Pregnancy can take a massive toll on a woman’s body and we understand the recuperating process is a long one.
Moreover, there’s the pregnancy weight, enlarged breasts and other physical changes, which the new mums may want to lose at the earliest and get back in shape.
This is a great idea and motivator to stay healthy. New mums need to follow a nutritious and healthy diet, as well as integrate exercise and more activity in their day-to-day life that will help them recuperate better and also take care of their little one with ease.
While there are several ways you can lose weight after childbirth, some women believe in opting for intermittent fasting. Essentially, this diet involves eating after long intervals and creating a calorie deficit in your diet. Your body then consumes the stored fat to gather energy forcing all that extra kilos to drop out of your system over time.
While this may work on regular women with ease, a post-pregnancy diet isn’t as direct as one would hope. New mums are also responsible for breastfeeding the baby. In that case, does intermittent fasting during breastfeeding make sense? Can it harm the baby’s nutrition? And should you do it in the first place?
We answer all your queries and debunk some myths about intermittent fasting during breastfeeding.
Intermittent Fasting During Breastfeeding: Worth The Effort?
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Sadly, there’s no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ kind of response to this question. There isn’t too much research done on the topic, which means there is little data to analyse and determine the outcome.
What experts do agree upon is that your body will also throw signs when it is not comfortable, if you choose to follow intermittent fasting.
Dietician Kristin Gillespie tells Parade, “Intermittent fasting can be done safely during breastfeeding but it is important that it is done correctly and cautiously. Otherwise, it can be harmful as it restricts not only mum’s nutrients but also baby’s.”
Gillespie recommends that you not follow the ultra restrictive methods when it comes to intermittent fasting during breastfeeding. This includes the 5/2 method and even the 16/8 method.
The dietician suggests following a shorter fasting cycle when breastfeeding so that you do not end up depriving your body of nutrition.
Mums also need to work with a nutritionist to ensure that they and the baby get adequate amount of nutrients despite the weight loss process. Gillespie also says that nutrient-dense foods are key during intermittent fasting.
This includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
She also warns that you must never try intermittent fasting when pregnant as it can be harmful to both, the mum and baby.
Does Intermittent Fasting During Breastfeeding Affect Milk Supply?
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While intermittent fasting during postpartum can be done with checks and balances, there is also a concern about the breast milk supply for the baby. Would the mum create less milk if she chooses to not eat for long hours?
The short answer is ‘No.’
Studies indicate that the output of milk remains the same despite the fasting process.
Malnourished women in third-world countries managed to produce the same amount of milk as the ones with a regular diet. It needs to be noted the research done was during the month of Ramadan, which is considered a religious period for Muslims and requires them to fast from sunrise to sunset. The study though does not involve more traditional forms of fasting.
Breast milk supply, however, could drop when there is a drop in the mum’s energy levels.
When she feels hungry, irritable or fatigued, it can result in lower milk production, which will affect the baby who may not latch on to the breast for long.
Breast Milk Quality Could Be Compromised
Another factor that mums should know is that the quality of breast milk could be compromised. Intermittent fasting can cause nutrients in the milk to change slightly.
Experts suggest that during intermittent fasting, there might be changes in milk osmolality, potassium, and even lactose levels. This indicates lack of nutrition and affects the mother’s health and even her ability to properly synthesize milk.
Post-pregnancy weight can be lost in a lot of ways beyond intermittent fasting.
Some of the safer ways to do so include following a healthy diet and exercise routine. Counting calories can also help you shed the extra kilos, while also following a more active lifestyle after childbirth recovery.
This will not only help you take care of yourself but also of your baby while ensuring you meet all the nutrient requirements.
Intermittent fasting may be ideal for some mums to lose the post-pregnancy weight but do ensure that you follow a dietician recommended process. At the same time, do consult your gynaecologist so that it is safe for your health in the long run.
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