Pregnancy & Parenting
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Are extra calories while nursing really necessary?


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I'm 27 and mother of two, the newest addition being our 4 month old Gabriel.  I'm 5" 4' and 215 with a goal of my ideal weight of 147 according to my doctor.   

   I am nursing exclusively and taking in about 1800 calories a day.  I walk a very brisk 2 miles a day, 5 days a week and besides running after my two boys try to do aerobic cardio for half an hour at least 3 times a week.  All this and I'm just not loosing.  My doctor has told me I have to consume an additional 500 calories a day while nursing.  Other sites I've read say 330 and other's vary due to the childs age.   And I have to admit to the fact that I don't put much "weight" in the fact that taking in too few calories can actually stop you from loosing.  ESPECIALLY when I'm taking in 1800 already! 

   The site I was redirected to from the "Ask Mary" section of CC told me I have to speak to my doctor after plugging in my information, and I'm assuming it's because I am so overweight they think I'll hurt myself or something rediculous.  Which brings me to my question.  Should I really be taking in more calories then what I am already?  Is taking in more calories while nursing necessary for everyone? Is it really possible to be taking in too few?  I'm paranoid that taking in any more will make me gain back the scant 10 that I have managed to loose in the past 3 MONTHS!!!!! of trying.  I'm frustrated but by no means willing to give up.  I'm planning on talking to my doctor and joining a water aerobics class on top of my 2 mile walk to see if that would do anything.  But I'd like to get a better feel for how many calories I should actually be consuming at this point wither it be more or less any helpful advice would be appreciated.

Edited Oct 08 2008 02:40 by msmysz
Reason: Moved for maximum response
13 Replies (last)

quick answer is yes.  Breastfeeding burns an additional 3-500 calories/day depending on how often you nurse.  

You can try to cut back but watch your supply...if it starts to decrease, then increase your calories again.  Given the fact that you do have some weight to lose, you could probably eat closer to maintenance and be ok, but you really don't want to risk your supply.  This is a short time you have to bf your kiddo...you can work on at least maintaining your loss and then concentrate on losing once you decide to stop bf'ing.

MMmmm, yes.  I don't really have to worry so much about my supply.  I actually have something called hyperlactation, I produce a lot very quickly and let down almost drowns him no joking.  Gabe isn't hurting at all, we call him chunky monkey for a reason ;) Both my boys are top of the charts in both height and weight, my 3 year old still is even now. My OB jokes that I produce pure cream, and my best friend lovingly refers to me as a dairy cow.   So that helps then, I think I'll try cutting a little more.  It's not like I'm not getting full on 1800 I can tell you that!  At this point I'm really just look for a pound a week while I've got nursing on my side.   And I plan to keep on for at least his first year, so I've got time too, Thanks.

Take a look at this link - Nutrition Data - it takes into account whether you are pregnant or lactating when determining the right amount of calories you should consume.

hope it helps!

I think you do need to eat more.   I know it sounds counterintuitive but you on 1800 cals a day with the exercise and breastfeeding is the equivalent of someone else trying to live on sub 1000 cals.   And the difficulties caused by crash dieting and starvation mode are legendary.   Running your stats through the calculator I use I make your maintenance requirement anything between 3000 and 3400 a day.  Which means for weight-loss you should be around 2200 - 2600.

I'd personally recommend you have one day this week where you get a full 3000 calories.  That should kick-start your metabolism back into gear.  Then aim for 2200-2500 a day ongoing, going no lower than 2200.  What have you got to lose?

Boy that's more surprising then I expected.  Where as it was never my intention to be on a crash diet, especially while nursing, I really didn't think that 1800 calories were too few.  My daily goal on CC was actually 2150 without the option of knowing what I should consume while nursing, but I didn't think that taking in a couple hundred under was going to actually STOP me from loosing because I figured the excercise and nursing would keep me going.  Come to think of it, I was on CC once before when I was neither pregnant or lactating about 2 years ago, doing a little more excercise then I am now and eating just under 1500 and had the same results. I started to loose the first few weeks and then stopped altogether and actually gained back the small amount I had lost without changing my diet.  Which of course caused me to get incredibly frustrated and after 6 months of trying and I gave up.   I've never had a kicked up metabolism in my life, in college I could go 3 days on only a bagel and constant supplies of tea without ever feeling hungry (except I was really thin then).  Seems my body might be used to being in that starvation mode without me even knowing it.   OK!  Well I'll try it the way you've suggested and see what happens.

