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Will I lose weight after I stop breastfeeding?

When breastfeeding, mothers naturally burn more calories than when not breastfeeding. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always translate to weight loss. In fact, some nursing moms put weight on while breastfeeding.

If you have put on weight or still carry your pregnancy weight, you are probably looking forward to stopping breastfeeding and getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight.

The sad truth is, while many women assume that they will automatically lose weight when they stop breastfeeding, that isn’t always the case. In fact, some women may gain weight when they stop breastfeeding. The only way to lose weight is to fully commit to a weight loss plan and actively practice a healthy lifestyle.

Let’s take a deep dive:

Do you lose or gain weight when you stop breastfeeding?

Whether or not you were losing weight while breastfeeding, you will more likely gain weight when you wean off breastfeeding. Don’t despair if you do, the hormonal and emotional imbalances are temporary. Once your body adjusts to your new post-breastfeeding state, and you get into a healthier routine, your weight will stabilize and you might start losing weight.

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What causes weight gain after weaning your baby?

First of all, it’s important to understand that there is no substantial research-based evidence that links weaning and weight gain. However, there are several reasons why breastfeeding mothers might gain weight:

Lower metabolism rate

Breastfeeding burns more calories than formula feeding or bottle feeding. In addition, nursing makes the mother’s metabolism more efficient so she burns more calories even when resting.

When you stop breastfeeding, your metabolism rate slows down and you don’t burn as many calories. All these extra calories are then converted to fat.

Unhealthy food choices

Unfortunately, our diets always suffer post-delivery. The lack of time, exhaustion and stress ‘encouraged’ me to choose comfort food like cookies and chocolate. We also ate more instant meals than we care to count. While breastfeeding, you might have gotten away with not putting on weight despite the extra sugar. But when you stop breastfeeding, all that sugar turns to fat.

Lactation cookies are filled with sugar:

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Hormonal effects

Your hormones also play a role in weight gain post-breastfeeding. Prolactin levels are high when breastfeeding. However, when you start weaning off breastfeeding, your prolactin levels don’t drop suddenly but instead will taper off gradually. It will continue to exert its metabolic effects of slowing down your fat metabolism.

Lack of exercise

Short of going for a morning walk with baby in the pram, we did no proper exercise for years. Even if we ate as much as we did pre-pregnancy, if we are not moving as much, coupled with other factors, we will slowly put on weight when we stop breastfeeding.

Your body is still adjusting when you stop breastfeeding, so it’s normal to not lose weight right away. It usually takes about a year for your body to get back to its pre-pregnancy state. Don’t worry, you will eventually lose the weight!

The blues

I felt really sad for a few weeks when I stopped breastfeeding. Feeling down in the dumps is normal when you wean. Stopping breastfeeding leaves a void in you. Sometimes, you fill this void with comfort food. Learn some healthier ways to deal with post-weaning sadness.

How to lose weight when I stop breastfeeding?

It can be tough to lose the weight that you’ve gained after breastfeeding. But with a little planning and effort, you can make sure that your weight doesn’t go up but down instead. Here are some tips to help you avoid weight gain after breastfeeding:

Regular exercise

Make sure to get enough exercise. Exercise is a great way to burn calories and keep your metabolism going. It’s also a good way to reduce stress levels, which can lead to weight gain.

Start exercising 15 minutes per day. High intensity interval training (HIIT) will be the most effective weight loss exercise. However, any activity that increases your heart rate will do to start with. If you cannot exercise, start taking the stairs or going for a short walk each day. This will help keep your body in shape and prevent the weight from piling on.

Further reading: How moms can make physical fitness part of their stress management plan

Choose healthy snacks

Start eating healthy snacks instead of high sugar, processed ones. There are plenty of yummy, filling snacks around. Instead of reaching for a chocolate cookie, break off a square of dark chocolate instead. Or have an apple with peanut butter.

Try to plan your meals a bit more so you don’t end up with microwave meals so often. Stick to a good diet plan as much as you can.

Time restricted eating

Studies have shown that consuming all your calories in a shorter window will help you lose weight even when you are eating the same amount.

It’s not that hard. If you don’t eat after dinner at 6pm and eat a later breakfast at 9am, you have done 15 hours of fasting. If you are an absolute beginner, this is how you start practicing time restricted eating.

Set realistic goals

Don’t think that you have to lose all the weight in a certain time frame – set realistic goals and eat as your appetite dictates. And keep a positive attitude. Weight loss is a slow and steady process.

How much weight do you lose after you stop breastfeeding?

How much weight you lose after weaning really depends on yourself. A healthy and realistic goal would be to aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 – 1 kg) a week until you get to your pre-pregnancy weight.

Just remember that weight loss after breastfeeding is not a passive process, but rather, it is an active planned program that involves your full commitment and participation to work.

To wrap up

After stopping breastfeeding, many women find they do not lose the weight they expected to. However, by following a healthy diet and exercise plan, most women can reach their goals. So if you are looking to lose weight, make a plan!

Sharon James

1 thought on “Will I lose weight after I stop breastfeeding?”

  1. Pingback: Sad about stopping breastfeeding? Here's how to deal with it.

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