For every smug ‘oh, the weight just melted off from breastfeeding’ Miranda Kerr types there are just as many realists who will tell you that they held onto those extra pounds and hourly feeds meant they were too plain knackered to hit the gym.
Medical studies are actually inconclusive – despite midwives often pushing weight loss as a key benefit – the 2007 Chung and Raman study showed weight loss post partum to be ‘inconclusive and negligible’.
The basic facts are that it takes 400 calories to make 20 ounces of milk. So the same as running for half an hour.
Or if it’s easier to calculate, 20 calories to make an ounce. 20 calories btw is the same as eating 3 almonds or 84 Cheerios or 4 Skittles…
The WHO recommends nursing mothers increasing daily calorific intake by 500 – so to lose weight by breastfeeding along one would need produce in excess of 25 ounces.
If a newborn consumes around 16 ounces per day – well you can do the math here – if you’re looking to shed pounds via boob milk alone you’ll need to either eat less, wait til the baby consumes more or (controversially, I know) ‘pump and dump’.
PS We’re big fans of the #ISupportYou campaign, promoting positive attitudes however you feed your child.