Weight Gain After Stopping Breastfeeding: Reasons & Tips to Avoid

Gaining Weight After Stopping Breastfeeding – Is It Common?

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Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
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You’ve probably heard of how breastfeeding burns about 300 to 500 calories every day. This surely may have seemed to you a great way to start shedding that pregnancy weight. But on the flip side, you may also have heard that many moms gain weight after they stop breastfeeding the baby. So, is rapid weight gain after stopping breastfeeding common? Is it something that you need to worry about?

Discovering about gaining weight after stopping breastfeeding is a common concern. In this article, we will look at the potential reasons behind weight changes after stopping to breastfeed and learn how to manage it.

Video: Weight Gain After Stopping Breastfeeding – Reasons & Tips to Avoid It

Will You Gain Weight Once You Stop Nursing?

Weight gain in breastfeeding mothers is quite common, and this may be due to a combination of reasons, including increased calorie intake, lower calories burnt, and hormones. Hormonal changes that happen within your body right from the minute you get pregnant continue even after delivery and until you wean your baby. These hormones are responsible for quite a few body changes in pregnant women, even once you stop breastfeeding.

Will You Gain Weight Once You Stop Nursing?

This, however, may not be the case with mothers who exercise while and after breastfeeding and are conscious about their diet and calorie intake.

What Causes Weight Gain After Weaning Your Baby?

Did you gain weight after stopping breastfeeding? Here are a few reasons for this gain:

  • You are eating more calories than you burn. While you were breastfeeding, your body needed added calories to sustain milk production. Your eating habits and portion sizes increased as a result of this. Once you stopped breastfeeding, you may not have cut down on the calories that you consume. Without breastfeeding to burn the additional calories, your body is taking in more calories than it can burn.
  • Prolactin is a hormone that is released during lactation in women. Once you stop breastfeeding, this hormone, known to reduce the metabolism of fat, only decreases gradually. This may have caused a few extra kilograms.
  • You aren’t exercising enough to burn the extra calories off. As mentioned, you may still be eating as you did when you were breastfeeding. All that food, without any exercise, can cause you to pack extra kilograms.

Hormonal changes only rarely cause weight gain after you stop breastfeeding. So, it is quite possible to attribute the weight gain to the increased calorie intake and lack of exercise. There are no inclusive studies that may help us identify the true cause behind post-breastfeeding weight gain.

How Long Does It Take for Hormone Levels to Balance After Weaning From Breastfeeding?

After weaning from breastfeeding, hormone levels typically start to balance within a few weeks to a few months. The exact duration varies depending on individual factors such as the mother’s health, how long she breastfed, and her body’s unique response to weaning. Generally, it usually takes about four-six weeks for hormones to regulate after the end of breastfeeding. Initially, the hormone prolactin, responsible for milk production, decreases, leading to suppressed lactation. Simultaneously, oxytocin, the hormone that aids milk release, declines, affecting the let-down reflex.

This hormonal shift may result in mood swings, engorgement, or changes in menstrual patterns. Patience and self-care during this transition are essential. If concerns persist or seem unusual, consulting a healthcare professional is advisable for personalized guidance.

Tips to Avoid Weight Gain After Breastfeeding

If you’re about to wean your baby and want to keep that extra weight off, here are some tips for you:

Tips to Avoid Weight Gain after Breastfeeding

  • Eat healthy snacks to provide your body with those additional 500 calories while breastfeeding.
  • Once you get consent from the doctor, start moderate exercises for 15 minutes per day. You can increase the duration gradually.
  • Incorporate a healthy diet and control your calorie intake. Avoid rapid weight loss diet.
  • Listen to your body’s signs. Eat as per your appetite and avoid overeating.
  • Set realistic goals. Don’t think that you have to lose all the weight within a stipulated time. Starting gradually, give your body time to readjust to the new diet and routine.
  • Change your lifestyle. Exercising is great to lose weight. But if you cannot exercise, for whatever reason, at least start taking the stairs or going on a short walk each day.
  • Be mindful of how much you eat and only eat until you are satisfied.
  • Try some fun workout ideas that can be done along with the baby.
  • Stay active whenever possible. For instance, walking to a place instead of using the car.

Effective Exercise to Lose Weight After You Stop Breastfeeding?

Looking for some exercises to lose those extra kilos as you have stopped breastfeeding? Here are some workouts you can try.

1. Cardiovascular Exercises

Activities like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or dancing can help burn calories and promote weight loss.

2. Yoga or Pilates

These exercises can help improve flexibility, reduce stress, and promote mindfulness, which may aid in weight loss by managing emotional eating.

3. Core Exercises

Strengthening your core muscles can improve posture and stability. Try exercises like crunches, bicycle crunches, leg raises, and plank variations.

Best Ways to Avoid Stress After Stopping Nursing

Some of the best ways to avoid stress once you stop breastfeeding are:

1. Don’t Overdo

Take things slowly after you stop breastfeeding. Trying to do too much too soon can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed.

2. Concentrate on Yourself

Take out time for yourself when adjusting to life without breastfeeding. Whether taking a relaxing bath or reading your favourite book, schedule some “me” time.

3. Talk to Other Moms

Connecting with other moms like you can help you feel less alone and stressed about the transition.


1. Does the Frequency of Breastfeeding Before Stopping Impact the Chances of Experiencing Weight Gain?

Breastfeeding more frequently may affect postpartum weight retention. A study found that pregnant women who exclusively breastfed their children for a long time (at least three months) experienced less pregnancy weight retention.

2. Is It Possible to Produce Milk Years After Weaning From Breastfeeding?

After weaning the baby off breast milk, some women may continue to experience milk discharge for up to two or three years. Both breasts are typically affected by the discharge.

Many women may find that they gain weight after stopping breastfeeding, which can be concerning. Weight gain after weaning is often quite easy to reverse if you stick to a good diet plan. But, if you are gaining a lot of weight and have blurred vision or other symptoms, a doctor’s visit is essential.


1. Muna J. Tahir, Jacob L. Haapala, Laurie P. Foster, et.al; Association of Full Breastfeeding Duration with Postpartum Weight Retention in a Cohort of Predominantly Breastfeeding Women; National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520964/; April 2019

2. After weaning – what next?; .laleche.org.uk; https://www.laleche.org.uk/after-weaning-what-next/

3. Changes That Come with Weaning; texashealth.org; https://www.texashealth.org/baby-care/Breastfeeding/changes-that-come-with-weaning

4. Breastfeeding – deciding when to stop; betterhealth.vic.gov.au; https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/breastfeeding-deciding-when-to-stop

5. Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress; mayoclinic.org; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368

Also Read:

Smart Ways to Lose Weight while Breastfeeding
How Many Calories Does Breastfeeding Burn
Things to Know About Exercising while Breastfeeding

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