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Does Breast Feeding Help You Lose Weight?

Posted Jan 27 2010 6:57pm

Salma Hayek has an amazing rack - and I'm not talking about her ability to fill a sweater, er, movie role. They're amazing because of their ability to feed a baby. It's the real secret in Victoria's Secret - breasts are not just fun bags. They also squirt milk. Which I suppose could also be considered fun in some circles. Hey, I don't know what you do with your Friday nights.

But why am I talking about breastfeeding here on a health and fitness blog? (Besides the fact that it's midnight and that always makes me random?) Because of the old adage that breastfeeding will help you lose weight.

Answering Other People's Mail: Round Two
Dear Healthlink,
I had a baby 4 months ago. I 'm breastfeeding, but I really need to lose weight. I need to return to work in about two months and if I don't lose the weight I won't have anything to wear and I can't afford to but a new wardrobe. What can I do?

Healthlink gives a mostly appropriate answer despite being interspersed with little gems like "reduce your intake of all fats" (do they not know what breast milk is made out of??) and "Limit intake of breads" (how about starting with the ice cream or double fudge brownies?) but ends with "women who breastfeed will actually lose weight faster than those who don't."

Lactating = Lean?
Super-skinny celebs like Naomi Watts and Heidi Klum swear that breastfeeding was their key to losing their baby weight in like 0.3 seconds. Salma Hayek begs to differ:

“Yes, and I’m still working on it. I gained a lot of weight, I had gestational diabetes. The pregnancy was really difficult for me. I thought, as soon as this baby is out, I’m just going to lose the weight super fast, because I’m going to breast feed, and everybody tells you that if you breastfeed it’s going to come out like this, it’s a lie! It’s not true.”

“Except for a couple of exceptions, the only reason people lose weight like that when they’re breastfeeding, it’s because they’re not eating and they’re breastfeeding, and this is not good for the baby. You know how they tell you it takes nine months to get it, nine months to lose it? There are shortcuts, but it’s not good for the baby. So I’m taking my time. I’ve lost a lot, most of the weight, and I’m very proud of it because it’s been really hard work studying what kind of food to eat that’s healthy for me, healthy for the baby. But I’m still losing even if it’s slow, and I’ve been working out… and the rest is going to go when it’s time to go.”

Lactating = Ravenous
Mad props to Salma for telling it like it is. The only weight I ever lost breastfeeding was the 8 ounces of milk the little sucker ingested. And that always came back. In fact, my body seems to like to keep about 10 extra pounds of reserve stores while I'm nursing.* Have I mentioned that I give birth to 10-pound babies? That double their weight before 6 months? Apparently my body likes to play it safe with the little butterballs. Or maybe I drank too much hormone-laced (cow) milk while pregnant. Anyhow.

This particular little gem always made me so mad. It's hard enough that people expect you to lose the baby weight the way Paris Hilton loses chihuahuas but it really drives the stake in when people expect it to be easy for you. I know that some women lose weight while breast feeding. I also know that some women have eyelashes that touch their brows without mascara and cellulite-impervious butts.

How about you? Did breast feeding help you lose weight? Or did it just help you lose your breasts when you finished? (Now there's a fun post for another day!) For those of you who don't produce a whole food group out of thin air, what are your feelings about breastfeeding in public? Be honest - does it make you uncomfortable?

*A fact it would be good for me to remember these days in all my freaking out about my Last Ten Pounds.


This post sound familiar? Today is Greatest Hits day here at GFE. This originally ran in March 2008.
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