Is Breastfeeding causing you to gain weight?
Gaining Weight While Breastfeeding?
During my pregnancy I gained less than 10lbs. However, after having my son I was packing on the pounds continuously as the weeks went by. I was so busy adjusting to life as a new mom that by time I noticed my clothes didn’t fit the same. I was reduced to wearing stretchy yoga pants all the time, because I packed on 22 more pounds post baby. Here are 5 reasons you may see your scale climbing after baby despite breastfeeding.
1. You may have Diastasis recti: I was several months postpartum, and my stomach had not gone down much in size much despite all the promises of breastfeeding, helping your uterus to contract, and therefore reducing your waist size. I still looked five months pregnant and I was 3 months postpartum. After a quick in office examination by my OBGYN I was diagnosed with Diastasis Recti a condition that causes the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles in your abdomen. These muscles naturally separate during pregnancy, to make room for the baby. However, when they do not return to their natural state the remaining gap causes your belly to pooch out significantly. Diastasis Rectiis common in women who are over 35, and deliver a baby with high birth weight,or multiples. I checked both boxes with my age and son being over 9lbs at birth. To treat this my OBGYN referred me to a Physical therapist who told me I had a 3.5 separation. To learn more about this condition and how I fixed it, you can check out our blog post on Diastasis Recti.
2. Your Hormones are working against you: Your body produces different hormones in different amounts in order to make a tiny human and bring them into the world. These hormones fluctuate and change you and your body physically. One hormone your body produces more of is prolactin a hormone produced in the pituitary gland. It promotes lactation (breast milk production) and is responsible fora wide range of functions in the body, including suppressing your metabolism in order to maintain lactation hence the weight gain.
3. Stress and lack of sleep: That's actually two but they go hand in hand. Shedding pesky pounds is no longer as simple as calories in vs. calories out like most trainers and nutritionist tell you. I lost most of my baby weight easily at first, but then started gaining while nursing although I maintained a pretty healthy diet post pregnancy. I went to my doctor who ran a bunch of blood tests and was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, which is very common among breastfeeding moms. Your adrenal gland that secretes hormones for your body are often fatigued after months of sleep deprivation on top of producing milk. When this happens, your body starts secreting cortisol, a stress hormone, responsible for carbohydrate metabolism. Cortisol supplies your body with fast energy, for those stressful situations like running away from a predator, lifting a car and any other prehistoric emergency. It also stimulates insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels. Your body can produce cortisol in high amounts to try and deal with the stress on your body from labor,nursing, and recovery. High cortisol levels are directly related to fat gain. Counting calories won’t help you lose weight if your cortisol levels are out of control.Its Important to take a minute for yourself. Allow others to help you and try to get as much rest as you can.
4. Sedentary: Its no secret babies make everything that much harder, including even taking a walk. My son hated the car seat so much a 15-minute stroll around the neighborhood was that much harder. He would scream until he was gasping for air and throwing up. If it weren’t for a baby carrier strapped to myself or my husband, I wouldn’t have made it. That being said besides rocking in a chair or bouncing on a exercise ball, that is all the exercise I got. This is why it is so important to stay active during pregnancy and if you can be in the best possible shape pre-pregnancy. A simple fitness tracker with sedentary alarm can help you get moving.
5. Imbalanced Diet: As a new Mom you often put yourself on the back burner to babies demands eating whatever you can, whenever you can. It can be tempting to eat what is fast and convenient, instead of nutritious food to fuel & help heal your body. During our pregnancy we are more conscious of what we put in our mouths, no alcohol, limited caffeine, and goodbye to beloved sushi. After we give birth, all that conscious eating goes out the window. However, what we eat is just as important after baby, especially if you're breastfeeding. What you eat is important for both your recovery and your baby. Although you’re not “eating for two,” anymore your body needs to restore a lot of important nutrients, it lost during pregnancy or while nursing. If you are like me and lost a lot of blood during your delivery, it’seven more important you eat a well-balanced meal and take an iron supplement.
If your body feels like its being starved or lacking in nutrition, it tends to tuck away those extra layers of fat for a rainy day, especially around the mid-section. Remember your body prioritizes your baby and will not let them starve. Logging your meals or having an accountability partner can help you remember to eat or even prep a nutritious meal for you. My husband was a lifesaver in this department. He was literally hand feeding me while I nursed our son. Chances are you won’t be spoiled like this again so eat up.
Adjusting to your new post baby body isn’t always easy, and society sure doesn’t give you any breaks, but give yourself some grace (a lot) and time to heal physically, emotionally,and mentally. Most of all pat yourself on the back you are one amazing Tiger for all that you have been through. You and your baby are walking Miracles and that's the most beautiful thing on earth.