how to lose weight while breastfeeding

Women truly go through a lot – menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and the postpartum days. We all know pregnancy comes with a lot of changes, both psychologically and physically. Shedding weight after childbirth can be extremely difficult, particularly if you're breastfeeding, as it demands you to eat healthy to maintain your milk supply. Now, you're probably wondering how to lose weight while breastfeeding. 

Here's an interesting fact: Breastfeeding can make you lose weight – naturally. Yes, it's true. Our bodies don't function the same way they would in a calculus class, particularly when hormones are involved. After childbirth, it's natural to retain some pregnancy weight. Initially, a significant amount of weight loss occurs due to the baby's birth, loss of amniotic fluid, and other factors. 

Keep reading as we explain how to lose weight while breastfeeding your newborn, along with some useful tips. 

The Science Behind Breastfeeding And Weight Loss

Nearly 90% of women face unexpected weight gain postpartum and during breastfeeding. And most of them lose around 10-15 pounds in the first six weeks postpartum. Since it takes energy to produce milk, you end up burning more calories. Your body will need more food to meet its needs if you're not consuming enough nutrient-dense, high-protein foods. 

When you breastfeed, your body uses the fat cells you stored throughout pregnancy together with the energy from your food to produce milk. The additional calories you take in during nursing are also expended in the production of milk. Breastfeeding is thought to burn an additional 500 calories per day, which needs to be made up for with a nutritious diet and moderate activity. 

Why Do Women Gain Weight During Breastfeeding? 

As said, the majority of women lose half of their baby weight by six weeks postpartum; the remaining weight is often lost gradually over the following few months. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), breastfeeding can make it easier to lose the weight you gained during pregnancy. 

Here are the reasons why you're not losing weight:

  • You're eating two meals for two! 
  • You're always hungry.
  • You're sleep-deprived. Not getting enough sleep. 
  • Hormonal imbalance (Prolactin) 
  • You're stressed about every little thing. 

How To Lose Weight While Breastfeeding?

The truth is we all want to lose our pregnancy weight after having babies.  However, you must reduce weight in a healthy way in order to prevent your milk supply from gradually dropping. 

Here are some of the weight loss tips you can consider: 

Tip #1 – Increase your fruit and vegetable intake. 

You likely already knew this, but breastfeeding increases your appetite significantly! (And it keeps you incredibly hungry.) Even though breastfeeding makes you hungry, it's not an excuse to gorge yourself on unhealthy foods like burgers and pizzas. Your daily calorie intake should be mostly composed of fruits and vegetables. Eat as much diversity as you can, trying to consume every hue in the rainbow. Healthy snacks are also options to shed extra pounds. 

Make an effort to consume fewer foods that are high in fat, sugar, or empty calories. Foods high in protein are particularly beneficial since they prolong feelings of fullness. For example, eat leafy greens and protein-rich foods like nuts, seeds, yogurt, quinoa, and brown rice. Eat more apples, oranges, papayas, and other high-carb fruits from the fruit categories. Also, focus on iron-rich foods such as spinach, beef, lentils, and black beans. Try to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to keep your energy up and avoid overeating. 

Tip #2 – Drink plenty of water. 

Everyone knows that hydration is key to losing weight. But did you also know that breast milk is about 90% water? But that doesn't mean you have to keep chugging water to stay fit. Also, drinking extra water won't produce excess milk either. Keep a bottle with you all the time and drink whenever you feel thirsty. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. Herbal teas and soups can also help keep you hydrated. 

Keep an eye on your urine color and make sure it's not too dark. If you notice something like this, consult your doctor immediately. 

Tip #3 – Exercise regularly

This is obviously the only thing that comes to our mind in terms of weight loss tips.  Doing workouts during post-delivery is a must for weight loss. However, you need to wait for about six to eight weeks before you get into a proper exercise routine. But don't forget to check with your doctor before starting something rigorous. Also, keep in mind to take a healthy carb an hour before exercising. This can ensure your milk supply is not reduced. 

Start with gentle exercises like walking, postpartum yoga, or stretching. Increase the intensity as you feel stronger. You can also do pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your core. Make sure you aren't overdoing it by never pushing yourself too hard and by discussing your workout routine with your healthcare professional. 

Some of the common exercises you can do at home are:

  • Wall planks
  • Cats/cows exercise
  • Walking
  • Swimming 
  • Indoor yoga

There are countless alternatives!  You can exercise with anything that you enjoy doing inherently. 

