In this article I want to talk about one of the tips that women get after delivering a baby. This tip is founded on the belief that breastfeeding helps you lose weight. I want to see whether this is indeed true or simply a myth.
One of the main challenges women face after pregnancy is trying to lose their baby weight. This can be harder than it is to normally lose weight as a new mother has the added responsibility of having a baby to care for and she has to heal from her delivery.
Because it’s so challenging, women try to find anything that may help them get back to their pre-pregnancy weight. Breastfeeding seems like an easy choice as most women want to breastfeed their baby simply as an act of love and motherhoood. But does breastfeeding really have any effect on your weight? What does the research say? Let’s go over the evidence and learn the truth.
Breastfeeding and Weight Loss – 3 Reasons Why It May Help
In my opinion, breastfeeding is likely to help women lose weight after pregnancy for a number of reasons:
- Breast feeding requires energy – Not just the act of breastfeeding your baby but the energy your body has to expend in order to keep lactating (creating milk). This requires a lot of calories that your body uses in order to continute generating milk to feed your baby.
- Breastfeeding has been linked to a reduced risk of post-pregnancy depression . Some mothers suffer from bouts of depression after delivery. This may lead to less activity, a reduced inclination to exercise, and overall lower investment of time and effort in your health and appearance.
- I often believe that people who keep busy tend to eat less (unless they’re busy sitting in boring board meetings with ample food on the table). The less free time you have and the more your hands are engaged, the less likely you are to overeat. When you’re breastfeeding, you’re holding your baby close to your body so you’re not free to eat yourself. Note: This is a theory of mine and not something proven by research.
Research Based Evidence of Breast feeding and Post Partum weight loss
Whatever the reasons may be, there are studies which have found a link between breast feeding and post-partum weight loss. For instance, in a study done by the Department of Nutrition at the University of California, it was found that mothers who breastfed their child for 6 months after their delivery lost weight and their body composition improved . It’s important to note that the results pertain only to mothers who breastfeed their baby for prolonged periods of 6 months and up.
Another study done in Denmark supports this conclusion . In this study, new mothers were interviewed regarding their breastfeeding habits and their pregnancy weight retention was examined. It was found that women who breastfeed for at least 6 months were more likely to lose all their baby weight (except those women who were greatly overweight). Again, the length of time which you breastfeed is very important.
Another study also found a curious effect that breastfeeding might have on your lower body composition . This study found that women who breastfed more than others tended to lose more lower body fat. While these results may not constitute a permanent lower body makeover, it once again demonstrates the power of breastfeeding when it comes to combating post pregnancy weight.
However, not all studies support the assertion that breastfeeding helps you lose weight. In a study which examined the effects of breastfeeding on the health of infants and mothers, the effect of breastfeeding on weight loss was found to be negligible .
That being said, breasfeeding was found to have various health benefits:
- A reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
- A reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- Reduced risk of several childhood illnesses for the infant.
Most of the evidence that I found indicates that breastfeeding is associated with greater post pregnancy weight loss. However, the extent of this benefit is unclear. What is clear is that breastfeeding has many health benefits for both mother and child and is a recommended habit. It also helps to connect the mother and child more closely together.
If you are looking to lose baby weight, this is just one of the things you need to do. A healthy diet plan and a regular workout routine is also important. One fitness plan which is designed for mothers is the Fit Yummy Mummy program which you should consider.
1. Ip S, Chung M, Raman G, Chew P, Magula N, DeVine D, Trikalinos T, Lau J. Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep). 2007 Apr;(153):1-186.
2. Dewey KG, Heinig MJ, Nommsen LA. Maternal weight-loss patterns during prolonged lactation. Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Aug;58(2):162-6.
4. Kramer FM, Stunkard AJ, Marshall KA, McKinney S, Liebschutz J. Breast-feeding reduces maternal lower-body fat. Breast-feeding reduces maternal lower-body fat.