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Does breastfeeding help you lose weight?

Breastfeeding burns calories which can help you lose weight. However, nursing also increases appetite. New mums need to consider what they eat when they’re hungry. If they stock up on carbohydrates while breastfeeding, they will be less likely to lose weight. The best approach is a balanced, healthy diet.

Breastfeeding and weight

Many mums worry about weight gain during pregnancy. The body stores up fat supplies over the course of a pregnancy. This is to support breastfeeding and ensure you can produce enough milk to feed your baby.

Once your baby arrives, breastfeeding burns extra calories. This helps to reduce the extra pregnancy weight while maintaining milk supplies.

However, many breastfeeding mums struggle to lose the extra weight as nursing also increases appetite. The combination of a hungry baby and sleepless nights often means that new mums crave calorie-rich carbohydrates and sweet treats. This makes it difficult to shift weight if you’re compensating with extra calories.

A healthy approach

Instead of focussing on weight loss consider your overall wellbeing.

It isn’t necessary to overhaul your diet when you’re breastfeeding but simple changes can make a big difference.

Your baby will gain all of their nutritional needs from breastmilk whether you’re hitting your dietary targets or not but a healthy approach is beneficial for both of you.

Eating small meals, supplemented with snacks is a good start but give your body a boost with these simple steps:

  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t aim to suddenly drop the weight, this will affect your milk supply. Employ a slow and steady approach. Combine a healthy diet with exercise and give yourself time to reach your target.
  • Choose a variety of foods. Not only will this make mealtimes more appealing but it will help stop you reaching for the chocolate. Aim for a mix of protein, fat and carbohydrates, which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Drink wisely. It’s important to stay hydrated with plenty of water and limit your caffeine intake. Reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol enters your milk supply and can affect production and the amount of milk your baby consumes.

For more advice on breastfeeding, contact your GP or local support centre.

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