Tip #4 Lift weight if you can

This is not mandatory, but lifting weights helps a lot in shedding extra pounds. Just take dumbbells and start lifting at your home. Or you can head to the nearest gym and get help from trainers. But don't do strenuous exercises. Ask your doctor if it's safe for you to lift.  You do not have to “bulk up” to reap the benefits of weight training. Building muscle mass burns more calories, even when at rest. Building overall strength is also beneficial when carrying a baby.

Exercise with less weight yields the same results in terms of muscle growth as does heavy weight training, but it also reduces the risk of injury. When doing resistance training, use light weights or elastic bands and work out at high-intensity intervals.

Tip #5 – Avoid alcohol and limit sugary stuff.

Snacks, baked goods, or sodas can increase your calorie intake without providing enough proteins, carbs, and healthy fats to fuel your body. So avoid sugary foods and drinks. Go for water, electrolyte drinks, or foods that don't have added sugar.  Alcohol is another beverage you should avoid at all costs. Because alcohol contains a lot of empty calories, you'll be eating calories that aren't really helping your body function. 

Eating well not only helps people lose weight but also makes breast milk more nutrient-dense. Junk food and fast food like burgers provide you with empty calories that won't give you the sustained energy you need to take care of yourself and your baby.

Tip #6 – Get enough rest and sleep. 

Exercise is indeed a great way to support your health and weight loss goals, and it should always be accompanied by appropriate rest and recovery time. Even though it could be difficult for you to catch up on sleep, especially if you're getting up frequently to breastfeed, try your best to get enough sleep and give yourself plenty of time to unwind. 

Make an effort to sleep as much as you can. You might lose weight more quickly, and your body will heal more quickly as a result. 

Lastly, don't be discouraged. Weight loss is not a linear process. Some women may lose weight faster, while others take time. So, don't compare yourself with other women. If something is not working out for you, modify your lifestyle a bit! 

How Much Weight Can I Expect To Lose During Breastfeeding? 

If you are nursing, losing 2 kgs per month is a safe and healthy amount of weight to lose. It's crucial to avoid being overly obsessed with the scale, so try not to weigh yourself too frequently. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat and that your weight varies with the season, the time of day, and the amount of food you consume. So, aim to lose about 1-2 pounds a week. Losing weight too fast can affect your milk supply and health. 

Is It Safe To Restrict Calories While Breastfeeding?

While nursing your newborn, make sure you're getting at least 1,800 calories each day—regardless of whether you're attempting to lose weight. Exercise can be included in your diet once your doctor gives the all-clear. The average time frame for most women is six weeks following delivery; however, this could take longer if you had a C-section or experienced other difficulties.

The Bottom Line

You’re now well-equipped with how to lose weight while breastfeeding your newborn. Weight loss is common during breastfeeding. So don't rush. If you follow the above tips, you can go back to your old fit body or even better and healthier. Eat a balanced diet, stay hydrated, exercise gradually, and get enough rest. Consult healthcare professionals if needed, and celebrate your progress along the way. 

A word of advice for new mothers: Breastfeeding is a time to cherish the bond with your baby and nurture your own health. It is important for your newborn baby; focus on that instead of worrying about your weight! Your postpartum body is a reminder you just did something incredible! 


1. Is it normal to lose weight while breastfeeding? 

Ans: Yes, breastfeeding makes one’s body burn calories, which helps you shed extra pregnancy weight. Gradually, you will be astonished at how much weight you lose naturally while breastfeeding.

2. Why am I gaining weight while breastfeeding? 

Ans: Most breastfeeding mums are tired and stressed, which can lead to comfort eating. Feeling like you want to eat more and comfort eating could mean you're gaining weight. Moreover, high levels of prolactin (the hormone involved in milk production) may have been linked to increased appetite and food intake. 

3. What is the fastest way to lose weight while breastfeeding?

Ans: The fastest ways to lose weight while breastfeeding are to exercise, sleep well, and eat healthy foods. 

4. Does pumping burn as many calories as breastfeeding? 

Ans: Yes, since pumping is quite similar to a baby sucking at the breast, a woman’s body responds similarly in terms of metabolic response. However, breastfeeding tends to be more effective at burning calories. 

5. What is the best diet for breastfeeding moms?

Ans: The best diet for breastfeeding should include eggs, seeds, leafy greens, fruits, healthy fats, smoothies, 

6. Will you lose weight if you stop breastfeeding? 

Ans: Not necessarily. Many women don't lose weight until they completely stop breastfeeding. 

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Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

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