For every new mom who can proudly yank up her shirt and give her baby lunch in the middle of a baseball stadium, there is another woman who breastfeeds her baby in restrooms, parked cars or pumps at home and brings a bottle to avoid the dreaded “NIP,” or nursing in public, experience. If you’re shy about nursing (I was), you might even be afraid to leave the house with your baby, or you could have trouble with letdown, which can be frustrating for you and your baby alike.
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.
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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