There are three types of breastfeeding mothers in this world: those who lose their pregnancy weight without trying, those who lose 10 or so pounds without trying and then hit a plateau far from their pre-pregnancy weight, and then there are those moms who do not lose an ounce of baby weight despite breastfeeding constantly. If you are the first type of mother, congratulations and we do not know why you are reading this article. 😉 If you find that you are in the latter categories of breastfeeding moms, and/or you have even gained weight since having your baby because you are hungry all. the. time. then solidarity, mama! We have been there. We have tried all the things and found what works and what doesn’t, so read on for our actual, practical tips on how to lose weight while breastfeeding without affecting milk supply.
Before we explain how to lose weight while breastfeeding, we want to make sure to point out that you must take weight loss slow in order to not affect your breast milk supply. As the old adage goes, it took 9 months to add the weight on; it might 9 months or more to get it off. At its simplest, the key to weight loss is calories in, calories out. However, as breastfeeding moms know, it is a bit more complicated than that. You need to make sure you are eating enough calories because a sudden drop in calories could result in a sudden drop in breast milk supply which we absolutely do not want.
There are a few rules to abide by in order to lose weight while breastfeeding without affecting milk supply:
1. Wait until your baby is 2 months old
After you give birth, your body goes through all sorts of changes. Wait until your baby is over 2 months old, or 7-8 weeks, to try incorporating weight loss methods into your everyday life. This will give your body time to heal and to firmly establish its breast milk supply.
2. Consume at least 1,700-1,800 calories a day
Every mom’s body, activity level, and life in general is different, but you should aim to eat at least 1,700-1,800 calories a day. Ideally, you should eat more in the range of 2,000+ calories a day. Breastfeeding burns anywhere between 200-500 calories per day depending on a mom’s fat stores, metabolism, baby’s age, and milk intake. You need to account for breastfeeding calorie burn when trying to determine how many calories to eat. More on this below.
3. Avoid fad diets and exercise programs
The diet industry is a billion dollar complex. There will always, always be a new diet or exercise program that promises to be the key to everlasting weight loss. While you may feel the urge to try the latest diet or program, we encourage you to just say no. Again, a sudden drop in calories (be it through restrictive dieting or burning more calories than you are replacing) will lead to a sudden drop in breast milk supply. It must be avoided at all costs in order to successfully breastfeed. Remember that breastfeeding your baby is just a season of life. You can try the latest and greatest weight loss method in time, if you so wish.
Now to the good stuff! We polled our working moms and based on their feedback determined what practically works best on how to lose weight while breastfeeding.
1. Weight Watchers
Ok, we get it. You are probably thinking, “Weight Watchers…? Isn’t that a little old school?” And yes, yes it is old school. But it’s old school for a reason. It actually works. And Weight Watchers works phenomenally well for breastfeeding mothers which is why it is our top choice for how to lose weight while breastfeeding without affecting milk supply. As we mentioned above, weight loss can be boiled down to calories in, calories out. However, that can be hard to accomplish without structure and accountability.
What our working breastfeeding moms love about Weight Watchers is that it provides structure with its daily point allotment and, most importantly, takes breastfeeding calorie burn into account. Weight Watchers understands that breastfeeding mothers want to lose weight but also maintain their milk supply and because of that, they give extra points to nursing mothers based on how much your baby is currently nursing. This is important because the amount of breast milk your body is producing (and, therefore, the amount of calories you are burning to make breast milk) varies greatly depending on how old your baby is. If baby is 5 months old, presumably all of his calories are coming from you. If baby is 11 months old, he is probably getting solid foods in addition to breast milk, and perhaps not taking as much breast milk (therefore, you are burning less calories to make breast milk). Weight Watchers takes the frequency with which you are breastfeeding in to account and allows more/less points based on that.
Weight Watchers membership plans do cost money, but they allow you to try a plan for free for one month and then cancel at a later date if it’s not working for you. With the option of one free month you really have nothing to lose—except weight. Plus, you more than likely do not have time for the gym right now, so consider this your gym membership. With your WW membership, you get access to the comprehensive WW app where you track your food and activity level (and where you enter how much you are breastfeeding), access to WW coaches and support 24/7 for accountability, and—the best thing of all—recipes! Working moms need quick easy healthy meal ideas, and having them at your fingertips through the WW app takes the guesswork out of determining if the chicken recipe you pulled up on Pinterest is actually good for you or not.
