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Breastfeeding: Exercise and Weight Loss

Topic Overview

Keep the following in mind as you start an exercise program or try to lose weight while you are breastfeeding.

Exercise

Being active helps promote weight loss, improves your energy level, and can help you relieve stress. Follow these tips when you start an exercise program while you are breastfeeding:

  • Start out slowly. Walking, swimming, and cycling are all good low-impact ways to begin an exercise program. Gradually build up your time and intensity.
  • Wear a supportive bra. Not all sports bras offer enough support, so try on a bra before you buy it.
  • Eat more calories when you are more active.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you exercise.
  • To ease breast discomfort, breastfeed or pump right before you exercise.

Weight loss

You may gradually lose weight without trying while breastfeeding. The rate and ease of weight loss varies widely. You may lose about 1 lb (0.5 kg) to 2 lb (0.9 kg) a week. Some women find that it takes up to a year to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy.

If you wish to lose weight while breastfeeding, both diet and physical activity have a role. Physical activity or exercise is the safest way to lose weight during this time. Moderate calorie restriction (eating less) may be safe for some overweight women, but breastfeeding women should generally eat more calories. Extreme weight-loss diets should be avoided while breastfeeding. For more information, see the topic Nutrition While Breastfeeding.

Talk to a nutritional counselor, registered dietitian, or your doctor about a safe and healthy diet.

Credits

Current as of: February 11, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control

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