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Disclaimer: The information in this post is for educational purposes only. I am not a doctor. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

Breastfeeding and Weight Loss Questions Answered

Breastfeeding and weight loss – what is the best way to lose weight while breastfeeding? And how long will it take?

Breastfeeding and Weight Loss -   #nursing #exercise #diet #caloriesIt’s difficult to avoid social pressure to lose your baby weight in “x” amount of time. How many times have you seen grocery store line tabloids ranting about how so and so has a baby bump and MUST be expecting even though they are only a few months postpartum?

It didn’t even take 5 months for the rumor mill to start penning headlines about the Duchess of Cambridge’s lithe figure betraying the growth of a new little one!! It may come as a shock to them, but sometimes it takes a bit for that weight to come off – even with all the money in the world to spend on dieticians and personal trainers! Actually, I’m sure they are well aware of that but are just preying on our desire for celebrity news.

Unfortunately, we have convinced ourselves that is is unusual for a woman to still show evidence of pregnancy just a few months postpartum, and the ramifications of measures taken to lose that weight can be detrimental to breastfeeding (and sanity, for that matter).

Here’s the bad news:  Your postpartum body will NOT look the same as your pre-baby body. At least not for a while. Maybe never.

Here’s the good news: Breastfeeding potentially speeds up weight loss for women who nurse exclusively for at least the first six months.

Exercising and dieting too early will not only put undue stress on your body, it may actually hinder your body’s ability to maintain an adequate milk supply! A recent chat with a woman in the grocery store reminded me of the many times I’ve seen a mother’s supply take a dive after too much stress. This young mother, pregnant with her second child, lamented to me that she was so focused on losing her baby weight asap with her first that she started regular intensive exercise at 6 weeks postpartum. Her milk production dropped almost immediately but it wasn’t until much later that she realized she’d probably over-done it. No one advised her differently. She switched her baby to formula for fear that she wasn’t making enough (which is probably true, though likely reversible).

This mama would have benefited from an accurate understanding of what weight loss usually looks like postpartum. Perhaps she would have had a few more months of baby belly, and a LOT more months of breastfeeding.

What to expect with breastfeeding and weight loss

Your baby weight may melt right off like magic! However, some women do not lose their baby weight until they stop nursing – their body keeps a safety buffer of fat to protect milk supply or to protect mama’s body as it recovers. Hormones may also influence weight loss. If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, adrenal fatigue, or thyroid issues, you may find that you lose weight slower than others. One thing at a time. Focus on health, recovery, and THEN weight loss.

What not to do with dieting

This is not the time to restrict calories or experiment with fasting! Your body is remarkable and can support your baby with milk even while you are ill, recovering from birth, and/or getting little sleep! It’s still a lot for a body to handle, though! Without adequate hydration and nutrition, your body will not be able to supply enough milk for your baby. Plain and simple. You should wait at least two months (much longer if you are able, in my opinion!) before worrying about changing your diet if you have already been eating healthfully.

What not to do with exercising

Don’t wear yourself out! If you’ve been an exercise junkie in the past, it may be difficult to resist, but you’ll have to watch yourself closely during these early days. Respect the healing and change that is going on in your body after birth, as well as the ongoing miracle of breast milk production! If all is going well and you feel recovered enough to get active, start with taking a walk with your baby. Stop when you get tired and rest afterward. As the days pass, you can add more in gradually, but be mindful of your supply. If you or baby seems dehydrated, scale back!
Also, NO CRUNCHES! Protect your tummy during exercise and every day activity. If you are unfamiliar with diastasis recti (separation of your tummy muscles), check yourself before you begin an exercise routine.

What CAN I do?

  • Low impact exercises that respect your core muscles and relaxen-affected joints. (walking is your best friend right now)
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Eat healthy foods with plenty of fat and protein.
  • Eat when hungry! You may need 500+ more calories each day of REAL FOOD (no junk)!
  • Enjoy fruits and vegetables as snacks for hydration and metabolism-boosting nutrients.
  • Decrease your caloric intake GRADUALLY if you have reached a weight loss plateau.
  • Get plenty of sleep (haha!).
  • Carry your baby.
  • Use good posture.
  • Examine yourself for diastasis recti (it may not be extra weight/fat, it might be an injury causing your tummy to bulge!).
  • Be patient and give yourself grace.

More resources:


  • Real Food for Mother and Baby – Nina Plank
  • Lose Your Mummy Tummy – Julie Tupler
  • Maternal Fitness – Julie Tupler


What questions about breastfeeding and weight loss do you have?

Anjanette Barr is wife to a librarian and mom of four living in Juneau, Alaska and loving the life God has blessed her with. Her days are filled with lots of silly antics and laughter, mountains of laundry, and more love than she could ever hope for or deserve. She blogs at Find her also on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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