Just because the birth of a baby has signaled an end to pregnancy, doesn’t mean that mothers can stop watching what they eat or drink. Nursing moms need to eat a wide variety of foods.
A healthy diet includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as protein. This ensures that mom’s diet is nutritious enough to support her health, and the health, growth and development of the baby.
While some healthcare professionals discourage new breastfeeding mothers from doing anything specific to actively lose weight right after birth, it is generally considered safe as long as mothers follow a few simple guidelines.
Tips to Safely Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
The act of breastfeeding a baby can burn around 500 calories a day, so most new moms can lose weight after pregnancy without doing anything specific. New moms that plan to diet should avoid crash dieting and other fad plans when breastfeeding, but continue to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.
Nursing moms should also avoid diet pills, including over-the-counter preparations that promise to aid weight loss as they can contain additives that could pass through the breast milk and harm baby.
Some mothers find that it is easier to lose weight while they are breastfeeding, by eating three smaller meals a day that are supplemented with snacks in between each meal. This simple step can make it easier for the body to lose weight by keeping metabolism levels high, as sometimes a reduction in calories can cause the body’s processes to slow down, making it more difficult to shed excess pounds.
Eating smaller meals and more healthy snacks through the day can also help to keep blood sugar levels stabilized which can help mothers avoid the temptation to binge eat on unhealthy food choices such as candy, soda, and fried foods that are all high in calories but low in nutrients. Eating foods that are high in protein, low in fat and high in iron will also help new moms to maintain their energy levels.
New mothers should also take care to drink plenty of water, whether or not they are dieting and exercising. Staying properly hydrated can make it easier to lose weight and get into shape, as well as helping to protect the mother’s ability to produce an adequate supply of breast milk.
How Many Calories and Pounds is it Safe to Shed?
At a minimum, nursing mothers need to consume at least 1,800 calories a day to avoid jeopardizing their supply of breast milk. If you are counting calories, don’t forget that exercise will increase your need for calories, so be careful to account for this when adjusting your diet.
In general, breastfeeding moms should avoid losing more than 1 pound each week, since weight loss that is too rapid can threaten a new mother’s supply of breast milk as well as harm baby’s growth and development. It’s also advisable to put off starting or resuming any overly strenuous exercise program until after the first postpartum check-up with the doctor, which is usually scheduled for around six weeks after the delivery.