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Breastfeeding and the Post-Pregnancy Body

February 8, 2014
Joy Kosak

The post-pregnancy body is a hot topic in the media. From the "4th Trimester Bodies Project" that went viral last September to celebrity baby weight loss headlines nearly every day, everyone has an opinion about how new moms should or shouldn't lose weight, how fast or slow to lose it, and even how to share about it on social media (or not).

What your post-pregnancy body weight comes down to is taking a healthy approach that caters to you and your baby's needs. Whether that means incorporating doable fitness routines into your schedule as soon as possible or taking time to recuperate slowly post-delivery is up to you. Regardless of your timetable, here are breastfeeding perks and basic tips for your post-pregnancy body:

  • Fortunately for new moms, breastfeeding naturally burns almost 20 calories to make just an ounce of breast milk. If your baby eats 19-30 ounces a day, that's anywhere between 380-600 calories burned.
  • Additionally, breastfeeding can also help eliminate your post-pregnancy "pooch." Nursing causes your body to release a hormone called oxytocin that shrink your uterus back down to its former size, naturally reducing your tummy closer to your pre-pregnancy size. This same hormone is tied to a lower risk of postpartum depression, which is a great bonus!
  • For moms not quite ready to dive back into a full workout or for those looking to take their exercise routine to the next level with strength training, try incorporating simple exercises into your pumping downtime, with doctor's approval of course. Although breastpumps require you to remain stationary, you can incorporate movements such as squats to get your legs burning or bicep curls to feel it in your arms if you're using a hands-free pumping bras like Simple Wishes.
  • If you're counting calories, think about the quality in addition to the quantity. Nursing is demanding on your body so it's important to consume "super foods" that help with baby's development while keeping you full. For example, yogurt, fish, and beans are good nutrient and protein-rich options. Don't forget to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Having a support system that is on board with your breastfeeding and fitness will help maintain your morale along the way. Remember that no matter your breastfeeding goal, whether its six months or two years, you are doing the best thing for you and your baby by trying. When it comes to your post-pregnancy body, it's up to you how fast or slow you go, so long as you keep your own and your baby's best interests in mind.