Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions.
I really want to get my figure back and get into my favourite jeans. Is it OK to go on a diet while breastfeeding my baby girl?
Part of the weight you gained during pregnancy was extra fat stores built up by your body to supply the building blocks of human milk for your newborn. This is why women lose some weight while breastfeeding, although some lose it soon after their baby is born and others not until after they finish breastfeeding. It is actually good to lose this extra weight, particularly if you are planning to have more babies, as gaining a bit with each pregnancy and not losing it can make it much harder to return to a healthy weight later on.
No matter how tempting (and easy) the celebs in women’s magazines make it sound to follow a seven-day/six-week (whatever) miracle diet with the promise of getting your figure back quickly, it’s absolutely not a good idea if you are breastfeeding. Remember, every calorie that your baby needs for the first 4–6 months of life until you introduce solids comes directly from you. Apart from vitamin D, your breasts are providing your little baby with all the building blocks of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and other vital factors she needs to grow and thrive. Here’s a statistic: In these first precious few months, your baby is growing at the fastest rate that she ever will, even faster than in adolescence.
Strict dieting while breastfeeding may affect both your milk production and your energy levels, which are probably already suffering with the demands of a new baby and lack of sleep. It is much better over the first year (it goes faster than you think) to focus on making long-term sustainable changes to your eating and exercise habits – changes you can see yourself maintaining in the long term. This is more important than ever now you are a parent as you want to be a good role model for your child. If you feel you need to lose weight more quickly, have a chat to your doctor and get the help of dietitian who can help you plan a healthy weight loss diet that won’t affect your baby’s vital milk supply.
This is an extract from The Bump to Baby Diet. Six hundred (600) of the 3000 ‘goodie bags’ on offer at Mum’s Big Day Out – Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne (Australia)
on 16th March 2014 – will have a free copy of this book thanks to the generosity of Hachette Australia.