When Kate Middleton gave birth to her first child Prince George, she became the darling of the media for her amazingly slender post-baby body. Just look at this image below – there is absolutely no sign of a post-baby belly even though her little boy was barely 4 months old when this was snapped.
Where’s Kate Middleton’s post-baby belly?
So what was Kate’s secret? Apparently, it’s breastfeeding! According to The US Weekly, “Kate’s hardly done anything to lose the weight….(she’s) still breastfeeding and the small weight she gained while pregnant has just melted off.”
Is breastfeeding really the answer to help shed those post-pregnancy kilos? Or is it just a statement circulated by health professionals to encourage mums to breastfeed?
As a breastfeeding mum myself, I have experienced both sides of the story with my sons. I breastfed my first-born for 2.5 years and within the first 8 months, lost all my extra pregnancy weight. In fact, I started losing too much weight so I actually had to increase my calorie intake.
My second son is now 19 months and still breastfeeding. Losing weight has been a slower process than than the first time round and I have to do other things like exercise and watch what I eat to maintain a healthy weight.
Can breastfeeding really help you shed those post-baby kilos?
I also spoke to some fellow mums about their experiences of breastfeeding and weight-loss. Here’s what they had to say:
“I didn’t lose weight till I stopped breastfeeding after 2.5years! Even then, its been a struggle. I’m happy for the mums who manage this but it wasn’t a priority for me so I’m happy to go slow on the return to my pre-pregnancy shape.”
“I breastfed for 6 months only…and I did lose weight drastically. I don’t know if the weight loss was due to breastfeeding because after I stopped breastfeeding, I continued to lose weight quickly.”
“I was at my heaviest when I was breastfeeding. Needed all the extra fats and calories to make milk for the baby! Only shrank back to 46kgs when I stopped bf-ing. Different body types do things differently. So Mums who are bf-ing shd not feel bad if they aren’t losing baby weight.”
“I’m still breastfeeding my 11-month-old, and although some people believe that breastfeeding helps us lose weight faster, it doesn’t work for me. I’m hoping to get back to my exercise routine soon…as I think this is the only way that I can lose some weight. But I’m not really in a hurry to lose it all fast, will just take things as it comes.”
It looks like breastfeeding certainly helps some of us lose weight, while with others, it doesn’t really seem to have much of an impact.
Breastfeeding can make you skinny 30 years down the track!
A new British study published in the ‘International Journal of Obesity’ reveals some very interesting information about breastfeeding and weight-loss. The study found out that:
- 6 months of breastfeeding can reduce the risk of obesity as far as 30 years later.
- For every 6 months the women breastfed, their BMI decreased by about 1 percent on average.
The participants of the study mentioned above had breastfed at least 30 years before they took part in the project. So clearly, the benefits of breastfeeding in relation to a woman’s weight is more long-term which is better for a woman’s overall health.
How exactly does long-term weight-loss happen when you breastfeed? According to experts, a possible explanation is the “reset hypothesis”. According to this theory, certain fats accumulate during pregnancy, and insulin resistance increases, along with lipid and triglyceride levels.
But breastfeeding may play a key role in reversing these changes by “resetting” a woman’s metabolism after pregnancy. This could influence a woman’s weight later-on.
Short-term weightloss – breastfeeding is like a workout!
The study mentioned above is one of the first to look at whether breastfeeding has an impact on weight-loss over time. The usual trend has been for more focus to be placed on how breastfeeding can affect a woman’s weight immediately after she gives birth.
According to Jani Combrink, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who works here in Singapore:
“I usually share with my clients that by simply lactating, they are burning between 300 and 500 calories a day – that is similar to a work-out! For most women, the bulk of weight loss happen between months 3 and 6, when baby’s intake peaks.”
The calories that can potentially be burned by breastfeeding equate to what you can lose in an hour on a treadmill!
There’s no doubt that breastfeeding is the best nutritional head-start in life a mother can give her child. And now research is clearly pointing to the health benefits of breastfeeding for mums. Here are some benefits that you maybe didn’t know about.
- The release of oxytocin soon after birth from your baby’s suckling produces uterine contractions which prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
- Breastfeeding mothers can often stay without getting their period for several months, which helps conserve their iron levels.
- Breastfeeding can reduce the risk of various cancers.
- While mums lose calcium while lactating, after weaning, their bone density returns to pre-pregnancy or even higher levels.
As Dr Marilyn Glenville, one of the UK’s leading nutritionists specializing in women’s health says, even though breastfeeding does burn calories, not everyone reacts in the same way. This is why some nursing mums might lose weight rapidly, while others don’t.
Having pointed out all the marvelous benefits of breastfeeding for mums, including weight-loss, there’s absolutely no need to beat yourself up if your post-baby weight is not dropping as fast as you’d like it to, even with breastfeeding.
What is important to remember are the long-term benefits of breastfeeding for both mum and child – and these are not just limited to weight-loss as pointed out above.
But having said this, if you cannot breastfeed for whatever reason, this should not make you feel guilty. All mums do what is best for their babies and each mum’s situation is unique.
For breastfeeding support here in Singapore, visit the Breastfeeding Mums Support Group on Facebook, or speak to your doctor who can guide you appropriately.
Did you lose weight while breastfeeding? Take our poll and let us know!