Why Can't I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Parenting Weight Loss

Why Can’t I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

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Are you concerned on why can’t I lose weight while breastfeeding?

Most of the time, pregnant women can’t wait to give birth so they can start exercising and dieting right away. 

This is because they want to lose the extra weight they put on while carrying a baby. 

Since dieting and losing weight during pregnancy is not a safe option, many plan to do it after giving birth

But because of the stresses involved in taking care of a newborn baby, it is likely impossible to find time to get some exercise done. 

Some women are lucky enough to lose weight thanks to breastfeeding. And some aren’t. Breastfeeding may even make them gain more weight.  

Unfortunately, breastfeeding doesn’t always guarantee weight loss. And there are many factors that can affect your post-pregnancy weight. 

And did we mention, breastfeeding can actually make you hungry? 

If you plan to exclusively breastfeed your baby, going on a diet may not be a wise idea since it can affect your milk supply. 

To know why you’re not losing weight while breastfeeding, keep reading this article! Hopefully, you’ll learn a thing or two on what you should do to lose weight the healthy way.

Why Can’t I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?

1. Not Eating Enough

Many people believe that in order to lose weight, they need to eat less. For nursing mothers, this isn’t necessarily the case. 

When you’re on a calorie-restricted diet, your body will end up saving energy elsewhere. 

One way it could do this is by turning down your energy production. As a result, you feel tired all the time and just want to sleep. 

Not to mention: when you’re on a diet, your milk supply will be affected. 

This can be a problem, especially if you wish to exclusively breastfeed your newborn for the next months. 

Instead of starving yourself, nourish your body. 

Make sure that you are eating the right food to make you feel nourished and energetic. This way, you can continue producing enough breastmilk for your newborn. 

While you’re awake, try to eat at least every two to three hours. Avoid eating empty calories so you can eat what your body needs. 

You will need at least 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day to make sure your milk supply is maintained. 

2. Overeating

Why Can't I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

The previous advice is to eat some more, which contradicts this point– you’re eating too much! 

While you need to make sure that you are eating right, you also have to check that you’re not eating for two; especially if this is a habit that you practiced while you were pregnant. 

In the first three months postpartum, your body will be vulnerable to your body’s dietary needs. 

This is why you need to avoid restricting your calorie intake during this time, or until your body has established its milk supply. 

If after this period, you’re still struggling with your postpartum weight, it may be best to look at your calorie intake. 

What many fail to realize is that breastfeeding can make you super hungry. And this can make you overweight. 

In order to lose weight safely, you can aim to reduce your caloric intake by 300 calories per day.

This is a safe number that will help you lose weight gradually without compromising your milk supply. 

Having a calorie calculator or calorie tracker app can be pretty useful in such a scenario. 

Or you can follow a breastfeeding meal plan with nutrient-dense options. 

This will ensure your body meets its needs and will help maintain your milk supply. 

3. Less Physical Activity

There is a difference between being active and being busy. Even though you are running around and picking up toys all day, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are more active now that you have kids.

It simply means that you are busier than before. 

Remember that if you want to lose weight, you need to be active. 

And it doesn’t really mean that you have to spend hours at the gym, especially if you don’t have the luxury of time and resources to do that. 

Instead, be conscious of your actions, no matter how small they may be. 

Exert a little more effort in gradually increasing your physical activity. You can do this by going for a walk or jog when you are taking out your baby for some morning sun. 

Or you can dance with your older kids as a fun way to interact. 

During the weekends, you can go outdoors with your family and go on a walk, bike, or hike. 

These are just some of the things you can do to slowly add more physical activity to your routine. 

4. Chronic Stress

Why Can't I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

Hey momma, here’s another reason you’re not losing weight: you’re chronically stressed!

As a mom, every minute matters whether you are taking care of a newborn or you’re in a household with more kids. 

Unlike before, you don’t have the luxury of time to enjoy a shower or leisurely watch a movie with your husband. 

It may even take a while before you can actually go on a romantic dinner date without checking up on your kids. Oh and yes, sleeping in on the weekends? That’s gone. 

But this is your life now. 

And as a mom, life becomes more stressful now that you have kids. 

Even if you have your child safely tucked in beside you, it’s normal to stress and worry over things. 

And when this happens, your body releases cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to weight gain.

Not to mention, lack of sleep can also cause you to overeat. 

Having elevated cortisol levels and lack of sleep can make you crave sugary and fatty food. And this can lead you to gain weight in your tummy area. 

To fight this, you need to look for ways you can de-stress. Find something that you enjoy doing and take your mind off of things even for just a few minutes. 

