Can I Diet While Nursing?

Kathleen Tackett's picture

QUESTION

Dear Lactation Consultant,
I have a two-month-old son who is breastfeeding and hopefully will continue to do so for at least a year.

My diet has always consisted of tons of carbohydrates throughout the day. I would like to cut back on them to feel better about myself (sometimes after eating lots of carbohydrates it's hard for me to get up and move around because I feel so full) and to loose some of this after pregnancy weight. I am 5'3" and weigh 150 pounds. I am still about 25 pounds more than before my pregnancy.

My question is will this affect my baby in any way while I am breastfeeding or my milk supply? I have heard mixed reactions from friends about dieting while breastfeeding but cannot find any information from an expert. Could you please help?

Thank you.

ANSWER

What a good question! It is fine to diet while breastfeeding as long as you get at least 1800 calories per day, which should be easy to do if you are just cutting back on carbohydrates.

Your body provides first for your baby, taking what it needs to make the milk from your nutritional stores. Studies done on breastfeeding women in developing nations have found that women produce very good milk supplies on very inadequate diets. In fact, it takes famine conditions for at least several weeks before the quality or amount of milk produced begins to be a concern. In our country, a breastfeeding woman would need to be on an extremely restricted diet or have an eating disorder before it was a problem.Isn't it nice to know that you can feel free to lose the extra weight while giving your baby the best?

-- Nancy, IBCLC