5 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
Postpartum brings plenty of changes to a woman’s body, and at times, these changes can be both challenging and frustrating. One of the biggest challenges many women face after giving birth, is difficulty losing weight while breastfeeding. Turns out, not everyone has the experience of loosing weight while breastfeeding. I don’t! Our bodies are pretty intuitive and they respond accordingly. There are likely some very logical explanations for why you might be having a hard time losing weight during postpartum breastfeeding.
Your body is actually undernourished
When you’re breastfeeding your baby, your body uses more energy and therefore you need to supply it with more calories than normal. If you’re restricting your calories in an attempt to lose weight while breastfeeding, it signals to the body that you’re under stress and need to conserve energy. The body will hold onto excess weight and actually slow down the metabolism to maintain the energy that’s required to breastfeed and keep the body in balance. It’s important to nourish your body with nutrient dense whole foods, focusing on plants and eating till you’re satisfied.
2. You’re living in constant stress
Just as under-eating can cause your body stress, other factors like mental health and the demands of motherhood with a newborn can keep you from losing weight. Our bodies release cortisol when we’re constantly stressed, and cortisol can lead to gaining and retaining weight, especially in the midsection. Find ways to destress throughout the day, whether it be exercising, practicing mindfulness, or taking a little “me” time.
3. Low breastmilk production
Hormones play a huge role in every aspect of pregnancy, and producing breast milk is no exception. If you find it difficult to produce breast milk, it could mean you have hypoplasia/insufficient glandular tissue (IGT). There can be several causes for IGT and it’s important to check and see if you’re experiencing it so you can find helpful solutions.
4. Hormone Imbalance
Prolactin, which is the main hormone involved in the production of breast milk, gets released every time you breastfeed your baby. That said, Prolactin also wants to keep mamma plump enough to continue supplying milk regularly. One of the ways Prolactin keeps us from losing weight is through the suppression of Adiponectin, another hormone which actually does the opposite: it promotes a faster metabolism, gives us energy and helps us lose fat. Breastfeeding moms have roughly 10x as much Prolactin as the average person! Clearly, we might want more Adiponectin, and less Prolactin, then - but we need the latter to help us supply milk.
5. Adrenal Fatigue
This is actually pretty common in breastfeeding moms, and unfortunately, it causes weight gain, fluid retention and exhaustion. Simply put, our adrenal glands regulate our stress response, and when you’re experiencing stress on a daily basis with little sleep, the body produces too many adrenal hormones. When you’re under pressure, the adrenal glands go into overdrive, which leads to them becoming fatigued after months of sleep deprivation and producing milk for your baby. In order to deal with the added stress your body is under, they start secreting high amounts of cortisol, which, you guessed it - is the hormone most linked to weight gain.
If you find yourself having trouble losing weight while breastfeeding postpartum, don’t stress it too much! Often times, once you stop nursing the body will naturally restore balance. When I stopped nursing Enzo I lost 15 pounds within 10 days - it was crazy! Currently, I’m still nursing Elio and I have 30 pounds to lose but I remind myself not to stress it, I’m just enjoying this time with my littles. I always tell my clients to go out and buy jeans and cloths that fit you now, and make you feel good now - that in and of itself will make you feel better.
At the end of the day, remember that this time will pass, and be gentle with yourself as your body works its magic!