Breastfeeding and Losing Too Much Weight

Causes Of Excessive Postpartum Weight Loss

Breastfeeding and Losing Too Much Weight: Excessive Postpartum Weight Loss
It's not healthy to lose too much weight too quickly. Nenad Aksic/E+/Getty Images

Breastfeeding And Losing Weight After Your Baby Is Born

After the birth of your baby, breastfeeding can help you to lose weight and return to your pre-pregnancy body more quickly than if you don't breastfeed. Each time you breastfeed your baby, it causes your uterus to contract and shrink. By six weeks after childbirth, your uterus will be back to the size it was before you became pregnant. 

Additionally, it takes about 500 extra calories a day to make breast milk.

You get those extra calories from your diet, and the fat stored in your body. So, using up your fat stores also helps you to lose that pregnancy weight faster.

How Much Weight Should You Lose?

Immediately after your baby is born, you will lose between 10 to 12 pounds. That's a combination of the weight of your baby plus the placenta and the amniotic fluid. Then, during the first few days, you will lose about 5 pounds of water weight.  After that, it's normal and healthy to lose approximately 2 pounds a month for the next six months.  

Losing Too Much Weight

It is not healthy, however, if you try to get back to your pre-pregnancy weight faster than the recommendation or if you notice that you're losing too much weight too quickly. Excessive postpartum weight loss can leave you feeling exhausted and run down. You may also end up with a low breast milk supply or a supply of breast milk that is lacking in the nutrients that your baby needs.

Here are 3 reasons why you may be losing too much weight:

You May Not Be Getting Enough Calories 

Breastfeeding and producing a healthy supply of breast milk requires a good amount of energy. You get that energy from the foods that you eat. So, don't go on a diet, take diet pills, or cut the number of calories that you take in each day.

Instead, make sure that you're eating a diet that includes a variety of healthy foods to provide you with all the calories and nutrients that you need.

You Might Be Doing Too Much 

Moms do a lot. Between taking care of a new baby, other children, and a home, it's easy to get caught up in all you have to do and forget about taking care of yourself. It's important to take the time to eat right, drink plenty of fluids, and get enough rest.  

You May Have An Overactive Thyroid 

Postpartum hyperthyroidism is a health condition that can cause excessive weight loss, shakiness, palpitations, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, eye problems, exhaustion, and an overabundant supply of breast milk. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and think you may have an overactive thyroid, call your doctor. There are treatments that are safe for breastfeeding mothers. And, once you start treatment, you can begin to feel better. 


American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Baker, Jennifer L., Gamborg, Michael, Heitmann, Berit L, et al. Breastfeeding Reduces Postpartum Weight Retention. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008;88 (6): 1543-1551.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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