For the safety of your baby, dieting while breastfeeding should be handled with extreme caution. While breastfeeding mothers should not participate in any fad diet, starvation diet or other diet that can compromise the quality of breastmilk, nursing mothers can safely lose weight. Women that participate in hardcore dieting while breastfeeding can suffer a variety of conditions, including poor maternal health, compromised or non-existent milk supply and breastmilk with altered nutrition.
Lactating women need a minimum of 1,500 to 1,800 calories each day to meet the demands of breastmilk production. While this may sound like a lot to some people, it’s not. Consider that nutrition facts are based on the average human consuming 2,000 calories each day. Women can safely breastfeed and lose weight simultaneously, by carefully examining the types of food they are eating in a day. Aim to eat a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups. If the amount of calories consumed each day is fewer than the amount of calories burned each day, weight loss will take place.
Here’s a look at some of the health risks of dieting while breastfeeding:
1. Poor Maternal Health
When nutritional requirements in the nursing mother are not being met, the body will rely upon stored nutrients to meet the demands for breastmilk production. As you can imagine, the human body has a limited amount of nutrient stores. If a breastfeeding mother is not consuming nutritious foods, the body will eventually run out of stores, causing the mom’s health to suffer. Nursing mothers that do not consume a variety of nutritious foods can expect to feel sluggish, tired and weak.
2. Compromised Milk Supply
Women that diet excessively or do not consume adequate amounts of nutrients will find that their milk supply decreases or becomes non-existent. Once milk production is compromised, it takes a lot of work to revive. Compromised milk production can also occur if the mother’s fluid intake is insufficient. It is important to eat a minimum of 1,500 to 1,800 calories each day to avoid low milk supply. By exercising moderately and consuming nutritious foods, breastfeeding mothers can safely lose approximately 5 pounds each month without jeopardizing the health of their baby.
3. Breastmilk Nutrition
No doubt, the most important thing about nursing a baby is quality. Breastmilk has the perfect combination of calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and vitamins, including those that boost the baby’s developing immune system. When a nursing mother does not consume an adequate amount of nutritious foods, quality of breastmilk will decrease. Research has shown that women cannot alter the amount of fat their baby receives through nursing, but they can alter the types of fat. By reducing the amount of “bad fat” in the mother’s diet and increasing the amount of “good fat, ” a nursing mother can pass nutritional benefits on to her baby. In addition, when a mother participates in fad dieting, starvation dieting or any other type of diet in which caloric intake is extremely reduced, fat-soluble contaminants that were once stored in the mother’s body fat can be released into the breastmilk, causing toxicity.