Does Breastfeeding Make You Lose Weight?

We have all seen those moms on Twitter or Instagram who have proudly posted a picture of their perfectly proportioned baby bump. Most of us have been blessed with healthy, beautiful children, which has surely made us feel that feeding them is the most important thing in the world. However, have you ever thought about the long-term impact that breastfeeding has on your child’s weight?

A new study from the United Kingdom suggests that there may be more than one way to reduce your child’s weight. The study found that whilst there is no question that breastfeeding helps to reduce a baby’s weight, it also increases the risk of obesity in later life. How can this be?

Let’s take a closer look.

Why Does Breastfeeding Make Your Baby Thin?

For years, we have been told that breastfeeding is the best way to keep our babies healthy, which is reflected in the advice offered by experts and mothers alike. Breastfeeding has long been recommended as a way to reduce your baby’s risk of infections, particularly those that could lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In addition to this, it has been suggested that the act of breastfeeding puts your baby in a better mood, which can result in less fussiness and a more peaceful sleep.

These are all very valid reasons for breastfeeding, and in most cases, they are all good reasons for continuing to do so. However, what happens when these reasons are outweighed by other factors?

In this case, it would be beneficial to wean your baby early, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This would lessen the chance of your child being affected by obesity in later life, whether it be as a result of an overly-indulgent parenting style or a genetic predisposition towards weight gain.

Early Weaning Increases The Risk Of Obesity

As well as potentially lessening the chances of your child being obese in later life, early weaning and no breastfeeding reduces the risk of your child developing nutritional deficiencies. According to the UK study, early weaning and no breastfeeding increased the risk of obesity by 86%, as compared to those who were either exclusively breastfed or partially breastfed for between 3 and 6 months. The reasons for this are two-fold: firstly, early weaning reduces the amount of human milk your baby consumes, so there is less chance of them getting the essential nutrients they need to grow healthy bones; secondly, the act of breastfeeding helps to develop a taste for nutritious foods, such as meat and vegetables, which is important for a growing child’s diet. As a result of this, it may be beneficial to wean your baby as soon as is practical and continue feeding them nutrient-rich foods to ensure they grow up healthy and strong.

Whichever way you decide to go, being a parent is already challenging enough, so why make things more complicated? Make sure you bring plenty of bottles, as part of your baby’s hospital kit, for those inevitable times when your milk doesn’t come in easily, or when they have to be fed on the move. If this is the case, then a travel pillow could be useful to ensure they remain comfortable while enjoying those awkward parent-child dances at the airport.

Ultimately, it is always a personal choice as to what works best for your family unit. For some, staying in close contact with your child during those early childhood years may be the best way to ensure their health and wellbeing. On the other hand, others may prefer to wean their baby and put more emphasis on their own health and wellbeing, without the need for as much contact as before. Whatever your reasoning, it’s important to remember that whatever you decide, it’s what’s best for your family unit, and you should always feel confident that you are making the right choice for your baby.