We could clearly go on and on for our love of Weight Watchers, but we will let our moms who have successfully lost weight while breastfeeding do it for us…
“I love Weight Watchers! I lost 15 lbs. in the first two months. I didn’t notice ANY drop in supply (which is what I was worried about) so I’m a big fan of how they take breastfeeding into consideration. I’m 5 lbs. away from pre-pregnancy weight and plan to continue on with WW in order to be healthier for my next pregnancy!” – Heidi S.
“I did Weight Watchers and lost 50lbs in 10 months! It didn’t affect my milk supply whatsoever since they allot extra points for breastfeeding. I actually had an oversupply and was able to continue donating milk to a local mama while on WW. I can’t say enough good things about it. It makes losing weight easy. And I need something to be easy in this new baby phase of life!”– Amanda M.
“I am obsessed with Weight Watchers! I am just doing the online program and I love it. I don’t feel like I am starving throughout the day and my milk supply is still great! The app is amazing. It has a social community called Connect that is like Facebook for Weight Watchers users and it helps tremendously for support—especially for working moms who can’t get to meetings in person. You also track everything on your app. I can’t sing WW’s praises enough. It’s amazing and very doable!” – Morgan T.
2. On Demand Workouts to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Since time is somewhat the enemy at this phase of life, many, many working moms turn to on demand workouts in order to lose weight while breastfeeding. Thanks to the internet there are a vast number of options available. Many of our moms try to fit in a quick sweat session after the baby goes to sleep at night or, if the baby is sleeping soundly through the night, waking up early before work. You can also try putting your baby in a pack-in-play by you with some toys in the afternoons while you quickly grab a workout. Take a look at your schedule and see where you may be able to fit 30 minutes in for yourself. It’s just as essential to take care of yourself as it is to take care of your family—even though it’s 1,000 times harder when you are a mom!
The resounding on demand workout favorites from our working moms:
- Beachbody On Demand – Let it be known we are not Beachbody coaches. However, we would be remiss to not include Beachbody On Demand since it was the #1 choice for on demand workouts when we polled our working breastfeeding moms. Most of our moms said they preferred 21 Day Fix workouts, PiYo, 22 Minute Hard Corps, and Autumn’s Pre & Post Natal Fitness. If you have never done Beachbody workouts before, make sure to follow the beginner modifications and are eating a balanced, nutrient dense diet in order to avoid a dip in breast milk supply.
- YouTube workouts – There are thousands of fitness videos available on YouTube with many tailored specifically for postpartum workouts. The channels that popped up over and over again among our working breastfeeding moms were:
- Pure Barre On Demand – Barre was created by a ballerina, and as such incorporates small, controlled movements similar to those found in ballet. Accordingly, Pure Barre is a lower impact workout compared to some of the other options listed above. Most barre fitness classes are hybrids consisting of ballet-inspired moves, Pilates, yoga, and strength training. Several of our moms prefer the small, isometric movements involved in barre for toning their bodies (especially their postpartum stomach) and losing weight while breastfeeding.
- Peloton – Oh, how we want a Peloton bike! This is at the very top of many of our wish lists. If group or instructor workouts are your jam, but you simply cannot find the time to get to a gym during this season of life, a Pelton bike or treadmill is for you. The way Peloton works is that you purchase a bike or treadmill, have it shipped to your home, and then viola: instant access to 90+ live weekly classes and access to Peloton’s extensive on-demand library. It’s the most expensive on demand workout option on this list, but it looks incredible. A few of our moms who own a bike say Peloton is as great as it appears to be. It’s helped them lose weight while breastfeeding, while also getting in quality workouts with their favorite instructors from the comfort of their own homes.
3. Fit Bit + Family Walks
If you are eating right but finding it hard to fit in exercise or any physical activity apart from chasing after your baby, slapping a Fit Bit on your wrist may be your answer to weight loss. Having a Fit Bit allows you to track several different metrics including the number of steps you have taken, hourly activity, calories burned, and your sleep quality (but for this sleep deprived phase of life, we don’t recommend tracking your sleep—it’s depressing!). It also reminds you to walk if you have not had a chance to in a few hours. The Fit Bit also comes with the Fit Bit app which enables you to see all of your data in fancy graphs. You can enter your food into the app similar to the Weight Watchers app, connect with friends, track your exercise, and even set up challenges by competing for more steps against other people.
