Pumping Breast Milk and Weight Loss

During pregnancy women gain weight, which they can later use for breast milk production after giving birth, according to La Leche League International. Breast-feeding, or pumping in a way to simulate breast-feeding, can help you lose weight faster due to the extra calories your body uses to produce breast milk. A mother who does not breast-feed must rely on diet and exercise to lose weight.

A mother and her newborn baby. (Image: Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Caloric Needs

To produce breast milk, your body will use an extra 500 to 700 calories each day, according to Baby Center. A woman should consume between 2,000 and 2,700 calories each day while breast-feeding or pumping. Avoid counting calories though. Instead, eat a healthy meal or snack each time you feel hungry. Your body will guide you to consume the proper number of calories. If you fail to lose weight by following your hunger, you may need to work with your physician to develop a healthy diet plan that will work for you.

Fad Diets

Fad diets often require you to limit your calorie intake dramatically. However, losing weight quickly while you pump or breast-feed can cause toxins, such as PCBs and pesticides, to enter your milk supply, explains Susan Condon, a lactation consultant at Baby Center. Your body often stores these toxins in body fat and releases them when the body breaks down fat. Aim to lose less than 1.5 lbs. a week. Never consume fewer than 1,200 calories each day while pumping or breast-feeding, advises Dr. Abaz Sosic, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Bradford, Pennsylvania.

Healthy Diet

While pumping or breast-feeding, your daily food requirements include five servings of vegetables and fruits, three servings of low-fat milk or other low-fat dairy, three to four servings of whole grain or enriched breads and cereal and three to four servings of protein-rich foods, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Drink milk or water when you feel thirsty to keep your body from dehydrating. Limit your intake of caffeine to less than four servings a day and avoid drinking alcohol. Also avoid high-calorie, high-fat foods such as chips and cookies, which only add extra calories to your diet without much nutritional value.

Physical Activity

Exercise can increase your energy level and improve your health. Even moderate increases in your physical activity level will help you burn extra calories and increase your weight loss potential. However, too much exercise or extremely strenuous exercise can cause lactic acid to enter your milk supply, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. When you offer a baby pumped milk containing lactic acid, she may refuse to drink it. Pump prior to exercise to reduce the amount of lactic acid in your milk.


Do not try to lose weight during the first two months after delivering your baby, advises Sosic. During this time, your body needs to recover from giving birth and develop a good milk supply. Mothers who breast-feed or pump regularly usually lose weight during this period by eating their normal diet. Reducing your caloric intake or exercising excessively during this time can delay your recovery or reduce your milk supply.

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