It can be yoga, exercise, a quiet walk by yourself, a short bubble bath with some music, or even baking. 

Find out what it is that helps you reset and do it daily. You will need it to de-stress. 

5. Hormones

If you frequently ask why can’t I lose weight while breastfeeding, it may have something to do with your hormones. 

Every time your baby latches, your body releases a hormone called Prolactin. This is necessary for breastmilk production. 

Unfortunately, this hormone also makes sure that you are not too skinny. 

Studies have shown that people with a high level of Prolactin can often feel tired, have less energy, and gain weight. And this happens even if they are not breastfeeding. 

As a breastfeeding mom, your Prolactin level is about 10 times higher than a normal person’s.

This is why you get super hungry after you nurse your baby. 

To help you deal with this, you will need to boost your body’s hormone called Adiponectin; which promotes a faster metabolism. 

But since your body needs Prolactin to produce milk, you need to be mindful in increasing your body’s Adiponectin. 

So how do you do this? 

Studies have shown that moderate exercise, daily fish oil intake, and a high fiber diet can improve your body’s Adiponectin levels. 

You can achieve this by including more fruits and vegetables in your diet. 

Also, go for whole grains instead of refined grains so you can increase your fiber consumption. 

It’s also recommended that you include 2 or 3 servings of low-mercury fish in your weekly diet so you can get healthy fats in your body. 

By doing these things, you can increase your Adiponectin levels without affecting your body’s milk supply. 

Breastfeeding Diet Myths

1. I want to stop breastfeeding so I can lose weight

Nursing helps make a mother’s metabolism more efficient. But you can only lose weight if the number of calories you consume is within the 1,600-1,800 daily range. 

If you are eating 3,000 calories every day, you can expect to gain weight, especially if you are not doing any exercise. But since nursing can make a mom more hungry, it’s no surprise why many overeat.

Because of this, there are many moms who think about stopping breastfeeding their babies. This is because they want to be in control of their weight. 

Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple. 

If you wean a baby, you might see a sudden spike in your weight. This can be blamed on your changing hormones. 

When you stop breastfeeding your baby, the level of prolactin gradually drops. And this means that the hormone gets stored in your body instead of expressed through nursing. 

Once your body stores prolactin, your fat metabolism is reduced; which means you’ll likely gain weight. 

Another reason why this is a myth is that even when you decide to stop breastfeeding, there is still a tendency for you to consume extra calories. After all, your body has been used to doing that throughout your pregnancy and the first few months postpartum. 

Unless you are cautious about the calories you put in, you will only continue asking why can’t I lose weight while breastfeeding. 

2. Focusing on certain foods will help increase your milk supply

For years, many women have believed that there are specific breastfeeding foods they need to consume for their bodies to continually produce milk. 

Some of these foods include oatmeal, ginger, brewer’s yeast, barley, banana, basil, and pumpkin. 

Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a myth. There is actually no proof that these actually contribute to your body’s capacity to produce milk. 

Instead, the foods being recommended to increase milk supply are very nutritious. You can definitely add these foods to your diet. 

But you need to stop relying on these foods as a way of improving your milk supply. 

As long as you are eating enough food and meeting the minimum number of calories your body needs in a day, you’ll be fine. 

The best way you can increase your milk supply is to frequently breastfeed or pump milk from your breasts. 

3. There are foods you need to avoid so the baby doesn’t get gassy

Another common myth that needs to be debunked is the idea that certain foods will cause your baby to be gassy. 

This usually comes from the idea that gas in babies is a result of a mom’s diet. In most cases, this simply isn’t true. 

Your breastmilk, however, will change flavor depending on what you eat. This is why your baby may be reluctant to nurse if you recently consumed something spicy or garlicky. 

Although the flavor of your breastmilk won’t hurt them, they will likely develop a preference. 

If your baby consistently seems to be gassy or fussy after you eat certain foods, try to avoid them for a few days. 

4. Breastfeeding will make you lose weight

Why Can't I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

This is the biggest breastfeeding misconception of all. Many women have been told that they will lose the weight they gained during pregnancy once they start breastfeeding. 

And this has caused women to believe that the weight will just fall off without the need to do anything. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for everyone. 

There are some women who hang onto some extra weight while they are nursing. And since breastfeeding can make you feel very hungry, it may make you eat more than you used to. 

Instead, aim to lose weight gradually. If you drastically cut calories, it will also affect your milk supply. 

The best thing to do is to focus on balanced meals with nutrient-rich foods so you can make sure you’re eating right. 

