Losing the weight gained during pregnancy is a concern for many new mothers, especially when the weight seems to come off slowly, even with a healthy diet and exercise. Breast milk is the best nourishment for your baby, and breastfeeding can help you lose weight more quickly as well. How quickly you'll see the pounds dropping on the scale depends on several factors, and you should discuss your post-pregnancy weight loss concerns with your doctor if you're not losing weight.
You'll likely start losing a little weight right after giving birth, especially if you're breastfeeding. In the first few weeks, most of the weight you'll lose will be from fluids. Fat loss doesn't typically start until at least 2 weeks after you give birth. While you can lose several pounds in a month, most breastfeeding mothers lose between 1 and 2 lbs. per week, which is a healthy rate of weight loss for most people. It can take 10 to 12 months or even longer to return to your pre-pregnancy weight, according to lactation consultant Susan Condon.
Most breastfeeding women should consume at least 1,800 calories per day to support their body's requirements and keep producing milk at a healthy rate. The average woman burns about 500 calories per day from milk production, according to pediatrician Joan Meek. The body dips into the fatty tissue put on during pregnancy for energy to produce more milk after nursing or pumping. The amount of calories you'll burn depends on how much milk you're producing, so your own number could be more or less than the average, making you lose weight at a faster or slower pace.
Combining moderate exercise at least three times a week with a healthy eating plan can help you see weight loss results more quickly when you're breastfeeding. Feeding your baby breast milk as often as possible also helps speed up results since your body will burn calories to produce more milk every time you nurse. Longer nursing sessions also help burn more calories than feeding more often during short sessions that last only a few minutes. While altering your nursing habits can affect the speed of your weight loss, you should focus on doing what is best for you and your baby by following a feeding schedule that leaves you both satisfied.
Do not lower your daily caloric intake to less than 1,500 calories when you're breastfeeding. While restricting your calories drastically will help you shed pounds at a faster rate, it could negatively affect your milk production and release toxins into your blood that get into your breast milk and are passed on to your baby. If you're dropping more than 1.5 lbs. per week after the first six weeks of breastfeeding, you're probably losing too fast and need to consume more calories to keep yourself and your milk supply healthy.