Breastfeeding has many wonderful benefits – but is weight loss one of them? We surveyed almost 500 women to see what the majority of women have experienced – if you are wondering, “Will breastfeeding help me lose weight?” you are in the right place!
I think every mom has heard it at least once:
“Breastfeeding makes you lose weight! It’s the best diet!”
The truth is – breastfeeding does burn calories. However, this doesn’t mean it will automatically make you lose weight.
Sure, there are women who lose weight like crazy while breastfeeding – but for every woman like that, there’s one who can’t lose a pound – or even gains weight – while breastfeeding.
Because I see so many moms asking about how to lose weight while breastfeeding – and more often than not, mothers just beside themselves because the weight isn’t coming off as promised – I decided to do a little poll in my breastfeeding Facebook group.
I was curious to see how many moms actually found it easier to lose weight while breastfeeding – and to see what the majority of women experienced.
Here are the questions I asked, along with the percentages of women who answered each one. We had about 470 women respond total:
- 54% – Lost a lot of weight initially after birth but weight wouldn’t budge after that (added the following into this)
- Lost a lot of weight initially but held on to about 10 pounds until baby weaned.
- 23% – The weight just fell off – no change in diet or exercise
- 12% – Lost a lot of weight initially after birth, but gained back quickly
- 4% – Couldn’t lose weight until baby weaned
- 3% – Lost weight with careful diet and exercise
- 2% – Gained weight after weaning baby
- 2% – Couldn’t gain weight while breastfeeding
The majority of the women polled lost weight after giving birth – which is to expect, since most women will drop between 10-15 pounds immediately following birth – but then struggled to lose weight after that. I am not sure that I would attribute this all to breastfeeding.
However, after losing that weight, they struggled to lose any weight. Although this is not a scientific study (obviously), I am led to believe that many women don’t actually lose weight while breastfeeding a general rule.
The next largest percentage at 23% was women who did, indeed, lost weight due to breastfeeding. However, I’m not sure I would say this is the rule.
For me, I always lose weight immediately following birth and for about two weeks afterward – and I end up weighing less than I did before I got pregnant! But after that first couple of weeks, the scale won’t go up or down. So for me, it seems that breastfeeding exclusively at least helped keep the weight at bay.
However, as soon as my kids start to eat solids more regularly and nurse less, I start to gain weight.
Can breastfeeding help you lose weight? It absolutely can. However, it’s not as clear cut as many people expect (and are disappointed to discover). When combined with a healthy diet, moderate exercise, and frequnet breastfeeding, you have the best chance of it affecting breast milk.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that sometimes your body just needs to hold onto that extra weight while nursing for one reason or another.
If you are looking for a great resource for healthy eating while breastfeeding, you don’t want to miss our breastfeeding cookbook and meal plan. It’s designed to provide you with the nutrients and calories you need to maintain milk supply while helping you lose weight and recover from pregnancy. It’s $19.99 for a limited time!
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Katie Clark is a Certified Lactation Educator, Certified Breastfeeding Specialist, and IBCLC student. She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.