Not long before I had my son, I took some time to have conversations with eleven new moms who had dealt with something that I was about to face myself – losing the baby weight. I asked them questions on how they managed their new reality of having no time AND how they dealt with the potential of losing themselves in being Moms.
I did the research to be able to help these amazing women better in my coaching practice, but also to help myself. You see, I was weeks away from meeting my son and I had already surpassed the maximum recommended weight gain level of 15 kg for pregnancy. I intended to keep working full time and running my Coaching business on the side and I didn’t want to sacrifice the joy that I had come to cherish in my marriage and of course I didn’t want to lose myself.
So I wanted to tap into the wisdom of the women who had navigated this before me even as I created a product that would help them (and future me) regain our pre-baby sexy back? The product is still in the works, but today I want to clarify the top misconceptions that I learned from these amazing women about breastfeeding and weight loss.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’m NOT a Lactation Consultant or a Doctor. But I’m putting the lessons I learned from the numerous classes I took on the subject breastfeeding, my interaction with lactation consultants to handle my personal breastfeeding struggles, and my training as a Coach. So let’s go.
Misconception #1: You Shouldn’t Diet While Breastfeeding
This is technically true, but it’s not dieting to lose weight that’s the issue. The real issue is using highly restrictive diets while breastfeeding. Think about it – You’re responsible for the nutrition of a whole nother human being and restricting your nutrients drastically will have implications for how you feel and whether or not you’re able to have the breastfeeding relationship that you want with your child. This means that you should strongly consider taking any diet that will severely restrict your calories or ask you to cut out entire food groups completely off the table. At least until you’re ready to wean your baby.
Misconception #2: You Should Wait Till You Stop Breastfeeding to Lose Weight
This is false. While you don’t want to go on a restrictive diet, not dieting doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight. When you’re pregnant, you gain weight to give your body the raw material to make milk. And when the baby comes, your body uses the fat that you gained to make milk. Now while you shouldn’t go on a diet, you can still lose weight if you eat high quality foods that help you manage hunger even if you’re eating fewer calories. When I say high quality foods, I mean minimizing processed calories and eating whole foods – think loads of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. I know it sounds like a cliche, but eating healthy whole foods will help you lose weight because you don’t have to eat as much of these foods to get the same satisfaction.
Misconception #3: You Must Eat Plenty of Food to Make Milk
This is mostly false. This misconception isn’t so far-fetched right? After all you’re making food for a baby, so it follows that you should eat more. The trick isn’t eating more, rather it’s eating enough. One of the first things I learned is that milk supply isn’t as related to how much you eat that we think. If you severely restrict your calories, it will have a negative impact because your body will prioritize keeping you alive over making milk. But if you’re eating high quality whole foods in moderate amounts, you can maintain your milk supply if one other variable is controlled – how often your baby eats.
The trick with milk supply isn’t how much you eat (as far as you’re eating enough), but how much your baby eats. Milk supply is literally driven by demand and the words “eight or more in 24” were drilled into our brains in each breastfeeding class my husband and I went to. When your baby eats enough each day, he’s placing an order telling your body to make more for the future. So if you want to keep up your supply, feed your baby on demand.
Following this single rule for the first six weeks of Riley’s life helped us establish a milk supply that has survived through two week-long trips away from home without the baby and weight loss with healthy eating. And as he approaches a year, we’re still going strong. So if you take anything away from this article, it’s that you don’t have to overeat to make milk. You just need to eat enough high quality foods and feed your baby often enough.
Today I want you to take a good look at how you’re eating to support breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is hungry work, but eating the right quality of foods can help you manage that hunger while losing weight at a safe pace for your body.
So ask yourself, are you eating enough non-starchy Vegetables, Fruits, Animal & Plant Protein, and starchy vegetables/whole grains? If not, it’s definitely time to revisit.
If you’re uncertain where to start, feel free to check out my Free Quick Guide to Start Losing Weight Today. It doesn’t teach any specific diet. Instead it teaches you the four types of foods to include in a healthy diet that supports weight loss. And it’s the same method of eating that I used to lose my baby weight within 9 months.
Photo Credit: Foto.com.ng | Nsoedo Frank