There seems to be this insane amount of pressure for new moms to snap back into their regular shape the minute they start breastfeeding.
Celebrities all over the globe have claimed they’ve lost several pounds the minute they started feeding their babies their milk.
However, this is not always the case, and many moms may find themselves actually putting on weight instead of losing it.
So, after dealing with horrid morning sickness, lack of sleep, birthing your child, and the uncomfortable feeling of them gnawing on your raw nipple every single day, you may feel frustrated, to say the least, that you are actually gaining weight.
However, you must not fear. This is real life at the end of the day, and gaining weight while you are breastfeeding is actually normal. Even if you are exercising.
This article is going to be discussing the different reasons why you may be gaining weight, and what you can do to change that!
Does Breastfeeding Make You Put On Weight?
The good news is, that breastfeeding, on its own, does not make you gain weight. It does not lead to the storage of body fat.
It actually helps you lose weight, as it burns calories. This is because you use energy in order to produce and store your milk supply.
The above may have you wondering why some women gain weight while they are breastfeeding, and the answer lies in a few reasons.
In order to gain weight, you need to be eating more calories than you are burning, and after giving birth there are several reasons why you may be eating more calories (without even realizing it!).
Your hormones are extremely active while you are pregnant, and they are still active when you are postpartum.
The hormone prolactin will increase in your body while you are pregnant, and once you’ve given birth, it tells your body to make milk. It is also a hormone that increases your appetite.
It is also known as the ‘fat-storing hormone’, and research suggests that a woman’s body will undergo changes in order to hold onto extra fat in order to produce enough milk for the baby.
Lack Of Sleep Duh!
Everyone knows that having a newborn means practically zero sleep (or a few hours of sleep a night if you’re lucky).
Lack of sleep is one of the leading causes of weight gain.
This is because (according to studies), lack of sleep can lead to an increase in the hormone called ghrelin (the hunger hormone), and a decrease in leptin (satiety hormone), which means your appetite will increase quite drastically at times.
Other research has also suggested that those who are lacking in sleep, tend to choose foods that are higher in calories.
In addition to this, if you’re awake for a lot of the night with your little babe, it is highly unlikely that you’re going to be snacking on greens at 3 am in a sleep-deprived state.
Therefore, even if you are exercising (if you’re some kind of superhuman), you may be eating more calories than you think, due to the food choices you are making.
It is important to be easy on yourself, because having a newborn is hard work, so if you want some carb-heavy snacks, you do you!
Given the extra hormones, lack of sleep, and trying to keep a little human alive, it is no surprise that you may be feeling stressed.
When your stress levels are high, there is more cortisol being released into your body, which is the stress hormone.
Unfortunately, high levels of stress can also increase your levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and can lead to food cravings and an increased appetite.
This stress may have you reaching for convenient comfort foods, which are higher in calories and can lead to weight gain.
Lack of sleep can also contribute to the increase in cortisol levels in your body.
This is because poor sleep, or lack thereof, can trigger the ‘fight or flight’ reaction in your body. Therefore, a sleepy state can lead to a stressed state.
Struggling With Milk Supply
While every woman dreams of their baby latching onto their nipple the minute they are born, and that incredible bonding begins, this is not the case for many new moms.
It is very normal to struggle with milk supply, and some decide to turn to medications in order to increase their supply of milk.
Some of these include metoclopramide (Reglan), and domperidone (Motilium).
While these medications can help moms lactate, they are also used to delay gastric emptying in general individuals.
However, if you take these medications when you do not have gastric emptying problems, it can result in you feeling very hungry.
Therefore, weight gain is a very normal side effect of taking these drugs, which makes losing weight very difficult postpartum.
How To Prevent Weight Gain Postpartum
As mentioned, if you are noticing some weight gain while breastfeeding, even if you are exercising, the reason lies behind your calories and the foods you are eating.
This can be due to stress and lack of sleep, but luckily, there are a few things you can do to minimize weight gain.
Begin by being aware of what you are eating, and counting your calories.
This may seem like an extra horrid task aside from all the things you already need to do, but there are many apps and trackers out there that make this very easy.
You must consume fewer calories than you are burning (calorie deficit), so if you are engaging in regular exercise, you must ensure to eat foods that are low in calories, but still healthy and nutritious.
While you may not be able to get more sleep than you are already getting, you can also improve the quality of your sleep. This will reduce your cortisol levels.
Try sleeping in an extra dark and cool room, and take turns with your partner, or whoever is lending you a hand with your baby at waking up.
This means you’ll still get some sleep each night, and will help with your food cravings.
To conclude, breastfeeding doesn’t make you gain weight, it is the extra calories you are consuming that are the cause of this.
We hope this article has provided you with some useful information on why this may be happening, and what you can to do manage it.