Postpartum weight loss in breastfeeding mothers – Part 2

From the evidence available, it does not seem that diet and/or exercise negatively affects milk volume in postpartum mothers.

A recent review of postpartum weight loss in breastfeeding women concluded that women who diet or diet and exercise lose more weight after giving birth, compared to women who do not diet or exercise. Dieting and exercise however, may be concerning for new moms who are breastfeeding. Prior research is mixed: While some studies show that short-term or mild calorie restriction has no effect on milk production, others conclude that diets that provide less than 1,500 calories per day may decrease milk volume – a common concern among breastfeeding mothers. Likewise, some prior studies have found no effect of a mother who exercises and her milk production or composition; however other studies have found increased levels of lactic acid in the mother’s milk following exercise, which may affect taste and immune qualities of the milk.

The review of postpartum weight loss combined results from studies to determine if diet and/or exercise affected breastfeeding. Authors of the review concluded that, for those who only dieted, there was no effect on milk volume, compared to those who did not diet. Women who exercised did not have any difference in milk volume, nor was there any difference in their infants’ weight gain compared to women who did not exercise. For women who engaged in a program with diet and exercise, there was no difference in milk volume or the likelihood of exclusively versus partially breastfeeding compared to women who had usual care. There was also no difference in the women’s infants’ weight or length gain. These results were only based on four studies in which women were exclusively breastfeeding, and none of these studies examined breastfeeding duration, so there is a need for more research in this area.

From the evidence available, it does not seem that diet and/or exercise negatively affects milk volume in postpartum mothers.

Michigan State University Extension’s Breastfeeding Mother to Mother Program can answer your questions about breastfeeding. For additional information on breastfeeding your baby, go to www.bfi.fcs.msue.msu.edu and look under fact sheets or call a program representative.

For more on this topic read Postpartum weight loss in breastfeeding mothers – Part 1.

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