  My weight gain didn't come from my pregnancies,  it was caused before then from a medication I was on for over a year,  in 6 months I had gained 59 pounds, I was devistated and had stretch marks over every inch of my body.  The medication was new in my doctors office and no one had ever "blown up" the way that I had, when I came in after the first 3 months in a panic they said it was "happy married weight" since I was married 2 months after starting the dosing.   When we moved here to PA, the first thing my doctors here did was take me off, but by then the damage had been done.   It was horrible and I've been trying to get rid of it for over 5 years now.  I guess you have to diet altogether differently when you're as big as I am.  Thanks for the advice and the numbers.  I just want to be HEALTHY again!!! I'll post again if I start to see a difference.

Thank you for the link, it shows what GI-Jane was suggesting as well, that apparently I'm just not consuming enough.  That my maintenence is around 3400.  Wow.  Why is it starvation mode doesn't feel like starving?!  HA!  My goal now will be to consume healthy calories spread out though the day instead of binging on bad stuff to make up the rest ;)

Original Post by beinluthien1:

Thank you for the link, it shows what GI-Jane was suggesting as well, that apparently I'm just not consuming enough.  That my maintenence is around 3400.  Wow.  Why is it starvation mode doesn't feel like starving?!  HA!  My goal now will be to consume healthy calories spread out though the day instead of binging on bad stuff to make up the rest ;)

 Hi, I agree with what Gi-jane is saying on an intuitive level only (I didn't read any studies, so can't help you from an academic angle).  When I was pregnant I gained a healthy amount of weight eating pretty well, but when my son was born and I started nursing... well, let's just say that if I tried sticking to the same nutrition plan as during the pregnancy even, I would wake up in the middle of the night with my stomach literally cramping from hunger!  I took that as a sign that I should be eating a little more, and it didn't hurt me at all :).  So good luck increasing your intake, just be reasonable!

As for the excessive milk supply - how often are you nursing now?  I am still nursing my son of 15 months and am down to 1)before bedtime and 2)when he wakes up in the morning.  I may have some tips on decreasing supply - although now that I read the thread above, this is your second, so you prob already know all that.

Good luck anyway! 

definetly eat more!

im 5'4 25 and was 185-190 and consumed 2000-2100 and with barely any exercise i lost down to 165 easy! it just came off- i listened to my body and never didnt eat what i wanted just portioned it and made room in my cals for it!

if u seriously workout that much u should eat like at least 2100!!

im at 151-152 and still nursing my 10 month old and now am on 1600 cals with 30-40 min workouts 3-4 times a week!

good luck!!

Thanks for the encouraging words and the examples of it actually working for you.  I have to say that just this week I've had to seriously redefine what it is to take in calories. And I have to keep my skeptical mind at rest in this case because my entire world focuses on or tells me to take in LESS to loose and I have to rethink everything I do surrounding what eat. 

Thanks to your responses I finally spoke to a nutritionalist on Wednesday and it seems that I've been keeping myself at this weight because of my eating habits.  I wanted to get his option on the information I've found based on some of your suggestions.  He said I'm a very high energy person, rarely sit, and because of it he explained it to me as "I'm eating for a skinny person and have been starving myself for years" all because I didn't know how to eat to loose for a person my size and because everyone around me since I was little has told me what I should or shouldn't be eating because I was always 5 pounds bigger then my twin sister (who is a size 0-2 now... even better ;)  What a headache!  I won't say I didn't cry with frustration, who knew!  I will say thanks again for the responses, its Saturday and I've already seen the scale go down 3 pounds.  3 POUNDS!!!! I haven't seen that much of a drop in 7 years!  And I'm eating almost double what I was last week and actually find that I'm hungry before my next meal.  My whole family hated me my whole life because I just didn't ever get hungry, and now I can understand them, hunger hurts!  I'm praying I'll be able to post more on the loosing.  But thank you all once again for the responses, I wouldn't have changed a thing except to decrease my calories once again and keep myself where I was.  I'll post again if progress continues next week.

