Fewer ear infections. Reduced risk of viruses. The undeniable bond that forms between you and your baby. The known benefits of breastfeeding for your baby are too numerous to count. But nursing can also be beneficial for moms, too. Breastfeeding can even help you lose weight. But exactly how many calories does breastfeeding burn? You might be surprised at the number.
Let’s start with the basics. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way for your baby to get the nutrition they need. “Breastfeeding is good for both parent and baby,” lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE, tells Romper in an email. “Human milk is full of all the nutrients a baby needs in the first six months and continues to boost growth and immunity into the toddler years.” And because your body is so busy producing breast milk for your babe, you’re bound to use more energy in the form of calories.
So how many calories can a breastfeeding mom really expect to burn? Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant explains: “Breastfeeding burns an average of 500 calories a day. An average milk supply is 30 ounces a day. That would make it an average of 17 calories burned per ounce of milk made.” Of course, the amount of calories you burn per breastfeeding session is going to depend on how much your baby eats.
To give you an idea of how the reduction of those 500 calories could potentially impact your diet, you need to know how many calories you should be consuming daily in the first place. While there’s no one specific number that will indicate how many calories you should take in, a woman should consume somewhere between 1,800-2,400 calories daily, Women’sHealthMag.com reported.
Now, if you’re thinking that you could lose some of that leftover baby weight from nursing, it certainly is possible. “One bonus of breastfeeding is that you can have more calories and still lose weight,” says O’Connor. But exactly how much? Again, it depends, but here’s what Tran advises: “If a woman is breastfeeding, combined with a healthy diet, some calorie restriction, and working out, it can be between 1-2 pounds lost per week.”
Although that might sound exciting (especially if you were hoping to fit into your pre-pregnancy pants sometime soon), you might have to wait a bit. Why? Well, even though breastfeeding does burn calories (and a substantial amount at that), it also makes you feel really ravenous, too. “Women do often feel hungrier because of all those calories breastfeeding burns,” says Trans. So if you’re looking to appease your increased appetite, make sure to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods like leafy green and yellow veggies, whole grains, iron-rich foods, calcium, Omega-3s, and proteins, WhatToExpect.com advises.
Many women choose to breastfeed because of all the benefits it offers to their babies. But nursing can also burn plenty of calories, too, so make sure that you maintain a well-balanced diet so that you’re healthy for both yourself and your growing baby.
Lactation consultant Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, LCCE
Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC, a registered nurse and lactation consultant
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