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The Skinny on Nursing: Will Breastfeeding Make You Lose Weight?


The Skinny on Nursing: Will Breastfeeding Make You Lose Weight?

Breastfeeding is frequently touted as a weight loss aide, but countless moms in Circle of Moms communities say it just didn’t happen that way for them. Are the weight loss benefits of breastfeeding a myth?

Not exactly.

Some women do lose weight while breastfeeding, because breastfeeding burns extra calories. Melanie M. found the weight melted right off: “I gained 70 pounds during my pregnancy, and I lost 60 pounds by the time my son was 4 months old!" Tracey G. also lost weight easily while breastfeeding: "I've been breastfeeding for 5 months now. Lost a total of 50 pounds...I love it. I call it the easiest workout ever!"

This weight loss, however, is not universal. Other women say that while they quickly lose significant weight in the few months after giving birth, the last pounds stubbornly refuse to melt. Melissa H. shares: “I'm still holding on to 15 pounds that just won't budge! I don't really eat [poorly] and I even exercise...my body is just holding onto it, I guess to help me make better milk!"

Many women share Melissa's experience, finding that they carry some extra weight until they begin weaning. Kim S. explains: “While nursing helps you shed the first pounds faster, your body will hang on to the last 10-15 pounds. Your body is doing this in case you can't find food and start to starve. It will come off after you stop nursing.”

What can you do if you’re stuck with stubborn pounds? As hard as it is to be patient with your post-partum body, experts often advise waiting until the third month to make an effort to lose weight, and to then take a gradual approach. One of the most popular programs touted by Circle of Moms members is Weight Watchers for nursing moms. As Jennifer B. shared: “If you're getting frustrated, I would encourage you to check Weight Watchers online. I actually did it for about 3 months (while nursing) to help lose pregnancy weight and it totally worked!...It's very safe for nursing moms to try!!!”

Above all, don't feel discouraged if breastfeeding doesn't melt off the baby weight. As Beth M. wisely advises: “I've nursed 3 children now, and not once did breastfeeding help me lose weight…Don't feel bad about yourself if you are not losing weight. As long as you are maintaining your weight, eating a nutrient-dense balanced diet, and are getting 30 minutes of exercise a day (or 2.5-3 hours each week), then you are fine. And if anyone tells you any differently, just thumb your nose at them. This isn't a popularity or beauty contest. The real beauty is that you CHOSE to breastfeed and CAN.”

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