Exclusively breastfeeding your newborn baby offers unparalleled health benefits to your child. According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, breastfeeding your newborn baby reduces her risk of a number of health problems, from diarrhea to bacterial meningitis, and it can reduce your baby’s chances of dying from sudden infant death syndrome. In addition, there are a number of benefits for Mom as well, including a lowered risk of breast cancer and the ability to lose your pregnancy weight faster than moms who don't breastfeed.
Refrain from dieting while you are breastfeeding, advises Barbara Struempler, professor of nutrition and food science and nutrition specialist at Auburn University, in an article for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Dieting while breastfeeding hinders your body’s ability to produce enough breast milk for your baby; eating a healthy, calorie-rich diet consisting of vitamins, minerals, calcium, iron and protein ensures that your milk supply is healthy and plentiful, and that you are able to lose weight quickly.
Exercise regularly, but wait to exercise until after you nurse your baby. According to pediatrician William Sears in an article for "Parenting" magazine, you'll be much more comfortable working out soon after nursing because your breasts are empty and less painful. While milk production burns as much as 500 calories per day, working out regularly helps you to speed up the process of weight loss while breastfeeding.
Start your postpartum exercise routine slowly, suggests Dr. Sears. Even if you worked out regularly before your baby was born and before you were pregnant, it’s safer and healthier for you to gradually ease back into your old routine -- though not before getting the all-clear from your doctor. For example, walking is a great start to working out after giving birth. You can push your baby in the stroller or wear her in a baby carrier while you walk. The additional calories you burn can help you speed up your weight loss.
Weigh yourself only once a week, advises Struempler. You may want to fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans as soon as possible, but for your own health, it’s not advisable to lose more than 1/2 pound of weight each week. Any more than that could be indicative of an unhealthy diet, which in turn could mean your baby is not getting the proper nutrition he needs. Postpartum weight loss is understandably important to you, but your baby’s health should be your No. 1 priority.