Question: I’ve gained weight since my baby was born. I use to work out at the gym regularly, but can’t do this now because I stay at home. I feel hungry and tired all the time. I don’t want to crash diet like I used to do. I am starting to feel depressed and take an “I don’t care attitude.” How can I lose weight while I’m nursing?
Answer: It sounds like part of your problem is depression – not necessarily mean the “clinical” kind, but the kind that accompanies the massive life changes that accompany life with a new baby. Maybe when the weather gets warmer and you can get outside more, you will feel more positive about the your situation. If the depression continues or worsens to the point where you feel that you just can’t deal with it anymore, then talk to your doctor. There are many anti-depressant medications that can be safely taken by nursing mothers, and sometimes they can make a huge difference in your outlook on life.
In general, it is easier to lose weight while you are nursing than when you are formula feeding. A new study shows that during the first three months, nursing mothers don’t necessarily lose weight faster, but between months three and six, there is significantly more weight reduction when the mothers continue breastfeeding By the end of the first year, nursing mothers lost an average of 2kg more than formula feeding mothers who took in the same number of calories.
You can diet while you are nursing, but you should avoid crash diets. Your diet doesn’t have as much to do with the quantity or the quality of your breast milk as you might think. You can still produce plenty of nutritious milk for your baby while following a sensible diet program. Weight Watchers has a diet for nursing mothers if you want to go that route. The article Nutrition, Weight Loss and Exercise While Breastfeeding has more detailed information about how to lose weight while you’re nursing your baby.
I used to do all my cooking from scratch in the old days when I had fewer children and more time and energy. My house was clean all the time and my sheets got changed every week, too. Now they get changed if someone throws up or pees on them. When you have a baby, housework can wait. As far as I know, dust bunnies never killed anyone, and nobody expects you to be Martha Stewart.
I would like to spend more time cooking and planning nutritious meals, but it’s one of the compromises I’ve had to make as my family has grown. There is such a wide variety of convenience food these days (Think bags of baby carrots!) that I do think it’s possible to eat a pretty healthy diet without spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Remember that you’re in the “survival mode”with your baby, and do whatever you have to do to stay sane during these early months of motherhood.
Anne Smith, IBCLC