Choosing to breastfeed is a very personal choice for a mom. There are many more factors that need to be considered along with what’s best for baby like what’s going on with her own body as well as her lifestyle. If your expecting or recently postpartum, you’ve probably heard somewhere along the way that breastfeeding does wonders for a mom’s waistline.
For some moms who decide to breastfeed, the weight does seem to come off more easily for them while for other moms…not so much. So if you happen to be a mom who is breastfeeding and can’t seem to get off any of the baby weight…I want you to take a big deep breath and realize that this is perfectly normal, and let’s talk about why this happens, and then we’ll talk about some strategies you can implement to help kick start some fat loss.
3 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
In general, many people fail to realize the HUGE role that hormones play in everything including fat loss…especially while a woman is breastfeeding or experiencing menopause.
1. Hormones: When you’re breastfeeding (and not having your monthly cycle) your estrogen and progesterone are typically low. This causes problems for those who want to shed some fat because low estrogen can slow down our metabolism making it harder for us to drop the baby weight. The combination of low estrogen and progesterone makes us a lot more sensitive to sugar and carbohydrates not only causing us to crave these foods even more, but also making our bodies more insulin sensitive when we eat sugar and carbohydrates. This combination makes it that much harder to try and lose some of the baby weight, especially around the midsection.
2. Adrenal Function: All of those around the clock feedings pave the way for a very sleep deprived and tired mama! The lack of sleep combined with low estrogen and progesterone levels and the process of learning to adjust to this new way of life with baby can create a VERY stressful experience for mom thus ramping up her stress levels. To make matters worse, all of this stress causes her body to increase cortisol production which in turn causes mom’s adrenal glands to have to work overtime oftentimes leading to weight loss resistance.
3. Not Eating Enough or Nutrition Deficiencies: Most of a woman’s breast milk is made up of fat, so in turn, a nursing mom’s body needs more fat. Most moms simply aren’t getting enough quality food in while breastfeeding because it demands so much of your time and attention. And we all know, or should know by now, that is you aren’t eating enough that sends a signal to your brain to tell your body to hold on to your fat stores. This is your body’s way of protecting you and your baby from starvation. So, the moral of the story is that you have to fuel your body with the right amount and kinds of foods in order to switch it from fight or flight mode into rest, recovery, and fat release mode.
8 Tips to Help Improve Your Hormonal Imbalance
1. Those extra 500 calories allotted for breastfeeding moms shouldn’t be used for an excuse to ALWAYS eat those not so good foods for you. Choose to eat better foods like more protein, lots of veggies, and healthy fats instead of the daily bowls of ice cream, cake, muffins, donuts, etc.
2. Don’t focus on slashing or restricting calories, your main job really is to nurture your baby. Choose to focus on better foods like I mentioned above and move as much as you can.
3. Your time is limited so be smart about your workout choices. Some good ways to sneak in some exercise are to walk while baby naps in the stroller, or sneak in a short metabolic circuit at home while the baby naps, or at the gym if you feel comfortable having someone watch your baby. Ditch the notion that you have to do long bouts of cardio or excessive amounts of intense exercise to lose fat. These workouts can backfire on your fat efforts because low estrogen makes the long duration cardio less effective and the high cortisol levels can make the intense exercise to cause your body to produce even more cortisol.
4. Consider a lower carb, higher fat diet. Slightly reducing your carb intake will help to better manage your insulin levels while increasing your fat intake will keep your calories up and keep you satiated. This will prevent you from dropping your calories so low that your milk supply drops. Remember, low carb is all relative though.
5. Make time for yourself. I hear from moms on the regular that they simply don’t have time for themselves. If you’re exercising, eating better and finding a few moments for self-care you’ll be in much better overall spirits and better able to care for yourself and your family. They need you, you need you, so you need to be in a good place.
6. Trust that it will likely gets easier after you stop breastfeeding. This is a time to own your breastfeeding choice and enjoy the experience while it lasts.
7. Ditch the guilt. So many women feel riddled with guilt that they aren’t happy about the extra weight while they are also experiencing the joy of a beautiful baby. You CAN want to feel good about your body again and be insanely grateful for your baby. They aren’t mutually exclusive. But keep perspective and use the gratitude you feel for having your baby in your life be the fuel for making better choices and taking care of yourself.
8. Finally, some of the lack of progress you may be saying through your midsection has nothing to do with fat but rather a structural and issue with your inner core. During pregnancy your abs were stretched, your ribs expanded, and your pelvis likely tilted forward as your lower back tried to accommodate your growing baby belly. All of these physical changes will make your midsection look wider – not to mention your core and pelvic floor that much weaker. Although you weren’t prescribed rehab program for your core upon leaving the hospital, you should’ve been! If you haven’t addressed your core and pelvic floor – even if your baby is a couple years old – do it!
If you take away anything from this post, please always remember to be kind to yourself. Being pregnant is hard, having a baby is hard, taking care of that baby is hard. This portion of your life is only a season, and it will change. If you’re holding weight because you’re breastfeeding it will eventually drop when you finish breastfeeding. Hang in there Mama!
On a side note…in my 8 week core and pelvic floor rehab program, Restore My Core, the focus is all on…you guessed it…your post-baby core.
BUT it’s not just the Core. Nutrition is half the battle here too! If you’re going to work on getting back your core function and confidence post pregnancy, we also have to address nutrition. No yo-yo dieting in this program! You can eat foods you actually ENJOY and never feel like you are on a diet.
In Restore My Core, I will guide you with clean (closer to their natural state) foods and simple, ingredient meals. Modifications for breastfeeding included. You will find your rhythm, and it’s not always 100% clean eating. That can be hard for anybody to stick to!
The next Restore My Core Coaching Community starts Monday April 8th and there is a program available for vaginal birth and C-section birth. To learn more about each program head to the following links:
Restore My Core: https://bit.ly/2I0UBag
Restore My Core C-section: https://bit.ly/2HYXOHy