As if the world of postpartum weight loss wasn't pressuring enough, now you can pick up any magazine and read all about how a celebrity's baby weight literally melted off of her by doing just one thing — breastfeeding her baby. It sounds too good to be true, right? Well, in some cases, it is. The breastfeeding and weight loss myth has made its rounds in the world, basically convincing women that if they breastfeed their babies, they'll lose all the weight they gained in pregnancy plus some.
I mean, if you're going to turn your nose up at exercises that promise to give you flat abs in just six weeks without changing your diet, then why would you believe that you can drop nine months of weight gain by breastfeeding your baby?
The myth has some truth to it, I guess. According to Fit Pregnancy, your body releases oxytocin as your baby breastfeeds and this hormone can help your uterus contract back to its normal size faster than in moms who don't breastfeed. KellyMom has also noted that breastfeeding does burn extra calories. But a flatter tummy doesn't always equal a huge weight loss, nor does burning a couple hundred extra calories per day. Relying on that can make you feel even more down, especially if you're having a difficult time breastfeeding.
Although burning extra calories sounds great, you also have to remember that your body needs extra calories in order to make milk. According to Women's Health, doctors usually recommend that a breastfeeding mother eat a few hundred extra calories per day in order to produce milk and keep your supply up. If breastfeeding then burns about 300 to 500 calories per day, it's most likely burning the extra calories you ate and not the calories from your typical meals.
Plus, have you actually noticed how hungry you are while breastfeeding? According to KellyMom, in order to produce breast milk, your body has to release the hormone prolactin, but that hormone does other things, too. ABC News reported that prolactin can actually stimulate your appetite, too. Mother nature's way of making sure you get all of those extra calories in so you can produce breast milk? She's sneaky that way.
This is why saying you will lose lots of weight by just breastfeeding is a myth. There are too many variables at stake. How often does a nursing mom get out to walk around the neighborhood if her baby is cluster feeding? What about the days you wake up thoroughly exhausted and are grabbing an easy doughnut for breakfast instead of whipping up some egg whites?
The best thing you can do if you want to lose weight while breastfeeding is to make healthy food choices, stay hydrated, and get active when you can. Don't rely on breastfeeding alone to get you back in your favorite pair of jeans. Breastfeeding's hard enough without that added pressure.