In general, your diet is important for your own health and energy levels, rather than affecting your breastmilk and your baby. Even in countries where food is scarce, mothers are able to breastfeed and their babies thrive. However, there are a few nutrients a baby needs that may be affected if the mother’s intake is too low, such as iodine and vitamin B12.
You tend to gain a lot of weight during pregnancy. That is quite normal. A majority of this weight that you have gained is lost at the time of delivery. There is still some excess weight left on your body. Moreover, some women may actually gain an excess of the weight actually required by women during pregnancy. The shedding of that weight is something that always worries you. It leaves you embarrassed. Yes, it would take you a long time but it is not impossible and one of the ways that nature itself provides you with is ‘Breastfeeding’, leading to a linkage in between breastfeeding and weight loss.
Cut calories — but not too much
It’s perfectly safe to diet while breastfeeding, as long as your total caloric intake doesn’t dip below 1,800 calories per day and you keep eating a wide variety of nutritious foods.
Your body requires about 200 to 500 calories to produce milk which the baby requires. In fact, this is the reason why your body stores all that fat during your pregnancy – so that there is enough of fuel available for the production of milk by your body at the time of breastfeeding.
Hence, breastfeeding helps in burning of calories. Studies conducted does prove that a woman burns approximately 650 calories while breastfeeding her child – that’s a huge amount! In fact, this is the amount of calories you would lose only after an aerobic session of 2 hours.
Making breastmilk uses extra fluid, so breastfeeding mothers are often more thirsty than usual. There is no one figure for how much you need to drink, as it depends on the weather conditions, your activity level and the foods you eat. Be guided by your thirst; don’t be tempted to ignore it because you are busy.
It would take approximately a year for your body to come back to its pre-pregnancy shape. This would involve the shrinking of the uterus back to its normal size and shedding that extra weight. Make sure that your weight loss regime works slowly – losing one pound in a week is just right.
A drastic loss of weight could adversely affect you and your child as it could make you feel hungry constantly. You would even feel tired. Moreover, it could even interfere with the production and supply of milk to your child.
Plan a well balanced diet which is low in calories. Including a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables would be helpful as it would help in giving your body the appropriate amount nutrients it requires. Do not forget including a lot of whole grains and proteins too.
Exercise in moderation. A walk with your child is one such thing that can help in maintaining your health and also shedding that extra weight. Bear in mind that if you decide to substitute breast milk with formula milk it would only cause you harm.