Postpartum Weight Loss
Breastfeeding will make you lose the baby weight fast, they said.
There is a ton of pressure on moms to “bounce back” after having a newborn. Right after giving birth and holding your little bundle of joy you realize the first surprise: you still look pregnant, just like when you were 6 months in (ughhh) and everyone around you will comment “You’ll drop that weight so fast if you are breastfeeding”. I was led to believe that breast feeding was the equivalent of going to the gym and doing a diet. They made me think that each breastfeeding session will help my pooch belly to vanish and I would fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans in no time. I thought: finally, this is the prize I get after swollen ankles, pains of pregnancy and sleepless nights feeding my little one.
Well, as you know I’m a nerd, so I did some research about it and found out that in the first 6 months of the baby, moms spend between 500 and 900 extra calories to feed the little one (depending on baby’s age and how often they feed within other factors), which meant theoretically I would be dropping around 4 pounds (being conservative) per month maintaining my diet and exercise regime. Forget the belly bootcamp, just feed your baby! Snuggles plus an awesome body afterwards, what can beat this?
Turns out after some months breastfeeding I wasn’t anything near a bikini body… SURPRISE!!! BREASTFEEDING WEIGHT LOSS IS NOT ALWAYS TRUE!!! Guess who is there to blame? Mainly HORMONES (good guess) but there are some other factors. Let’s take a look at the 3 main reasons why you might not lose those love handles you really want to get rid of.
1.Eating too much
OHHH MY GOD!!!! I never imagined I could feel that hungry. I usually have a good size appetite, but nothing even close to the raging hunger I experienced the day after my milk came in. Advice here? listen to your body… responding to hunger cues early on will help you avoid elephant size appetite and the need to over indulge yourself.
Many moms also overeat in fear of losing milk supply… and I get it, you really want to make sure you are producing enough milk for your LO, but overeating won’t help you produce more milk, just a balanced and healthy diet will. Some old wives’ advice here?
- Drink A LOT of water, at least half your body weight in ounces of spring water (no teas or juices count towards it)
- Oats, flaxseed, barley and protein rich food will help
- Lots of snuggles <3 Skin-to skin contact helps you release prolactin and stimulates oxytocin; two important hormones in making breastmilk.
2. Sleep and stress, that after having a baby these two are really one… they go hand in hand
So, I know it’s not your choice to have sleepless nights and that it is practically impossible to be zen with a crying baby, little sleep and postpartum pains, not to mention breastfeeding learning curve.
On one hand, research suggests that inadequate sleep can help boost the hunger and satiety hormones, causing appetite to increase… EVEN MORE! In addition to that, other researchers found that sleep deprived people tend to reach for high calorie food compared to well rested folks… That is why at 2am in the morning when you desperately need your nursing snack you are most likely not going to have a green smoothie. If you are anything like me you will have crackers or in the best of the days granola bars or dehydrated fruit.
On the other hand, a research from the university of South Carolina found that stress, and in particular maternal stress, predicts postpartum weight retention.
My advice on this one…. It’s kind of hard, but I honestly want to let you know there is light at the end of the tunnel! Being aware of your feelings and anxieties goes a long way. Ask for help when you need it, your “me time” is equally important to your baby’s time. Healthy mom, healthy baby!
3.Hormones… you were all waiting for this one!
Prolactin aka fat-storing hormone is the culprit of weight gain during breastfeeding. Prolactin is also the hormone that promotes milk production and keeps ovulation away. Ovulation away (yaiii) also means low levels of progesterone which is a fat burning hormone (buuuu). So concluding, you have high levels of fat-storing hormone and low levels of fat burning hormone while breastfeeding. Nature made us this way so that if there is any scarcity of food you would still have enough fat to feed your baby… which was very useful thousands of years ago, but not today!
Breastfeeding will make you lose the baby weight fast, they said. But for me as for many of you this is not true, and there is no shame in taking a bit longer to “bounce back” or even if you don’t bounce back at all. The best advice I can give you is to listen to your body and be kind to yourself. Postpartum is not the time to diet or exercise insane hours (not that I would do any of the above even not-pregnant). This is the time to enjoy your baby, snuggle and take in all the love you can. Believe it or not, this phase will pass and will go by fast, so for now… enjoy your tiny human, weight loss will come after.
Disclaimer: This is not professional advice. This is me sharing my personal experience.
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