How to lose postpartum pregnancy weight while breastfeeding
The awful weight gain of pregnancy. Some women are super skinny through their whole pregnancy and all they have is this big belly that goes away after the baby is born. If that could be me, I would be the happiest woman in the world. But it’s not. I gained about 50 lbs in every pregnancy! Why me? The doctors tell me I need to stop gaining weight or I won’t be able to lose it. It’s a difficult thing to hear but I still would gain more weight. The best thing I could do for myself is shut everyone else out and just focus on growing a healthy baby.
My third pregnancy
I was eating vegan before my third pregnancy. I had lost 10 lbs in 3 months by eating vegan previous to the pregnancy. I went from 160 to 150. But, when I found out I was pregnant I went back to eating meat and dairy to make sure I got all the necessary nutrients. When I was pregnant, I started feeling hungry all the time and I purged on sweets. My life was busy, I had 2 teenage daughters, I was working full-time and work was always busy because we were always short staff. I didn’t have the energy to cook plus when I would get hungry I would feel sick and faint, so I would have to hurry up and eat. So I ate out a lot. Taco bell and taquerias and panda express, were my best friends. I was very active and went to the gym regularly before my pregnancy and I continued this through my pregnancy, up until the last month. But guess how much I gained.I gained 60 lbs.! I went from 150 to 211.
My fourth pregnancy
I went back to work part-time when my baby was 6 months old. At that time, I went back to the gym and started to cut my calories. I was 170 at 8 months postpartum and then I found out I was pregnant 9 months postpartum. This time, I told myself, I would control the weight gain, because I wanted to be able to
get back to my regular weight again. I went from 170 to 206. Not bad, I gained like 36 lbs compared to the first 2 pregnancies of gaining 50 lbs and the
third gaining 60 lbs. But I had a harder time losing the weight this time than all the other times. I’m sure because the last 2 pregnancies were back to back. By this time I had four c-sections. I had two children under two. I was tandem nursing, which was causing my body to hold on to the extra weight. I have a history with anxiety and depression which made more vulnerable to postpartum depression. The postpartum depression made it harder to get motivated to get out and go for walks. Then right when I started to get out of the house Covid hit. So we were on lock down and we didn’t leave the house for a few months.
Difficulty in losing weight while breastfeeding
By the time my baby was 12 months old, I was still 180 lbs. I was still breastfeeding. I was still craving sweets and eating junk food. When I got stressed out and tired I loved to eat chips and chocolate, ice cream and cookies. And when I eat, I can’t just eat 1 cookie, I have to eat until I am full and can’t eat anymore. By this time, junk food was an addiction. I craved it and I couldn’t say, “no.” Now, there were times that I did try different diets. I would eat really healthy for 1-2 weeks and then I would binge on junk food for 2 weeks. And that was my pattern, pretty much. I couldn’t stay away from junk food for too long. It made me feel good and I felt like I deserved it after a stressful day. I didn’t have much time to fix myself something to eat, I needed to eat something filling and fast so I would grab the chocolate chip cookies. I was constantly busy with 2 toddlers.
Trying to navigate losing weight and breastfeeding was the most difficult thing. I wanted to lose weight and feel good about myself again. But I didn’t want my breast milk supply to be affected. My priority was providing lots of milk, full of nutrition, for my baby. And I was tandem nursing my toddler until my baby was 6 months old and my toddler was 2 years old. You would think nursing would help me lose weight. But, I didn’t lose any weight for a while after I gave birth. My body held on to the weight to supply the milk for my babies. I was exhausted all the time and all of my energy went towards taking care of my 2 little ones. I put myself on the back burner.
