Back to Resource Center

Dieting while breastfeeding 

These days there are a ton of misconceptions about dieting while breastfeeding. There are many questions that come to mind when thinking about dieting while you breastfeed like should I even be dieting while I breastfeed? Will my baby suffer if I do this? When can I start dieting while breastfeeding? Today we’re going to answer a few of those questions for you and give you some tips to help you find the right balance for you and your baby.

Should I be dieting while breastfeeding?

The word dieting can often have a negative connotation, but it doesn’t need to. The right diet is safe while nursing and if that diet balances healthy and nutritious food, like flexible dieting, it’s a win-win for you and your baby. The most important aspects to take away from this is that you don’t have to be on a traditional diet to lose weight and feel better. There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to losing weight, especially the baby weight from pregnancy. The same diet that works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. Hence the flexible part.

What you want to do is start eating more nutrient-dense food and avoid processed food and foods with high amounts of sugar. Doing this will not only give you a good foundation for a diet, but it will also provide you and your baby with the nutrients you both need.

Here are some good examples of nutritious foods you should eat while breastfeeding:

  • Fish (Salmon, tilapia, sardines, mahi-mahi)
  • Fruits & vegetables (Kale, broccoli, cabbage, lemon, apple, banana)
  • Nuts & seeds (Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds)
  • Other (Eggs, non-dairy protein milk, oats)

It’s also a good idea to taking a prenatal supplement in the morning when you get up and eat breakfast. Supplements are a good way to help fill any nutritional gaps you may have. If you are flexible dieting and have questions about whether your prenatal fits your macros, contact us, we’re happy to help.

Note: It’s important as a breastfeeding mother to have this discussion with your doctor prior to making any changes to your diet or starting a new exercise routine.

When can I start dieting while breastfeeding? 

Though we don’t like to use the term dieting per say, you can start to count macros and watch what you eat as soon as your physician/obgyn gives you the green light. Don’t be surprised if your doctor wants you to take some time before making any real lifestyle changes though. It takes time for you and your baby to adjust to breastfeeding and for you to build up a steady supply of breast milk.

What effect will dieting have on my baby?

If done properly, dieting while nursing will only have a positive effect on you and your baby. Changing your eating habits and exercising are obviously healthy choices for you and a healthy, happy you make for a happy, healthy baby.

Here are a few safety guidelines to help keep you and your baby healthy when dieting while breastfeeding:

  • Start off slowly – remember you just had a baby so this is going to be a process
  • Keep your weight loss to a minimum of 2 pounds per week
  • Avoid crash diet solutions as they may hinder your milk supply
  • Don’t stress about it, trust the lifestyle
  • Make sure you’re getting your nutrients

Tips for success

Don’t think of it as a diet

The more stress you put on yourself to follow a diet and lose weight, the less effective your diet is going to be. We don’t consider flexible dieting a “diet” so you don’t need to either. Think about it as a journey, a lifestyle if you will. Because that’s really what flexible dieting is, it’s a lifestyle.

Avoid fad diets

You should never go for the quick-fix one size fits all fad diets that you see on TV or social media. These are always a no go. Everyone’s body works differently and results will vary. Just like your pregnancy, every woman rebounds from birth differently as well. So take your time and learn to “diet” on your own terms.

Consider waiting until your baby is about 2 months old

Of course, always follow your doctor’s instruction, but we believe it’s important to wait about two months after giving birth until you decided to start dieting. This is because you and your baby are both adjusting to the breastfeeding process. If you start too soon it could be damaging to your milk supply.

Get in the habit of exercising

Another good tip we think will help you out when you’re dieting while breastfeeding is to get into the habit of exercising on a regular basis. It’s really no secret that being active is a major factor in feeling good and maintaining a healthy weight.

These days there are so many innovative ways to get your daily dose of activity. Consider going for a walk (pushing that stroller adds a little resistance), trying baby-and-me yoga or pilates, or even consider a dance class.

Count your macros

The best part of flexible dieting is that it’s not really a diet, in the traditional sense of the word. The key to being successful on a flexible diet is knowing your macros. The same principles of success apply whether you’re dieting while breastfeeding or not. Eat right and aim for those macros. If you have a bad day, don’t sweat it! There’s always tomorrow.

Make sure you’re not grabbing all your macros at one meal. Being a new mom and breastfeeding can take a lot out of you, it’s a busy time. Remember, food is fuel. So, try to hit your macros while you eat consistently throughout the day.

How to monitor your progress and stay motivated

Having a new baby and breastfeeding can be tough on its own. And adding a diet into the mix can be a whole new experience. It can be a challenge. But it’s important to remind yourself that this isn’t a race and you will hit the finish line when it’s time. There’s no need to rush your progress.

One thing you can do is get a journal and start writing down your progress each day. Write down what you ate, how much activity you were able to fit in, and anything else you accomplished for the day. Using a journal to track your progress will really help you to reflect on how your diet is going as well as give you an outlet to vent during the process.

Just remember…

When it comes to breastfeeding and dieting after birth, listen to your body. Just like intuitive eating uses common sense food choices, you’ll know what’s right for you and your baby. We’ll leave you with one last tip. Breastfeeding burns calories! So, if you didn’t hit your macros or make it out for a walk, just remember that you still got a work out in by nursing your new bundle of joy.