Most moms know that breastfeeding is best when it comes to feeding your baby. Not only does breast milk contain a host of beneficial nutrients and antibodies, according to the National Women’s Health Information Center, but there are benefits for the mother as well.
Breastfeeding increases the bond between mother and child and is much more budget-friendly than purchasing formula. In addition, breastfeeding can even help you lose weight.
Most women gain an average of 30 pounds while they are pregnant, according to WebMD. While much of this weight can be attributed to the baby and amniotic fluid, the body also puts on extra layers of fat to prepare for breastfeeding. The fat is used primarily to produce milk.
Breastfeeding burns calories and those fat layers accumulated during pregnancy. The production of milk also burns calories. A study by the Department of Nutrition at the University of California found that breastfeeding mothers lost significantly more weight than formula-feeding mothers, as long as they breastfed for at least six months. The positive effects of breastfeeding on weight loss diminished or disappeared entirely after 12 months of breastfeeding.
The greatest amount of weight lost by lactating women was between 3 and 6 months postpartum, according to the University of California study. Those who exercised and ate a healthy diet lost weight the quickest. The rate of weight loss from breastfeeding is dependent on much more than nursing alone. The mother’s natural metabolism, active lifestyle and diet are all important factors.
Mothers who are nursing need extra calories to produce breast milk. They should not drastically reduce their calorie input, or their milk supply will be reduced as well. In addition, heavy exercising can release toxins into the breast milk, according to Babycenter. For this reason, weight loss should not be the primary reason for breastfeeding. Instead, focus on a gradual weight loss while continuing to consume plenty of calories from nutritious sources.
Breastfeeding alone is not a magic formula for losing weight quickly. In fact, a breastfeeding mother should look to lose around only 1 lb per week while consuming a daily diet that includes between 1500 and 1800 calories, according to La Leche League International. These levels will ensure that both baby and mom stay as healthy as possible.