At 3 months postpartum I tried the Atkins diet. I started researching low carb diets and breastfeeding and how to do it safely. I searched on Youtube and watched different women talk about their experiences. Many women were able to successfully lose weight while still being able to continue breastfeeding. I took fennel Greek supplements to help with my milk supply along with a breastfeeding supplement and of course my prenatal vitamins. I felt good on the diet. I felt full.I felt good that I was actively working towards losing weight. I used the Atkins tracker app. I made sure I had enough carbs. You must eat at least 50 grams of carbs and 2000 calories while breastfeeding. You can find more information on the Atkins website and diet doctor.com. I used the app to make sure I was eating enough carbs, fats and protein and calories. It was pretty easy to follow and I didn’t feel like I was starving myself. I ate 50-90 grams of carbs. And if my energy felt too low I would increase my carbs. I did this for 2 weeks and I lost 2 lbs. I went from 188 to 186 lbs. The diet was helping with weight loss. But, I noticed my milk supply was going down. I watched some women on Youtube who had similar advice, that the milk supply may just temporarily go down while your body gets used to the new diet but then it will return to normal. But my milk supply was not getting better. So one day I binged on carbs to see how it would affect my milk and that night I was overfilled with milk. So I decided I would discontinue this diet.
The low-carb diet can be effective but I see it harder to apply while breastfeeding. Everyone’s body is different so it may be worth trying. The good thing about it is that you take out the junk food from your diet and eat the clean proteins and vegetables. It seems pretty healthy as long as you do not consume too much high fat meats like beef and pork or eat with a lot of oil. A high cholesterol diet would not be good for your heart. Also, I personally have what is called medullary nephrocalcinosis and the doctor does not recommend a high protein diet because it is harder on your kidneys.
At 8 months postpartum I started eating vegan. This helped me go from 186 to 176 in 5 weeks. I took my fennel Greek and breastfeeding supplements, vitamin B complex, vitamin B 12, and prenatal vitamins. I felt like my breastmilk supply was affected a little bit but not too much. I felt good eating vegan, it made my spirit feel good to not be a part of harming animals. But, one day, I was out of the house all day and I was hungry so I bought a fish sandwich from McDonalds. I noticed my milk felt fuller later that day. So I decided to stop eating vegan to make sure my baby received enough nutritious milk. I decided I would not try to change my diet until he was 12 months old. He was such a healthy baby and he was my priority.
I really enjoy the vegan diet because I feel like I am creating a healthy body and healthy environment. But I know some people would not be willing to quit eating meat. It’s not for everybody. But knowing that I am doing something good for the earth and the animals and our future has helped motivate me to be consistent in the diet. If you are breastfeeding, then you may want to wait until after you wean the baby.
I told myself at 12 months postpartum, losing weight would be my focus. I no longer needed to worry about my breast milk supply. I was still breastfeeding but I was not the main supply of food anymore. At 11 months postpartum, I tried intermittent fasting. I fasted from 8 pm to 11 am. Intermittent fasting should not be done while breastfeeding according to health line.com. My baby was almost 12 months old and eating food really well, so this is why I felt safe trying this diet. I fasted for 15 hours. I skipped breakfast and I ate lunch and dinner and 2 snacks between. Because I was still breastfeeding, I would let myself eat sooner if I wasn’t feeling well, faint, nauseous, or fatigued. I was still breastfeeding and I didn’t want to affect my health in a negative way. At first I tried coffee with splenda in the morning but the first couple of days I felt nauseous. I decided to try black coffee with no artificial sweetener and this did the trick. The nauseous feeling went away. I went from 178 to 176 in 3 weeks. I had lost another 2 pounds in 3 weeks on this diet. Intermittent fasting should be used along with healthy eating habits. But I noticed I had a hard time not overeating at lunch time and I was still not eating healthy and craving junk food. I had a hard time controlling my cravings. It was hard for me not to eat in the morning because I was tired, moody, and groggy until I could eat lunch. The whole morning I would be checking the time for when I can start eating.
This diet did seem like it could be effective. But maybe it’s too difficult to follow while I am still breastfeeding. I think my body needs fuel more consistently. This is the downfall of breastfeeding. Your body needs to eat frequently. Even so, breastfeeding was more important than losing weight.
