Breastfeeding mom worried about post-pregnancy weight gain

Donovan GRANT

Monday, December 10, 2018

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Dear Donovan,

I am a university student and a breastfeeding mom to a five-month-old. I gained weight AFTER my pregnancy rather than during. I am 5'3” and weigh 164 pounds — my pre-pregnancy weight was 137 pounds. The majority of my unwanted fat is in my arms and belly region. Any advice on how to go about losing this weight with my hectic schedule?

Wow, being a breastfeeding mom to a five-month-old child and a university student, you have quite a lot on your plate! I have also noticed that you have put on quite a bit of weight after your pregnancy. I must tell you that many women find it difficult to lose weight after pregnancy even while breastfeeding. In addition, many women may even continue to gain weight after giving birth.

I wish you had given me some more information. For example, what are your current eating habits like? Are you exclusively breastfeeding? Are you doing any form of exercise? However, without even knowing these answers there are some factors that could be contributing to your weight gain.

It is a known fact that many women develop low thyroid function during and after pregnancy. It might be a good idea to do a thyroid test to see how your thyroid gland is functioning. In addition, with studies and a five-month-old child there could be many sleepless nights. I have seen a study that showed that women who slept less than five hours per night after giving birth were three times more likely to have kept their baby weight or might have even put on some weight after pregnancy.

Being a new mom and a student can cause the body to release stress hormones which can cause the body to gain or retain weight. Under normal conditions breastfeeding exclusively uses up about 500 calories per day. So with breastfeeding you should be losing weight. However, if your calorie intake is too high, this could also be a factor in why you are gaining weight. That is why I wish you had given me an idea of what and how you are eating.

It is also possible that you are still eating for two. What I would suggest that you do is to start having a healthy, lower calorie diet than the one you were having before. This diet could have more soups, salads, vegetables, vegetable juices, whole grains and good fats like avocados. The idea is to use breastfeeding as well as a reduction in calories to create weight loss. You have enough reserve fat to feed your baby so you should not worry too much about the baby starving.

In addition, you should also try and get in some exercise. Exercise will help you to reduce stress as well as burn some calories. In the meantime, see if you can find any way to reduce the stress of baby and school. Having a good support team to help with the child is important.

Good luck.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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