Secrets the experts won't tell you about healthy breastfeeding and natural weight loss
It can be done!
Labeled the “most beautiful woman in the world,” Aishwariya Rai has been the center of ridicule and scrutiny for the last seven months. Why is this 1992 Ms. World suddenly sparking so much controversy? Three words: post-pregnancy figure.
The previously svelte and sexy actress/model is now almost unrecognizable through her double chin and extra flub. In fact, she presently looks plumper than she did when she emerged from the hospital just days after giving birth to her daughter.
Let’s face it—we live in a culture that has unrealistic expectations of women. We’re expected to cook, clean, raise perfect children, maintain a miniscule figure, and juggle a respectable career all without suffering a single wrinkle or fine line. To top it off, God forbid if the slightest flub graces our belly mere days after pushing a tiny human out of our bodies. We’re sure to face heat from family, friends and even strangers, who sometimes do not hesitate to launch words of wisdom (and insults) regarding our “extra luggage.”
Despite these expectations, try uttering the words “lose weight” a second after you give birth and you’re likely to receive cruel looks. If you’re breastfeeding? You might as well handcuff yourself and walk straight to the local prison before even dreaming of letting those words slip from your tongues.
“Eat all you can, you’re nursing!” you’ll hear from everyone including family, friends and bloggers. Yet, it’s so hard to swallow a bite of food when you know your flub is being scrutinized and talked about by everyone within eyesight.
As a recent second time mom, I nearly broke down when a fellow mother came to visit my newborn and (after a moment of looking me up and down) told me that it was very apparent that I’d just delivered a baby! Another mommy friend who just had baby number two was transformed from a food hoarder who had no care in the world for anyone’s opinion of her figure to a frantic, weepy wreck a week before she was due to visit her family in Canada. “My aunts are going to tell me that I still look pregnant,” she wept. “They said that to me last time too!”
It’s horrible, right? And after you’ve been scrutinized by the world, God forbid you tell someone that you’re looking for a safe way to lose weight while nursing! How selfish we are, we mommies who stay up around the clock to pump our breasts and nurse our little ones!
Fellow mothers, you are not alone in your desire to supply your baby with nutritious milk while looking for a safe way to lose weight. And I won’t be like your “friends” and discourage you from doing so. You are grown women who are already wonderful mothers because you’re making that extra effort to nurse your child in a world where no one has time to breathe. So I know you will not do anything drastic to negatively impact the quality of your milk supply in your attempt to lose weight. Like me, you’re simply looking for a way to provide your baby the “liquid gold” your body creates while you try to protect your already bruised self confidence from the harsh words of the world.
So here it is, fellow mothers. After two months of being picked on, humiliated, put down and discouraged, I took things into my own hands in an attempt to provide others who are facing a similar fate honest and effective tips. After much research and trial and error, I can tell you exactly how you can shed a healthy amount of weight while not compromising the quality or quantity of your milk supply.
First, remember to take it easy. The weight will come off—I promise (I’m telling you from experience), but you have to relax and let your body do its thing. Don’t weigh yourself every day, otherwise you may get discouraged if you don’t see instantaneous results. Once a week is good frequency for measuring your progress.
Second, keep a journal of everything you eat—and I mean everything! For those of you who are best friends with your cell phones, you can use this to keep track of your intake. Remember to eat unlimited amounts of fruits and veggies. Nuts, cheese, granola and crackers (about a palmful of each) are good snacks to munch on between meals. Eat filling meals for breakfast and lunch and try not to eat a heavy meal two hours before bed (fruit or a light snack is fine).
Third, your body needs an average of 1,800-2,200 calories to provide adequate nutrition and create a good volume of milk supply. Try to consume 2,200 the first week, then work your way down to 1,800 by week three or four. If you’re not into calorie counting, review your intake and try to make a conscious effort to cut out fatty and non-nutritious foods and replace them with healthier choices (again, fruits and veggies are the way to go). Remember—do not go below 1,500 calories (I haven’t gone below 1,800). If your body thinks it’s starving, it may release toxins into your milk or your milk volume may suffer.
Lastly, purchase a pedometer. They don’t cost more than eight dollars (unless you go for the high-tech ones) and you can find them at Walmart and most other retail stores. Since mommies are busy people, it’s not always practical to carve out time for an exercise routine. A pedometer allows you to do your daily chores while counting your steps. Begin slowly and aim to work your way up to a minimum of 7,000 steps a day. If you can manage 10,000 (again, go slow) you’ll see better results.
If after doing all this you still aren’t seeing results, please visit your doctor and have your thyroid checked. Thyroid problems often affect weight and it’s sometimes common to have a change in thyroid after pregnancy.
Let me give you an additional boost of encouragement and finish by saying that I’ve lost a total of 11 pounds in two months just by following the above guidelines—and my milk supply is greater than ever!
Happy breastfeeding! And remember, at the end of the day your beautiful body, no matter how discombobulated it may be at the moment, is what gave birth to that beautiful baby who will one day call you mommy.
Until next time!