Breastfeeding and Weight Loss

You were probably told breastfeeding would be this incredible biological postpartum weight loss plan. While that may be true for about 1/3 of people, most of us hold on to our weight regardless of how much boob juice we make. When you breastfeed, fat cells stored in your body during pregnancy and calories from your diet fuel milk production. Your body burns about 20 calories for each ounce of milk you make. Which is why you need an extra 300-500 calories a day. After an immediate postpartum weight loss of about 15#, it tends to be gradual — about 1–2 pounds a month for the first six months after childbirth and more slowly after that point. It often takes 6-9 months to lose pregnancy weight.

Why are you not losing the baby weight?

🧁 I don’t know about you, but I was hungrier breastfeeding than pregnant. You’re still eating for two only your second party is bigger now than when they were in your belly. Breastfeeding cravings are real. 

🧁 Lactation cookies? Let’s be honest, a cookie is still a cookie whether or not it helps with your supply. Eating lots of bars, cookies, power drinks and teas with sugar or honey are not going to help with weight. 

😵‍💫Stress: Research has also found that elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone) have been associated with weight retention in the first 12 months postpartum

😴 Lack of sleep:  Research shows when we don’t get consistent sleep, our hunger hormone (ghrelin) gets triggered and our satiety hormone (leptin) dips, increasing appetite. Scientists at the University of California also found that sleep-deprived people tend to reach for higher-calories foods compared to those who are well-rested.

🩸Hormones: Prolactin, your milk making hormone, is also sometimes called the “fat-storing hormone”. High levels of prolactin can result in weight gain. And they are at their highest while breastfeeding. While more research on prolactin is needed, we hypothesize that our bodies undergo metabolic adaptations to hold onto excess fat as “insurance” for baby. Meaning, if you were to find yourself in a famine, you body has what it needs for baby.

🔑Remember: there is waaaay too much pressure to “bounce back” after having a baby. Your body is epic and lovely and just pushed a tiny human being out. Your body is going through so many changes and there are physiological things at play that can be beyond your control. Trust your body. Trust your baby. Love your body. 

Sudden breast milk supply drop

Breastfeeding going well and all of a sudden you feel like your milk is gone? Go pee on a stick. A drastic drop in milk supply when breastfeeding has been going well can be a sign of pregnancy, even if your period hasn’t come back yet. Research shows it is safe to continue breastfeeding while pregnant and does not increase the risk of miscarriage. So there no reason to wean unless you’re a high risk pregnancy (if you are told by your health care provider that you can’t have sex, you shouldn’t breastfeed. If it’s safe to have sex, it’s safe to continue breastfeeding.) If so you are not alone—far from it.

Key points to remember when breastfeeding and pregnant:

• Milk will shift from mature milk back to colostrum around 14-20 weeks of your pregnancy to prepare for the birth. Babies under 6 months may not get enough milk from the breast alone while toddler eating solids may do fine. Monitor weight gain for babies under 1 year

• Colostrum is saltier than mature milk. Some nurslings are fine with the taste shift and others may self wean

• Aim for a total of about 600 to 800 extra calories — 300 for the fetus and 300 to 500 for milk production.

• Nipples may become extremely tender during pregnancy, especially at the beginning, due to hormone changes

• Breastfeeding aversion while pregnant is normal (feelings of stress or anxiety or wanting to stop breastfeeding)

• If your toddler always nurses to sleep, you may want to find other sleep routines to make putting older one to sleep easier when you have the new baby.

• As your belly grows, you may need to experiment with new breastfeeding positions.

You are what you eat, and so is your baby

Did you know that not only do the volumes of milk produced by the left and right breast differ, the milk made in the left breast can also taste different than that made in the right… during the same feeding!!

What you eat used to change the flavor of your amniotic fluid, exposing baby when they were a fetus to the profile of your diet, preparing them for the flavors they would later experience in your breast milk. Eating a wide variety in your diet while you’re pregnant and breastfeeding exposes your little one to a wide variety of flavors, getting them used to the spices, herbs and tastes of food they will be given when they start table food eaten by your family. The more of a particular food you eat, research says, the better the chance your baby will also like to eat that food.

Eating allergenic foods during pregnancy also protects baby from food allergies, especially if you continue to eat them while breastfeeding suggests new research. So far, there is no evidence that avoiding certain foods while breastfeeding helps prevent baby from developing allergies or asthma. The exception to that might be eczema: avoiding certain foods may reduce the risk of eczema. Allergy studies are challenging because of many factors, including food introduction, genetics, and maternal diet. Most studies conclude that exclusive breastfeeding (even as little as one month) lessens how often some allergies occur. Evidence also suggests that exclusive breastfeeding during the first four months may offer protection against certain types of allergic diseases including cow’s milk allergy and atopic dermatitis. So while oatmeal 24/7 may help increase your milk supply, switch it up for baby’s sake (and yours!!)