Breastfeeding and Weight Loss: What You Need To Know

You hear it all the time. Breastfeeding can help you lose the weight you’ve gained during the nine long months of pregnancy. While not every new mom swears by this method, some think it’s the holy grail of postpartum weight loss.

Actress HalleBerry told Extra that she swears by nursing as a beginning weight loss method. "Every mother should breastfeed," she said. "It's the quickest way to shed the initial weight, and then you have to eat right."


What’s the reason breastfeeding helps kick off the pound shedding? Well, it has to do with caloric intake. The process of making-milk can actually help you burn up to 500 calories a day.

Sounds great, right? No wonder you're so hungry!

But don’t get too excited. This isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card to eat the entire box of chocolates you got for Valentine's Day or a whole Cheesecake Factory cheesecake in one sitting. 


Mom doesn’t necessarily need to eat more when she’s breastfeeding.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the caloric intake for women between the ages of 19 and 45 is as follows:

Sedentary: 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day

Moderately active: 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day

Active: 2,200 to 2,400 calories per day

If a breastfeeding mom is trying to lose weight, she shouldn’t supplement the 450 to 500 calories per day she’s burning off through breastfeeding.

Still, specialty diets are different. Any nursing woman who is a vegan or has other dietary restrictions should also consider a DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) supplements as well as multivitamins to make sure she’s getting the right nutrition. It’s important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any supplements.


Another way breastfeeding helps decrease the size of your midsection is through uterine contraction. Nursing releases the hormone oxytocin which aids in shrinking of the uterus. 

But remember what Ms. Berry said: "You have to eat right."

Breastfeeding alone won't get you down to your desired weight. A good combination of eating the right foods and exercise will get you a lot farther. Always check with a doctor before beginning any sort of diet or exercise routine to ensure it's good for your body.


Most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself. You spent nine months growing a baby. It's not all going to fall off in a few weeks. If you stay healthy and active, you'll eventually get to your ideal size and you'll ensure that baby is healthy in the process.


The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.