Setting a goal for a specific number of steps in a day has helped several of our moms lose weight while breastfeeding. The number of steps has varied from 8,000 to 10,000 or more depending on what is realistic for each mom’s life. A mom who is a nurse will have a much easier time of getting 10,000 steps in a day than a mom who primarily works at a computer all day. Once you are able to reach your goal for the number of steps you take in a day, add 500 steps to it and work on reaching a new daily target. Try parking in the back of the parking lot at work so you have to walk farther, take the stairs, go to a bathroom located far away from your desk, take a walk at lunch (if you aren’t pumping), take a quick walk every hour on the hour, just add more steps to everything you do. You will be surprised how many miles you walk in a day just by being intentional about moving more.
Another way that several of our moms have lost weight is by incorporating family walks at the end of the day. This is not realistic for every mom, but if you get home early enough and can get your family fed before bed time, taking a walk after dinner will help you get steps in and serves as a relaxing way to end the day (provided your baby doesn’t scream the whole time!).
4. Stand Up Desk, Stability Ball Chair or Desk Workouts
If you work at your desk all day and find it hard to steal away to go to the bathroom, much less walk take a quick walk, consider a stand up desk. Talk with your boss to see if your company will purchase one for you. There are all sorts of benefits of sit-stand desks including improvements in cardio metabolic risk parameters, and reduced levels of physical fatigue and back discomfort. For working moms, it means that you can perform exercises right at your desk including glute squeezes, calf raises, chair drips, side lunges, ab curls, running in place, etc. You may look crazy doing it, but hey, you gotta get your workout in some time! If you want to take it up a notch in order to really tone your muscles, try standing on a Bosu ball at your standing desk. Talk about multitasking!
If a stand up desk is not an option for you at your workplace, consider bringing in a stability ball to sit on. They are inexpensive and portable, so it is easy to switch in and out with your desk chair. Stability balls work by challenging your body to maintain correct posture and balance so that you do not roll off the ball and onto the floor. By forcing your body to steady itself on top of the stability ball, you trigger core and stabilizing muscles which help improve muscle tone and balance. If you want to take it a step further, you can also get a stability ball chair which provides a bit more structure and heft than a stability ball. Stability ball chairs are actually used in some classrooms in Europe to improve focus and concentration.
See our Pinterest board “Exercise for Working Moms” for more desk workouts you can do at work. Every little bit of workout helps lose weight while breastfeeding!
5. Workout Apps for Losing Weight While Breastfeeding
Similar to on demand workouts, some of our moms find that using workout apps along with tracking their calories through the MyFitnessPal app helps them lose while breastfeeding without affecting milk supply. Workout apps allow moms to work out whenever they can squeeze a workout in. The key to remember here is that you need to make sure are eating enough calories to keep your milk supply up.
The favorite workout apps among our breastfeeding moms:
- Nike Training Club
- 7 Minute Workout apps (There are several to chose from.)
- Beachbody On Demand app
6. Go to bed early + Eat right + Time
This probably goes without saying, but some moms may need to hear it. Sometimes it just takes time, a lot of time, to lose your pregnancy weight. Serena Williams, the tennis superstar who clearly workouts nonstop, did not lose her baby weight until she stopped breastfeeding. Breastfeeding your baby is such a short season of life in the grand scheme of things. You will never get this precious time back, but you will be able to lose weight whenever this time is over (and it will be soon!).
Continue to eat right which means eating a good wholesome breakfast, consuming nutrient dense real foods, drinking water, no sodas (or only 1-2 per week), limit your sugar intake, no fast food, etc. Living by a rule of 80% clean foods and 20% treat foods (like, ahem, Oreos) will allow you lose to weight while breastfeeding without affecting milk supply. It just takes time.
Related article: 4 Staple Lactation Oatmeal Recipes You Should Know How to Make
Also, get off Instagram (or your distraction of choice) at night and go to bed as early as you can. We know how nice it is to veg out after you put the kids in bed and finally relax after a long day. However, it’s also prime time for mindless snacking. Cut that time down a bit, stop the late night snacking (if you aren’t hungry) and get some rest—especially if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night!
Whatever method you chose to lose weight while breastfeeding, make sure to give yourself grace above all else. Your body is amazing. Look at your precious baby every time you doubt that. Losing weight is hard enough for people who do not have babies to feed, a job to work, and a house to keep clean. Adding in all of those factors, ups the ante exponentially. We hope you have found some tactics here that worked for us. Best of luck reaching your weight loss goals. We are cheering you on!
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