): Kale, Spinach, raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, oranges, etc. Try just lightly steaming veggies & adding lemon or lime juice plus garlic or ginger + fresh herbs (e.g. basil) for flavor. And definitely add some SEA SALT to get proper electrolytes & minerals. Really easy, tasty & super healthy.

As a safe way to get your body feeling better (& totally safe while breastfeeding), eat only the following 3 types of food for up to 1 month:
Vegetables, Fruits, grass-fed/hormone free meats & fish.
Use an online diet journal if you like & enter the foods to prove to yourself you're getting enough nutrients - I used to use fitday.com til I knew stuff w/o entering data.

I know you said you're veg - I normally am too (i'm allergic to soy & so I pretty much have to eat meat while pg since beans made me nauseous)

then add back other foods 1 at a time to see how you feel after eating that food (like rice or soy for instance) - this is a good way to find out if you have any food sensitivities. Even if you don't, you'll still probably lose some weight during this time, but more importantly, you will gain lots of energy and your body will have had time to heal & now be able to process more efficiently.

the other SUPER important thing is to drink LOTS of water. Normally they say 8 glasses/day, but that's not accounting for size. To figure out how much you REALLY need, take your weight, divide by 2, then divide that by 8. That number is how many glasses of water you really need to be properly hydrated. So if you're 250 right now, you actually need about 15 glasses of 8 oz. water per day. As you lose weight, reduce appropriately.

And you probably know this, but no one NEEDS dairy - in fact it can be also making you sleepy & causing fatigue since it's really hard on your gut to process.

Oh, and a thing about sugar. Obviously it's not really good for us, but many of us (incl me) have a sweet tooth. Honey seems better, but it's not really - it still is high glycemic & raises blood sugar levels too fast. The best sweetner that I've been using & love! is Agave Nectar Syrup - it's from a lily (people think it looks like a cactus) & is same plant Tequila is derived from. What's really cool about it is it's LOW GLYCEMIC which means it doesn't raise blood sugar levels quickly. It's appropriate for people with diabetes, etc. And it doesn't really cost much more than honey. Plus it's super sweet so you don't need as much. Kind of a cross btwn honey & maple syrup. Taste it! I swear you won't want to go back!

Also, something I recently heard on the news but haven't really investigated myself yet is that women who suffer from PPD have the same HIGH levels of Copper in their system as while pg. But women who didn't have PPD went back to pre-pg Copper levels (Low). Again I haven't looked into it yet, but I'm sure there's some element that binds to Copper to help remove extra store from your body. You may want to look into this.

And personally, I would completely recommend getting off of Zoloft. I'm sorry, but most pharma-drugs are complete B.S. & only masking symptoms making underlying problem worse. I had 5 chronic illnesses that I got rid of doing all the things (plus biking) that I've mentioned here, including taking myself off of EVERYTHING pharma - including tylenol & ibuprofen. There are natural equivalents for anything that's needed.

But of course come off of Zoloft safely - I highly recommend talking to Dr. Tel-Oren (Dr. T) at Ecopolitan on Hennepin Ave at 24th St. See http://www.ecopolitan.com/doctor-t-cv-full. Check out the restaurant, ask for advice, and find out about attending free lectures & classes, and you can read website for more info.

Hope this helps. Feel free to respond with any questions.




answers from Minneapolis on

hello, i'm sorry that I won't be able to actually give you first hand experence as to what to do, i've never breastfed and myself don't know anything about counting calories but you did mention weight watchers. my mother used them and they really helped her lose weight. being a vegetarian will not be a prob. with them. they don't actually pre pick your meals or tell you what to eat. they have a "point system" and they teach you how to count your points and you are only allowed so many in a day. that way you can eat whatever you want as long as you stay with in your point count. maybe you already knew this and maybe you aren't interested but i thought if it would help i would let you know. good luck. H. ayer



answers from Eau Claire on

I don't think you should rule out Weight Watchers! I joined a week after I had my daughter and I lost 45 pounds to date. I was nursing her for four months while I was doing it. Weight Watchers doesn't have "meals" You can eat whatever you want you just have to stay in the points your allowed. You get extra points for the week and extra points if you work out. It sounds like if your a vegetarian you would have no problem staying in the points. You also get extra points when you are breastfeeding to get the baby nutrition too. Check out their website but don't rule them out!



