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Do You Really Lose Weight from Breast-feeding?

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Weight Loss related image Photo: Getty Images

I was a new Mom. My baby was about five weeks old and I was sitting on my couch while in the middle of my nonstop breast-feeding schedule. With my free hand, I reached over and leaned toward the side of the cushion where the remote control had been left the night before.

As my baby gulped greedily, I flipped through the channels until I saw a famous actress on a talk show. She was talking about her newborn baby. He was not much older than mine. She glowed with radiance on the screen - shiny hair, flawless skin, designer clothes and a figure that didn’t look like she ever had a baby. As I stopped watching to switch sides, I adjusted my own bulky, oversized shirt over my belly that seemed to show a great deal of evidence it had once housed a developing infant.

How did she look so good? My eyes were drawn back to the screen as I longed to know her secret. When she was finally asked that question, her answer was breast-feeding. I hit the mute button with disgust. Breast-feeding, sure. I think she forgot to mention the private chef, nannies to watch her baby while she works out, and the personal trainers that make sure she reaches her goals for upcoming movie roles. Did she lie? Does breast-feeding really help you to lose the baby weight?

Breast-feeding requires a mother to intake extra calories and nutrients. Those things are passed along to the baby, which is why the food choices made while nursing are just as important as the ones made when pregnant. Many things can factor into the ability and speed of losing the baby weight. A woman who puts on more weight while pregnant may experience a harder time losing it once the baby arrives. Age can be a factor, along with the amount of exercise you get and the kinds of foods that you are eating. If it is your first child versus your fourth child, this may also be a contributing factor in the “losing-the-baby-weight game.”

In the book "Nutrition during Lactation" by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, it suggests that most women do lose weight gradually during lactation. However, it was noted by one study that 22 percent of women actually experienced weight gain. The authors of this study concluded that breastfeeding alone does not guarantee weight loss. (ivillage.com)

Words of wisdom from a supportive and dear friend: “It took ten months for you to gain the weight, give yourself at least the same time to take it off. And simply enjoy being a Mom in the meantime.”

Edited by Kate Kunkel

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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