Maternity leave usually comes to an end around the time your baby’s “fun” phase is beginning: the cooing, the smiling, the (almost) sleeping through the night. And if you’ve been nursing, 12 weeks is also around the time when you feel like an old pro (rather than a flailing newbie). You’ve seen how your baby has grown, thrived and turned into a little butterball on your milk. Sore nipples and engorgement are a thing of the past.
If you’re breastfeeding, there’s a good chance that you’re (a) STARVING all.the.time, and (b) don’t have enough time to eat enough. Of course, that’s because (a) nursing a baby can burn 500 calories a day, and (b) with all that time you’re spending feeding, burping, changing and bathing your baby, who has time to sit down for a meal?
Four family-sized boxes of Reduced Fat Wheat Thins, and the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens: that’s what my husband brought to the hospital when I unexpectedly went into labor with our first baby three weeks early. At that point in the game, I’d found a suitcase to pack for the hospital, but hadn’t yet gotten around to packing it with diapers, booties and items that would have made sense—and in a nervous panic, my husband decided that day seemed like a better time than any to get cracking on a 700+ page novel he knew I’d never read. Um, pass.
Did you know that today is Public Display of Breastfeeding Day? Whether you’re currently participating in the nurse-ins that are happening throughout the country today (rock on!), are absolutely fine feeding your baby underneath that baby blanket thankyouverymuch, or weaned a long time ago, if you’re a mom who nursed, we want to say: “Awesome job, Mama!”
It’s nearly impossible to flip through a parenting magazine without seeing handfuls of ads about products that contain DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that occurs naturally in breast milk and is believed to support healthy brain development. DHA is used to fortify formula, infant cereals, yogurts and other forms of nutrition; it’s also available as a supplement for moms and babies. And, DHA is widely used for toddlers and older children whose brains, of course, are still growing and developing every day.
If you’re on a diet to lose those pregnancy pounds and you’re also breastfeeding, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is moderate calorie reduction isn’t going to impact your baby’s health—he’ll still get milk power-packed with all of the nutrients he needs to grow and thrive. The bad news? Going on a less-than-2200-calorie diet while breastfeeding can seriously impact your health.
Nursing is estimated to burn about 500 calories a day. Without even going into all of breastfeeding’s countless health benefits to your baby, this factoid alone is a pretty good incentive to nurse—especially if you are like me and put on, oh, a wee bit more than the recommended 25-35 lbs during pregnancy.
But not all women have an easy time losing weight when they are nursing. Nursing can make you very hungry! And going on some kind of extreme weight loss regimen could potentially affect your milk supply.
There are safe ways to lose weight while breastfeeding, though. (I should know—I lost 40+ lbs. of baby weight three times while successfully plumping up each of my kids!)
Here are my tips for reclaiming your pre-pregnancy jeans…while you’re still wearing a nursing bra:
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