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Diet and Exercise While Breastfeeding

by
author image Laura Niedziocha
Laura Niedziocha began her writing career in 2007. She has contributed material to the Stoneking Physical Therapy and Wellness Center in Lambertville, N.J., and her work has appeared in various online publications. Niedziocha graduated from Temple University with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. She also has her Associate of Arts in communications from the Community College of Philadelphia.
Diet and Exercise While Breastfeeding
A woman is jogging with a baby stroller. Photo Credit Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

If you are breastfeeding, you clearly want the best for you and your new baby. While the breast is usually best, it can take a toll on your body. Pregnancy leads to weight gain that most are anxious to get rid of when baby arrives. However, when you are breastfeeding you must be aware of how diet and exercise can affect you and your breast milk.

Nutrition

Nutrition while breast feeding does not dramatically differ from nutrition while you were pregnant. You should always continue to take your prenatal vitamins, as they will assure that you are supplying all of the necessary vitamins and minerals to your newborn baby. The best way to assure your adequate nutrition, is to eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups. Staying hydrated is also important and includes drinking six to eight cups of water, juice or milk per day. Try to drink only small amounts of caffeinated beverages.

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Diet

According to "The Breastfeeding Book" by Martha Sears, R.N and William Sears, M.D., the best way to lose weight is not necessarily by cutting calories. Sears and Sears recommend altering your diet to include nutrient dense foods. These foods are those that contain large amounts of nutrition in a small amount of calories like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You should also decrease fat in your diet by eating low fat or no fat versions of foods like low fat yogurt or skim milk. Finally, try filling up with fiber. Fiber can satiate you without a lot of calories and usually high fiber foods are also high in nutrition.

Exercise

When you are trying to lose weight and feel better about yourself, exercise is a must. Regular exercise can help reduce new mother fatigue, improve your mood and increase your health. Exercising with a baby is hard to do, but just 30 minutes per day of some activity is a good way to start. You can take your new baby for a brisk walk, dance to music with her, or play with her while you exercise. You and your baby might grow to enjoy this time together.

Considerations

If you are looking to lose your baby weight, diet and exercise are the only way to do it. Most post partum weight loss programs that leave you hungry and inactive are not effective in the long term. La Leche League International warns that drastic, fast drops in weight loss can negatively affect your milk supply. Certain diets, like those that increase protein and limit carbohydrates, can be harmful because of contaminants that may enter your milk supply due to your changing metabolism. Always aim for a safe weight loss of about one pound per week, incorporating both nutrition and exercise into your program.

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References

  • "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy"; Roger W. Harms, M.D.; 2004
  • "The Breastfeeding Book"; Martha Sears, R.N. and William Sears, M.D.; 2000
  • "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding"; La Leche League International; 2004
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