I hear this question regularly, and don’t worry I also think it too!! As I am currently in the same boat as many of our Shape Up Mums. Milly is now 4 months, and I would love to have my pre-baby body back – but I am still breastfeeding!
So where do you start!!
First and foremost – NO CRASH DIETING!!! If you cut your energy intake the first thing to be compromised will be your milk production! So if you decided to go on a strict diet, not only will you be feeling fatigued (as you have less energy) – your baby will probably be unsettled as you are starving them!!!!! Choosing to focus on a ‘healthy balance diet’ is the most importance thing.
Introduce exercise slowly. Don’t decide you want to lose weight, and go for a 10km run straight away. You will find that your milk supply over the 24-48 hours will be compromised, unless you eat and drink adequately to replace the energy you are utilising for your exercise. Build up your exercise in duration and intensity, that way your body can adjust slowly to the increased demands on it.
Drink plenty of fluids. On days that you do exercise you will need to drink 3-4L of water to ensure that you are rehydrating from the sweat you have lost during exercise, providing adequate fluids for the breast milk you will produce, PLUS – supply adequate fluids to your body so that it can function!!!
Don’t snack on empty calories. Make every mouthful count, by eating wholesome nutritious foods. Choosing snacks, such as those listed in out ‘Easy snacks for breastfeeding (and non-breastfeeding) Mums!’ will ensure you are making sensible decisions.
Don’t drink empty calories. Ensure that water is your first choice of drink, drinking soft-drink or juice adds extra kilojoules to your daily intake that your body doesn’t benefit from.
Adequate protein. Ensure that you have a good source of protein at each meal, so that you are able to provide adequately for your baby. Lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy products are great sources of protein.
Adequate calcium. As you produce milk, your body needs to find calcium for the breast milk you are producing. To ensure that you maintain your bone health, and have adequate calcium for your baby – including regular sources of dairy will assist in this process.
Balance is the key!!! Balancing good nutrition, with regular exercise will ensure that the extra kilograms gained during pregnancy will slowly fall off. Plus you will be able to breastfeed for as long as you and your baby desire. Too much or too little of either of these things, will either compromise your weight gain/loss or your babies ability to breastfeed adequately.
The weight loss after having a baby should not be instant! Despite what we regularly see in celebrity magazines, it is not wise to strip the weight off. My advice to mums is to aim for your babies first birthday! If you can be back at your pre-baby weight at your little ones first birthday – you have done an amazing job!!
Sally Muir – Dietitian and Personal Trainer