Almost every woman wants to lose weight. This is even truer after the birth of a beautiful child that you’ve anticipated for the previous 9 months. But now that your baby is here and you’re nursing, you might wonder how, or if, you can do low carb breastfeeding. The answer is: yes, you can do low carb breastfeeding to lose weight and no, it will not affect your baby. Read on to find out why low carb breastfeeding will not affect your milk supply.
Breast milk is made on a supply and demand basis. It is NOT made on a diet and demand basis. This means the more frequent your baby is at the breast suckling, the more milk your body will produce. It may take your breast milk supply a few days to catch up to baby’s needs and milk requirements but the human body is a remarkable thing. It knows exactly how much to make and when, but sometimes there are problems.
These problems could arise from improper latching techniques to inverted nipples to a child’s illness (decreased thirst/hunger), or dehydration. Before you can blame your diet for a low milk supply or think that low carb dieting might lower it, ask yourself this. Ask yourself, “Will having pizza tonight increase my breast milk supply?” If you laughed at that question, that means you probably already have a good idea that your diet doesn’t directly impact your milk supply.
Low Carb Breastfeeding Myth
It is a myth that consuming fewer carbs reduces your milk supply. There’s no telltale sign where this myth came from, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. Before carbs were commercially produced in excess quantities (see an article about this here) on factory lines all across the globe, Americans consumed far fewer carbohydrates than we do today. If you go back to caveman days or before formula was invented, mothers strictly relied on breastfeeding to sustain life once their children were born.
Do you honestly believe women sat around in caves or log cabins obsessed with figuring out how to increase their daily carb intake to feed little Johnny? Back then, they didn’t even know what a carbohydrate was. People from those times didn’t even have a clue what a calorie was, but they (mothers) did know how to increase milk supply naturally. The best way to do that is by putting your baby to the breast more often, but that’s not always possible.
Water increases your milk supply. Now, we all know that breast milk is liquid, so it only makes sense that we need to ensure we are taking in enough liquid, staying properly hydrated. OnlyTheBreast.com notes that approximately 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, and that hydration is a major factor in milk production.
When you sweat an abundant amount or have had chronic diarrhea or urination due to a health-related illness (think athletes or food poisoning or a stomach bug), your body quickly becomes dehydrated. Notice the word chronic, as in: frequent. Wouldn’t you agree that you nurse your baby frequently? Most babies nurse every 2-4 hours, at least until they’re old enough for jarred baby food or table food. Even then, your baby may nurse frequently for comfort.
All that nursing takes a lot out of moms, calorically speaking and in regards to hydration. Picture a plant that has dry soil in a nice clay pot on your front porch. You water it so that it doesn’t die, but your neighbor hates that plant. So they come over when you’re not looking and poke a hole in the bottom of the pot, causing all the water to flow out of the pot, leaving the soil with no moisture. Now your plant is dry and might die.
No, you won’t die, but you get the point. When your baby nurses, it’s like poking the hole in that flower pot, allowing all of the water to leave the soil. All of your fluid (water) is leaving the breast everytime sweet little Suzie nurses.
How many carbs should you have while breastfeeding?
That depends. Some moms, especially ones who are doing keto, are a stickler and stay under 20 net grams of carbs per day. They lose a ton of weight and their babies fill out quickly, growing nice and strong. Sure, they might consume an extra 200-500 calories per day to accommodate their nursing bodies since your body burns more calories while producing milk, but they still produce plenty of milk for baby.
Other moms find it difficult to achieve this and might try to aim for 50 net carbs per day. Some might even stay under 100 net carbs per day. You might want to be advised that this is the amount of carbs that most people eat to maintain weight, though you might still lose weight by cutting back to this amount. This is especially true if you like to drink soda or eat a high-carb diet (potato chips, cake, cookies, popcorn, potatoes, etc). Write down everything you would normally eat if you weren’t “thinking” about dieting. You’d be surprised to learn that you were likely consuming a few hundred carbs per day.
How do you ensure your milk supply doesn’t dwindle while low carb breastfeeding?
Aside from drinking plenty of fluids (water) and eating healthy, you can nurse baby more frequently to stimulate milk production, and you can pump in between nursing sessions. Whether you’re a stay at home mom or a working mother might depend on the type of pump that’s right for you. One thing that we’ve kept in mind is effectiveness when it comes to low carb breastfeeding. How quickly a pump can drain the breast in the most effective way, by collecting as much milk as possible in the shortest amount of time. We’ve put together a few of our top picks that include electric and manual breast pumps so there’s something for every budget that delivers quality and convenience.
Click on any below for a full review to see what other moms said about these breast pumps.
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