In the end, to kick off my weight loss; I decided to supplement my meals with protein shakes. I did this for a few days, just to change my mind set off eating, “just because it tastes good or because I’m craving something.” This way, I had a protein shake only for energy and nutrition. I did feel low energy and hungry at times but I needed to change my appetite. Then, I did 3 days of juicing along with one very small meal of chicken and vegetables. A juice cleanse would be 3 days of only juicing but because I was still breastfeeding I needed a little extra food. This really helped me to focus on healthy eating. I had to detox myself from the added sugars and salts that I was putting in my body.
Healthy Balanced low-fat Diet
Then, I went back to protein shakes, smoothie bowls with Homemade Vegan Oil-Free Granola Recipeand meals with chicken breast and vegetables. I would snack on fruit, vegetables or I like the Belvita coconut biscuits. I rarely cook with oil or add oil to my food. Oil is high in calories with little to no benefit. We already consume fats that are naturally in our foods. Adding a concentrated fat is not necessary. I will only grill or boil to cook food. The only meat I will eat is chicken breast or turkey breast or boiled eggs. I do not eat beef or pork. I do not eat any junk food. I only eat to fuel my body. I went from 174 to 161. I lost 13 pounds in 3 months. So that would be an average of 1 pound a week, which is a healthy weight loss. A healthy weight loss would be a half to two pounds a week. I felt good about myself for making healthy choices and actively working towards my weight loss goals.
I know that it’s disheartening not to have any easy trick for losing the baby weight. All the sacrifices we make as a mother. But stay positive, detox yourself from those addictive foods and start eating for your nutrition. I had to stop relying on food to make me feel better and started relying on yoga and meditation.
I was not able to exercise or walk much on my 4th pregnancy. My whole body was in so much pain, every joint hurt. This was my 4th c-section and my body was weak and out of shape. I had to get active again but I had to take baby steps and it had to be low impact because I had wrist pain, knee pain, hip pain, back pain and no core strength. I started out by just going for walks. This was enough to start with.
Now, I go for walks as much as possible. I do yoga and Pilates almost every night after my kids fall asleep. I use the Sweat brand of sweat enhancer, belly belt, and arm sweat bands.
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I weigh myself every day to keep track If it’s going up or down. This is to have a guideline. If the weight continues to rise then I know I am doing something wrong. If it goes up and down 3 pounds then I am not worried about that. But, I don’t just rely on the scale. Sometimes I may not lose weight on the scale but I can see how my body has changed visually. I take pictures of my body so I can see the differences. I also go by how my clothes fit. I went from XL to Medium in 3 months. I lost 7” around my waist and 5” around my hips in 7 months. My body is more toned. I can actually see muscles and my body shape is going back to normal.
Now I have made the lifetime commitment of staying consistent with eating healthy and staying at a healthy weight. I eat the same things every day. I eat 1-2 meals of chicken and vegetables or beans, snack on fruit and 1-2 meals of protein shake or a smoothie bowl. The only snack I allow myself is the Belvita coconut biscuits. This is my cookie substitute or on the go snack. I know, through experience, that my weight goes up and down. When I go back to eating junk food I gain the weight right back. It might not happen the first couple of weeks of eating bad and I think I am fine but then it creeps back out of nowhere with a vengeance. So I have to continue eating the same things every day, not eat out and not have desserts. Eating healthy is a lifetime commitment. Why lose the weight just to gain it right back? I have to be a good example for my family by being healthy.
I am still moving forward in my journey to looking the best that I can be. I plan to lose more weight and get more toned. I think it will be easier when the baby stops nursing but he’s 15 months old and teething so it’s not going to happen any time soon.
Stay tuned and I will continue my weight loss story after going vegan again How I Lost Weight on a Vegan Diet and my 7 tips.
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