Friday, January 25, 2013

Using Breastfeeding as a Weight Loss Mechanism

I've touted this lovely side benefit of breast feeding, to any of my girlfriends who would listen.
Apparently a couple were listening, because I've had a couple of them complain that it wasn't working!

So, here's the gist of what I'm doing when I say I use breastfeeding to help me lose the baby weight.

First off, it's not going to happen in the first month, or even the first 3 months.  That 6 week Postpartum period really is just for healing.  Some women may need even longer than that to get everything back in working order.  Joints and muscles need time to realign. Your hormones need to settle down and you need to shed all that uterine material.  None of that is conducive to weight loss efforts.  Let your body heal. Gentle walks pushing the baby, walks with the baby in a sling, these are all fine, but anything more strenuous and you risk injury.

3-6 months postpartum, at this point you can start doing longer, harder walks. And low impact workouts. I liked yoga, swimming and dancing. Choose your weapon though.  This is also when baby hits the first major growth spurt.  Ladies, you'll know it's growth spurt time when baby wants to remain latched on 24 hours a day. :-D It's frustrating, and annoying to have to devote that much time to the little imp, but if you can resist the siren call of formula "just this once" and stick with it, baby will pull a lot of calories from you, and your body will respond by breaking down the "baby weight" to keep the milk supply healthy and copious.

After the 6 month mark, I start whittling down the extra food that I had been taking in from the 3rd trimester through the first 6 months of baby. That bedtime snack, or extra dessert, one at a time I do away with them.  I do make sure I am eating enough calories that my milk supply doesn't drop, but I stop taking in 100% of the calories I need for me and baby (or 110% or whatever "eating for two" looks like for you.) If I know I need ~2000, and baby is pulling 500-750 calories.  I try to aim for the 2400-2500 range of intake.  That way my body has motivation to pull from fat stores. I also focus on keeping what I am eating super healthy.  Lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, dairy and clean protein.  That way my body doesn't have to supply calcium from my bones or anything detrimental like that. I keep on with the exercising, what I can, when baby will let me, to help muscles rebuild so they can get in on the fat burning fun.

The other thing to watch out for is overeating while baby starts weaning.  A one year old baby needs about 900 calories, but is usually eating quite the range of finger foods, and significantly less of the breast milk. So you have to be careful to whittle back your own calories as baby ramps up the self feeding. 

Take away points here: You have to be committed to more than 6 weeks of breastfeeding.  Keep adjusting your calorie intake to keep up with the changes in breastfeeding,whether that means more calories in or less, listen to your body and give it time. It took 9 months to get to the 60 or 70 pounds overweight that full term pregnancy usually entails. Give yourself the same amount of time to whittle things back down.  Round 1 took me almost a full year to get rid of. Round 2 took only 8 months, practice helps I think. (Or the lack of convenient Thai food....) :-D


1 comment:

Jade Graham said...

even had suicidal thoughts that maybe if i died, hopefully next life i can be reborn as a slim and beautiful child, but i got no guts to end my life..