How Many Calories Does Breastfeeding Burn? It’s Pretty Substantial

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The health benefits of breastfeeding for your baby are widely known, but what you may not know is that there's a little something in it for moms too. Not only does it help facilitate the mother-baby bonding process, but breastfeeding is often said to be a calorie-burning activity. So if you're wondering whether or not you can trade in your sneakers for a breast pump, you might be asking how many calories does breastfeeding burn?

You've heard celebrities like Gisele Bündchen and Kourtney Kardashian credit breastfeeding as the secret to postpartum weight loss, but can mere mortals see these same magical results?

It turns out, even non-breastfeeding moms can reap the benefits — at least, in the beginning. Because the act of making the milk, not feeding it to baby, is what causes breastfeeding moms to burn calories. As Women's Health pointed out, your body has to work overtime to produce breast milk full of the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs. How much work? According to Shape magazine, producing an ounce of breast milk burns an average of 20 calories and, as Women's Health magazine noted, breastfeeding can burn between 300 to 500 calories per day. This means that moms who breastfeed on a regular basis are burning calories all day long.

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Although breastfeeding can burn a lot of calories, it's not necessarily an excuse to load up on indulgent dishes. (Though if you want to treat yourself, do it. No one's judging.) Because breastfeeding tends to make moms hungrier and expend more energy, as noted on Babble, you'll want to make sure you're loading up on energy-boosting foods. As La Leche League International recommended, breastfeeding, along with moderate exercise and a portion-controlled diet is ideal for new mothers to lose weight and maintain optimal heart health.

All this said, postpartum weight loss shouldn't be your primary motivation to breastfeed your newborn, nor is it a means to lose weight. If you see it as such, then you should talk to your doctor and seek the help of a professional to help you through the struggle. All breastfeeding is, and all it should be, is a way to feed your child.