Many new mothers feel pressured to lose weight and get back to their pre-pregnancy figure while they are still breastfeeding. However, it is more important for you to eat a healthy, nutritious diet than keep an eye on the scale. If you do want to get fit, aim at losing no more than half a kilogram per week. This ensures that your breast milk supply is not impacted and you can continue nursing your baby.
Breastfeeding and weight loss
One of the reasons mothers are told to nurse their babies is because breastfeeding burns a lot of calories. This can amount to anywhere between 500 and 700 calories per day. However, this alone is not enough to lose weight as lactating mothers must increase their calorie consumption to produce sufficient breast milk. Ideally, you should be consuming at least 500 calories more than you were pre-pregnancy. So, what can you do? Here are a few tips.
Keeping your body hydrated is very important when it comes to healthy weight loss. Drinking water through the day helps satiate hunger pangs and keeps you from snacking between meals. It also contributes to better digestion, body temperature regulation and breast milk production. You should aim at drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day. If the taste of water is not appealing enough, you could infuse it with herbs and fruits. Do not include caffeinated drinks, sodas and packaged juices in your daily hydration quota.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of essential vitamins and minerals but have a low calorific value. Hence, they should make up a large percentage of your daily meals. You can also snack on raw fruits and vegetables between meals. Since fibre is a major component of these foods, they keep you satiated for longer and help improve digestion. A fruit smoothie is a great way to start the day!
Eat smaller meals more frequently
Never skip meals in an attempt to lose weight. Skipping meals slows down your metabolism and can make you feel lethargic. Instead of helping you lose weight, this can be counterproductive. Hence, try having smaller meals more frequently. You can eat a small plate every 2 hours instead of a heavy lunch and dinner. This gives your body time to metabolize the food being eaten and reduces the amount of fat deposited.
In addition to maintaining control over your diet, you will also need to exercise for healthy weight loss. Start by going for a walk. You don’t really need to start running long distances or take up a gym membership. Extreme exercising can in fact be harmful to your health at this time.
So, be careful. Make sure you speak to your doctor before starting any kind of exercise routine. Once you have the doctor’s approval, aim for 15-20 minutes of light cardio exercises that pump up blood circulation. You can also try free-weight bearing exercises to strengthen your bones and muscles. Yoga can also be helpful in toning your muscles. However, always remember to stop the minute you feel tired.
Get enough rest
It can be difficult to get a full night’s sleep when you have an infant to care for but this is critical to your physical and mental health. When you sleep, your muscles get a chance to recover. Also, when you sleep, your blood pressure is regularized, your heart rate stabilizes and your internal organs get an increased blood supply.
Sleep deprived moms often tend to overeat and hence, getting adequate rest can also help with weight management while breastfeeding. If your baby isn’t sleeping through the night, make sure you nap while they do.
Most importantly, be kind to your body while you are breastfeeding. It is more important to be able to provide an adequate supply of nutritious breastmilk than to look slim. Acknowledge that every woman’s body is different and don’t compare yourself to others. Ease into your new routine gradually and focus on staying active and happy.