Congrats on your 3 pound weight loss!!!  The same thing happened to me after I had my son.  I thought I'd lose weight if I ate less.  Then I found CC and everyone told me to consume more calories.  I actually got to my goal by doing just that!  Stick to your plan, and you'll lose the weight in no time.  Smile

Soooo glad to hear back from you and your experience!! keep us posted, ok?

So here it has been another week.  And I can't even believe that I'm telling you all once again I've seen another 3 pounds come off my body.  Therefore making this the most effective "diet" I've been on in my entire life.   And by diet I mean I'm literally eating more then I probably have since I was in grade school.  I can't believe this,  I've spent my whole life with family, friends and society telling me that I was fat and to eat less.  So I did.... for YEARS, and when I finally did become fat I can only imagine what they thought of me then.  I have never actually believed or taken any stock in the people who say you need to eat more to weigh less mostly because it goes against everything I've ever been told I should be doing.  Moreso I've been eating too little my whole life and I really thought if I just cut back even more I should loose even faster.  I've done so much research and had so many tests done with my family doctor for medical reasons as to why the weight just won't come off.  But since I was never starving and let alone hungry I would never think I was on a "crash diet" or starvation mode so I avoided those probably causes altogether.   I've prided myself in the fact that my OB said with my first pregnancy that "if all my patients took care of themselves as well as you do I'd be one happy doctor".  The problem is I can't think that there's a single person out there who would look at me at my size and think "she's not eating enough".   So once again I will thank you for your encouragment and support.  It really got me thinking in a whole new light and I'm SO happy I finally took those steps to talk to a nutritionalist.   I've had to rethink my way of eating completely and it's working.... REALLY working for the first time in 7 years of trying.  I look forward to getting on the scale each morning.   And the best part is, my husband came up to me last night and said "If I didn't know you were loosing weight, I'd ask you if you were loosing weight, it's getting noticable"  and hugged me.  That was enough to make the past 7 years of failing worth one more good try.   I'm still in shock and nervously anticipating next week.   Thank you all!

Original Post by beinluthien1:

I'm 27 and mother of two, the newest addition being our 4 month old Gabriel.  I'm 5" 4' and 215 with a goal of my ideal weight of 147 according to my doctor.   

   I am nursing exclusively and taking in about 1800 calories a day.  I walk a very brisk 2 miles a day, 5 days a week and besides running after my two boys try to do aerobic cardio for half an hour at least 3 times a week.  All this and I'm just not loosing.  My doctor has told me I have to consume an additional 500 calories a day while nursing.  Other sites I've read say 330 and other's vary due to the childs age.   And I have to admit to the fact that I don't put much "weight" in the fact that taking in too few calories can actually stop you from loosing.  ESPECIALLY when I'm taking in 1800 already! 

   The site I was redirected to from the "Ask Mary" section of CC told me I have to speak to my doctor after plugging in my information, and I'm assuming it's because I am so overweight they think I'll hurt myself or something rediculous.  Which brings me to my question.  Should I really be taking in more calories then what I am already?  Is taking in more calories while nursing necessary for everyone? Is it really possible to be taking in too few?  I'm paranoid that taking in any more will make me gain back the scant 10 that I have managed to loose in the past 3 MONTHS!!!!! of trying.  I'm frustrated but by no means willing to give up.  I'm planning on talking to my doctor and joining a water aerobics class on top of my 2 mile walk to see if that would do anything.  But I'd like to get a better feel for how many calories I should actually be consuming at this point wither it be more or less any helpful advice would be appreciated.

What was your pre-preggers cal intake? You should be adding 300+/- 50 calories to that number. ( Whoops, didn't read your last post! Good for you!)

I started dieting when my son was about 4 months too, and it takes time. Hormones from the breastfeeding and post pregnancy are wreaking havoc on you!

Slow and steady is the best way, so good for you! I just recommended another thread to someone on the P&P topic. Its for breastfeeding moms and weightloss.

 

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