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Weight Watchers & Breastfeeding

by
author image Lisa Weber
Lisa Weber is a freelance writer/editor and former special education teacher. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and professional writing, and a master's degree in special education. Over the last 15 years, she has written for a variety of newspapers, magazines, and on-line publications.
Weight Watchers & Breastfeeding
Weight Watchers has a plan for nursing mothers. Photo Credit TomFreeze/iStock/Getty Images

No matter how carefully a woman watches what she eats during her pregnancy, a few stubborn pounds often remain after she gives birth. For women who are nursing, and who want to shed those extra pounds, Weight Watchers offers a modification to its regular plan that allows women to consume enough calories to nurse but still lose weight at the same time.

Time Frame

After giving birth, it is important to get your doctor's approval before beginning Weight Watchers or any weight loss plan. According to the Weight Watchers website, new mothers should wait six to eight weeks after a baby is born before actively trying to lose weight. This gives the body time to recover from the strains of childbirth and build a sufficient milk supply. New mothers should also get their doctor's go-ahead before beginning or restarting an exercise program.

Features

According to the Weight Watchers plan, all foods are assigned a points value, and dieters are given a certain number of points to eat per day or per week. Dieters are assigned a daily points target based on their current weight, age and gender. An additional 35 points may be used throughout the week as needed. Additional points may be earned through exercise. Women who are nursing need an extra 500 calories in order to sustain a healthy milk supply. These calories are figured into a woman's daily target points.

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What to Eat

The quality of the foods a nursing mother eats is just as important as the quantity. It is important to follow a diet that features fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Protein is especially important for women who are breast-feeding. While most women need approximately 46 grams of protein daily, nursing mothers need 71 grams. Also, you will need to consume three servings of dairy every day, instead of the two servings normally recommended. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water and decaffeinated beverages--try for 16 cups a day. If you feel hungry all of the time, as many breast feeding women do, eat several mini-meals throughout the day, or have a snack every two hours to keep your energy levels up and your hunger at bay.

Benefits

Nursing mothers who follow the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose approximately 0.5 to 2 pounds per week. Following the plan's healthy guidelines will also ensure the proper balance of healthy foods to keep both mother and baby healthy.

Considerations

Losing weight too quickly could affect your milk supply and your baby's health, so be sure to at least eat your minimum number of calories daily. As you begin to wean your child, your caloric needs will decrease, so you will need fewer points. Additionally, your target points will also decrease as you lose weight. Evaluate your weight loss goals monthly, and adjust your eating accordingly.

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References

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