Can you lose weight postpartum while breastfeeding?

The best advice is to maintain an active lifestyle even during pregnancy and breastfeeding (quantifiable at least in 10,000 steps a day), preferring your passions and practicing them at moderate intensity, without subjecting yourself to excessive efforts.

Most women reduce or abandon physical activity during pregnancy for fear of unfavorable events on the health of the fetus; this attitude often leads to excessive weight gain, with effects that in the short term manifest themselves as high birth weight, adiposity and alterations of glycemic metabolism in the child.

It has been estimated that women of childbearing potential gain about 700 g of weight per year , and over 5 years, 20% gain enough weight to fall into the category of women with a BMI (body mass index)> 25 kg/m2 therefore overweight. Some studies have shown that there is an association between a high level of education (bachelor’s or master’s degree) and a BMI of normal weight.

Furthermore, it is less easy for overweight/obese women to return to their pre-partum weight, as they tend to regain it again in the third month of breastfeeding.

What is the energy requirement in breastfeeding?

The additional energy requirement of the nurse, linked to breastfeeding, is related to the quantity of milk produced. 2-3 weeks after delivery, the nursing mother usually provides the newborn with 500-600 ml of milk per day, which can later increase up to 850 ml. However, milk synthesis is highly variable from woman to woman and progressively decreases during weaning . Therefore, to produce 850 ml of milk, the nurse needs to increase her daily caloric intake by 500 kcal/day and her protein intake by 21g/day (SINU, 2014) In fact, the mother is expected to make some use of the energy that was deposited in the form of triglycerides during pregnancy. This is in fact the physiological mechanism that allows you to naturally lose weight in the postpartum period; therefore, the reserves accumulated in the previous 9 months will constitute a part of the energy used in the following months .

It is essential during breastfeeding to guarantee the water balance , not only for the purposes of good milk production, but also to help the body regenerate the tissues; in this sense, water remains the best element. According to SINU, an increase in water intake of about 700 ml per day is desirable compared to what is recommended for non-breastfeeding women (2000 ml) .

A recent meta-analysis published by the University of Adelaide (Australia) compared several intervention studies on postpartum women , demonstrating how adopting a balanced diet plan and an active lifestyle are the winning strategy for losing the weight acquired during pregnancy. maternity.

However, there are still no guidelines on the type of business to follow. The best advice is to maintain an active lifestyle even during pregnancy and breastfeeding (quantifiable at least in 10,000 steps a day), preferring your passions and practicing them at moderate intensity, without subjecting yourself to excessive efforts.

For those who decide to change their lifestyle with the advent of motherhood, aware of the risks of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia , the recommendations suggest starting 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity.


Kathryn Barlow is an OB/GYN doctor, which is the medical specialty that deals with the care of women's reproductive health, including pregnancy and childbirth.

Obstetricians provide care to women during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, while gynecologists focus on the health of the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, uterus, vagina, and breasts. OB/GYN doctors are trained to provide medical and surgical care for a wide range of conditions related to women's reproductive health.

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