Nursing and Low Carb Diets

Do nursing and low carb diets mix? This is a question many new mothers ask. After a woman has given birth, she is left with the excess body weight that has accumulated during the pregnancy. Some will be overcome with an overwhelming sense to shed the extra pounds as soon as possible. But if you are a breastfeeding mom, then you will need to rethink your strategy before going on a diet.

One of the most important things to remember during this time, is the weight did not appear overnight and it was gained over a course of some months. It will take a little time before you will be at your pre-baby weight and shape. Most of that weight gain was so that your body would have ample reserves for feeding your little one.

 According to the LLLI’s Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition, 2003, it states that breastfeeding mothers tend to lose more weight when their babies are three to six months old than mothers who have formula-fed their babies. Another study stated that breastfeeding mothers at one month postpartum had slimmer hips and weighed less than women whose babies received only formula.

 It has been said that it is safer to wait at least two months after having your baby to purposely lose weight. Your body needs to recover from the birthing process and create a good milk supply for your baby. Many mothers lose weight in the early months by following a normal diet and eating regularly.

 Anyone who wants to start a weight loss program after giving birth, should consult with their physician to pinpoint any health problems that would negate the diet or exercise. Two good books to look into regarding postpartum weight loss and exercise are include: “Eat Well, Lose Weight While Breastfeeding,” by Eileen Behan, RD, as well as “Women’s Bodies, Women's Wisdom,” by Christiane Northrup.

 In regards to following a low- carb diet while nursing, you should know that a breastfeeding mother needs adequate levels of vitamins A, D, B6 and B12 in her milk. A decrease in these vitamins will result in decreased milk supply. It is advised that a breastfeeding mother should intake 1500-1800 calories per day.

There are many low carbohydrate diet plans available, the most famous of these being The Atkins Diet which means that the dieter will be limiting their intake of carbohydrates. When a person follows a low-carb diet, they are in danger of developing a buildup of toxic, acidic chemicals called ketones. These can build up in the bloodstream and this is not good for a breastfeeding mother.

 Many people who follow a low-carbohydrate diet tend to lose weight more rapidly, but in the case of a nursing mother- this rate is too rapid in regards to the production of healthy milk for your baby. If a mother want to follow this plan, they should eat more carbohydrates like fruits and starchy vegetables, which would slow this unhealthy, rapid weight loss. You can follow certain aspects of a low-carb diet, but not as aggressively as you would if you hadn’t just given birth.  A new mother should know that whole grains and other carbohydrates supply them with important vitamins, minerals, as well as energy. This is all essential for a breastfeeding mother.

Some books to consider looking into when you want to know more on nursing and low carb diets include:

The Nursing Mother's Herbal (The Human Body Library) by Sheila Humphrey

Nursing Mother, Working Mother : The Essential Guide for Breastfeeding and Staying Close to Your Baby After You Return to Work  by Gale Pryor

The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins

The Nursing Mother's Problem Solver by William Sears

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