How Many Calories Does A Mother Burn during Breastfeeding?

How Many Calories are Burned in Breastfeeding

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Shruti Kainth (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Breast milk is the complete source of nutrition for a baby in the first six months of his life; it provides the necessary vitamins, fats, and minerals a baby needs for his proper growth and development. It also strengthens a baby’s immune system. If you’re a new mom, you must be well aware of the fact that breastfeeding offers immense health benefits to a baby, but do you know that it is also beneficial for a mother? Breastfeeding your little one can help you burn calories. If you’re looking to lose postpartum weight, you’re obviously curious. Find out how many calories are burned while breastfeeding and if (and how) breastfeeding can help you lose weight.

How Many Calories Are Burned by Breastfeeding?

If you feel drained out after a breastfeeding session, it might be due to the fact that your body loses a substantial amount of calories while breastfeeding. The average calories burned from breastfeeding in a day may range from 300 to 700 calories. As soon after the birth of your baby, you may be roughly burning some 300 calories in a day because of your baby’s limited milk demands but as your baby grows the milk supply increases and thus you may burn up to 700 calories in a day. In other words, the amounts of calories that you may burn may depend on your nursing stage. The milk your body produces is directly proportional to your baby’s demands. Your body may burn calories to produce milk, and if your baby feeds frequently, then you may burn more calories in comparison to a mother whose same age baby does not breastfeed that much.

Why Does Breastfeeding Burn Calories?

Breastfeeding is great for you to get rid of all the extra pregnancy weight. But if you think that it is breastfeeding that makes you lose weight, then that’s not true because it is the strenuous process of milk production that requires so much work. In order to make an ounce of milk, your body burns approximately 20 calories and if you are feeding roughly 20 to 30 ounces of milk in a day to your baby then you may easily burn 400 to 600 calories, which is quite a substantial amount of calories. Therefore, to compensate for the lost calories, a breastfeeding mother is required to consume extra calories.

Mothers not only burn calories from breastfeeding but they also derive many health benefits from it. It is seen that mothers who practise breastfeeding for more than six months are at a lesser risk of having breast cancer later in their life. Also, mothers who suffer from gestational diabetes are less likely to have type 2 diabetes later in life if they practise breastfeeding soon after birth.

Why Does Breastfeeding Burn Calories?

How Many Extra Calories Should a Breastfeeding Mother Consume?

A breastfeeding mother requires a whole lot of calories because she is producing milk for her baby and that drains her body to a great extent. So, the question here is how many calories per day does a breastfeeding mother require? We have learnt from the above section that on an average a breastfeeding mom burns some 300 to 700 calories in a day through breastfeeding. This means in order to pep her body’s lost calories she needs to consume extra calories. A woman, who is neither breastfeeding nor pregnant consumes roughly 1800 to 2000 calories in a day, though this may vary according to her age, height and how active she is. However, as soon as a woman becomes pregnant, the doctor may advise her to include approximately 300 more calories in her diet in a day, and this may further increase to 500 calories a day when she begins breastfeeding her baby. Therefore, when you start breastfeeding, you should consume approximately 2200 to 3000 calories in a day. When you are nursing a newborn baby 8 to 10 times a day your body needs more calories, and then you may gradually decrease your calorie intake as your baby grows and when he may start taking solid foods or formula milk.

Will Breastfeeding Help You Lose Weight?

Breastfeeding offers immense health benefits for the mother too, as it not only reduces postpartum depression but also reduces the risk of diabetes, breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers too.

Apart from all this, breastfeeding a baby is the nature’s way of getting the mother to lose all that extra pregnancy weight and get back in shape too, but there is not enough scientific evidence that states the same. In one of the studies conducted on breastfeeding moms, it was observed that mothers to exclusively breastfed and those who breastfed partially lost considerable amounts of post-pregnancy weight in comparison to mothers who fed formula milk to their babies. Also, only relying on breastfeeding and not controlling what you eat and not doing enough exercise may affect your health adversely. Thus to lose all that extra pregnancy pounds, you not only have to eat a healthy diet, but you also need to exercise your way through healthy weight loss. On the other hand, if you have seen an upward trend in your weight that is you may be gaining weight in spite of breastfeeding, this may indicate that you need to lower your calorie intake.

Healthy Diet Required During Breastfeeding

A breastfeeding mother is required to make healthy choices when it comes to adding calories to her diet. You can’t eat unhealthy foods and snacks in your nursing period as your baby won’t get enough nutrition for his optimal growth and development. You should eat a 300 to 400 calorie snack every few hours to replenish your body’s energy resource. A cup of unsweetened yoghurt, a glass of milk, a fruit or a handful of nuts is a great snacking option in between the meals. Also, keep yourself adequately hydrated. If you do not consume ample amounts of water not only will it hamper your milk supply but it will also make you dehydrated. Keep drinking water and other fluids at regular intervals. Keep a tab on the colour of your urine, in case it turns a darker shade of yellow, you may be suffering from dehydration. Also, your doctor may recommend you some multi-vitamin tablets to compensate for your added nutritional requirements.

Healthy Diet Required During Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is beneficial for both mother and baby. It can help you burn calories, but to stay energized, you will need to eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. If you want to lose weight while breastfeeding, get in touch with a doctor and a nutritionist to learn what you can do lose weight in a healthy way.

Also Read: Breastfeeding Myths & Facts

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