Right after you have a baby, the last thing you feel like doing (or should be doing) is getting up to exercise. Fortunately, if you breastfeed, your body is willing to do some of the work for you. Breastfeeding is hard work. Many women want to know, “How many calories do you burn breastfeeding?”
How Many Calories Do You Burn Breastfeeding?
Although the amount varies for each woman, the average is around 500 calories a day. The number depends on how frequently you’re nursing, whether you’re supplementing with formula, and how much milk your body produces.
While burning 500 calories when breastfeeding sounds like a lot, it’s important to keep in mind that you need to be bringing in extra calories before you can burn them, just like when you were pregnant. The average nursing mom should be taking in about 500 extra calories a day. No cutting corners: The fewer calories you put into your body, the lower your milk supply.
Don’t Fret at First
The important thing to remember is not to fret over losing the baby weight right away. Your body is readjusting after a major change, both hormonally and physically. It’s more important to rest in the early months. La Leche League recommends waiting at least 2 months postpartum to begin dedicated exercising routines. As your baby grows, you’ll have plenty more time and energy to exercise, shed the rest of that baby fat, and get used to your new post-baby body.
Another perk for nursing moms is that breastfeeding shrinks your uterus back into shape, so that baby pooch should disappear faster than it would if you were bottle-feeding. Your body is willing to do the early work, so take care of it well and let it do its job.
And the longer you breastfeed, the more potential you have for “effortlessly” losing weight. Women who breastfeed with no supplementation for longer than 3 months lose more weight than those who do not breastfeed or who supplement with formula. You may even continue losing weight if you breastfeed for 4 to 6 months and beyond.
What About Pumping?
If you’re wondering whether pumping breast milk, either manually or electronically, will still burn calories, the answer is yes. However, most women find that they don’t produce as much breast milk for a machine as they do for their baby. So you will burn calories while pumping breast milk, but it may require twice the effort.