Can breastfeeding make you gain weight?

I have been nursing my three children for almost seven straight years. With my last pregnancy I gained extra weight and have added even more since the baby was born. Could nursing be responsible for this?

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Kathy Kuhn

Kathy Kuhn is a registered nurse who has been working with breastfeeding families since 1981. She has been an International Board Certified... Read more

Studies have shown that breastfeeding women tend to lose weight more rapidly than formula feeders. Mothers who nurse frequently and exclusively over a longer period of time will generally lose more weight than women who breastfeed for less time and supplement with formula. It was also found that women who were overweight before pregnancy tended to lose less weight in the postpartum period than women who were slimmer.

It doesn't seem likely that breastfeeding would prevent weight loss or cause you to gain. Being a new mom is stressful though, which can make some women vulnerable to overeating and weight problems. Most moms with little kids just grab whatever they see (and it may not always be a piece of fruit!).

You might try keeping a food diary and seeing the doctor to rule out any medical causes. The old adage is true: eat less, move more. Most women can safely lose about one pound per week while breastfeeding. Check with your doctor before starting a diet; generally, it's not recommended to go below 1800 calories a day.

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