answers from Minneapolis on

When I got pregnant with my son, my weight ballooned. I also had PPD and I kept gaining after he was born until I was over 250 pounds. The key is to start slowly. The first thing I did was pick up a yoga DVD at Target. I started doing it every other day, it was half an hour long. In a couple weeks, I could feel the benefits- I had more energy and the excersize was releasing extra endorphins and counteracting the PPD. Eventually I started to get adventerous and downloaded more yoga and pilates programs I could do while Nathan was napping or in bed. It was easy after that, once I saw that I felt better, it came easy and naturally to say no to the sweets and head for the whole grains and protiens and before I knew it I was eating almost completely organic and I eventually learned to keep what I ate low on the glycemic index. Just over a year after I began with a single yoga DVD, I weighed in at 143 pounds. After being heavy all my life, having a child and a body that has been through hell, that one little yoga DVD literally saved my life and my toddler thanks me!



answers from Minneapolis on

Weight Watchers has a plan that they can adapt to nursing mothers. To be honest though, my body just would NOT drop the weight no matter how hard I tried until I totally weaned my son, so just be aware, and try not to get too frustrated!

Good luck though! I LOVE WW!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi A.,
I know the feeling. I put on an additional 30 pounds-(50 overall-baby) for my pregnancy. My understanding is that it is not safe to do extreme dieting when you are nursing. You must maintain a certain level of calories or you will lose bone density. Just an FYI, weight watchers is vegetarian and nursing friendly. They do not have prepackaged meals that are necessary to your diet. In fact, I find that a lot of vegetarian items are more well suited to weight watchers because they are high in fiber and protein, low in fat. (Boca and beans etc)That being said, I still have 10-15 pounds left to lose. I think weight watchers is very time consuming and you have to really be ready to commit. I have joined several times in the last year and not kept up with it. It sounds like you are doing a good job with exercise and taking care of yourself and that is more important than losing extra pounds right away. You will lose the extra weight when you are ready. Don't pressure yourself.



answers from Minneapolis on

After trying and trying on my own, I joined weight watchers after having my daughter and lost all my baby weight and then some. It really worked for me - it doesn't control your diet - I am a vegetarian too and it is a great support system. I recently rejoined (I had another baby - he is 21 months old and I still have 10 pounds to lose). I just wasn't taking it off on my own - after less than a month I am down 8 pounds. You could go and give it a try to see how you like it...



answers from Minneapolis on

I can't afford special weight loss programs but if you can afford it that may be the way to go. I talk to a health coach through our insurance and I've done internet searches on breastfeeding while losing weight etc. on Google. I too am bf and wanting to lose weight. You need 500 additional calories a day. From my internet search women should be between 1500-1800 calories a day. I counted my calorie intake three times and I'm usually around 2000-2100 so I actually need to cut back. They say the higher end is better so 1800 while bf. The calories add up very fast and you'd be surprised how little you need to eat to make it to the limit. My favorite is peanut butter chocolate ice cream with a scoop of peanut butter and two peanut butter cups. That's about 800 calories for 2 cups of ice cream. I stick to snacking on baby carrots or brocc. and/or a granola bar. I've cut my food intake in half to try to shrink my stomach and keep within 1800-2000 calories a day.



answers from Minneapolis on

Think health. Instead of trying to lose wieght, think about what you are eating when you do eat. I think if a person only drinks water instead of high calorie drinks and did everything else the same that they would feel better and be slimmer. Also try to get enough sleep. Tired people are tempted to eat sweets for energy. I am slim but very aware of what I eat - I could easily gain weight if I drink pop and eat donuts and french fries. Another thing to avoid is anything with hydrogenated oils, including margarine and deep fried restaurant food. Also take vitamins. This will be good for baby also. It's worth it just to feel better.

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