5. Avoid drinking caffeine

Here’s one myth that lots of new moms like to hear: caffeine isn’t off-limits when you’re breastfeeding. 

But this is limited to those who consume only one cup of coffee per day. 

According to research, only around 1% of the caffeine you consume gets into breastmilk. 

This means that you can drink up to 200ml of caffeine per day without affecting your breastmilk. 

However, this number should include your total caffeine consumption including tea, caffeinated soda, chocolate, cocoa powder, and some pain relievers. 

6. Don’t drink alcohol

Another myth that needs to be debunked is the thought that you should avoid drinking alcohol while you are breastfeeding. 

Instead, you can have an occasional drink with some precautions. You should also avoid nursing your baby while you are consuming alcohol or shortly after. 

The good rule of thumb is to wait two hours after your drink before you feed your baby. This is because alcohol enters breastmilk but decreases over time. 

If you are drinking and your breasts get engorged, you can pump out the milk and dump it instead. 

How to lose belly fat while breastfeeding

1. Lose the Weight Gradually

If you are tired of asking why can’t I lose weight while breastfeeding and want to do something about it, the best thing to do is to exercise and eat right. 

Your weight loss needs to happen gradually so that your milk supply will not be affected. This is particularly true if you plan on breastfeeding your baby for several months. 

Experts say that you can safely lose 1-2 pounds per week. Remember you still lose up to 500 calories per day when you are breastfeeding.

2. Make Sure You Get The Right Nutrients

Why Can't I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

Your body has more nutritional needs when you are breastfeeding. This is why you need to eat right to meet your needed calories. 

When you are breastfeeding, you should not restrict the consumption of healthy fats since this is needed in your breastmilk. The only trick you have to remember is to get it from the right sources of nutrition. 

Some sources of healthy fat include omega-3 rich fatty foods, nuts, avocados, and olive oil. 

3. Avoid Fad Diets

It may be tempting to go on a fad diet, especially when you want to lose weight quickly. 

But as doctors advise, fad diets usually over-promise quick results. And sadly, most of these will drastically restrict your calorie intake. 

And as mentioned several times in this article, your milk supply will be affected if you do not supply your body the calories it needs.  

Even if you aren’t breastfeeding, you should avoid fad diets, especially if you want to get effective and long-lasting results. 

Instead of dieting, you should remember to eat the right foods. You can do this by simply limiting your high-fat dairy intake. Avoid processed foods too. 

4. Go Low-Carb

One helpful tip to lose the pregnancy weight you gained is to go for a low-carb diet. 

Limit the number of carbohydrates you consume every day. However, target a minimum of 1,800 calories per day so you can continue to have enough supply of breastmilk. 

Before starting any diet, talk to your doctor.  

5. Stay Hydrated

Why Can't I Lose Weight While Breastfeeding

When you’re breastfeeding, you are expressing a lot of liquid for your baby. This is why you need to replenish that amount by staying hydrated throughout the day. 

Aim to drink 12 cups (96 fl oz) of water every day. This will not only help maintain your supply of breastmilk, it will also help you flush out water weight. 

If you are trying to lose weight, avoid drinking sugary beverages as these contain a lot of sugar and are empty calories. 

6. Rest When You Can

There’s no denying that this is probably the most overrated advice any experienced parent can give a new one. 

But it’s really a good reminder to try to rest whenever you can, especially if your baby is sleeping too. 

Not only will help you recover faster, it will also help in making you lose weight faster.

At the same time, you can avoid being chronically stressed, which will only make you crave sugary food during the day. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can breastfeeding stop you from losing weight?

Throughout the years, many believe that breastfeeding can help your body burn calories. Unfortunately, this is only a myth. 

Although you will burn some stored body fat, your body still protects some of that fat for breastmilk production. And you might even feel the need to eat more because of your hunger. 

There are some women who don’t lose all the weight they gained until they stop nursing completely. 

How can I lose weight fast while breastfeeding?

Minimize your consumption of empty carbohydrates, processed food, and junk food. 

Instead, aim to have a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables. Stick to at least 1,800 calories per day so you can safely lose one pound per week.

Can breastfeeding make you gain weight?

Remember that breastfeeding does not necessarily make you gain weight. This only happens when you overeat. 

And if you go over the recommended 1,800 calories per day, you will surely gain weight since you don’t have any way of losing that weight. 

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Iesha Mulla

Iesha is a loving mother of 2 beautiful children. She's an active parent who enjoys indoor and outdoor adventures with her family. Her mission is to share practical and realistic parenting advice to help the parenting community becoming stronger.

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