Written by Coach Juliette and originally posted in the Facebook group on 07/19/2020
This is a topic that comes up A LOT in this group.
There is nothing physiological about breastfeeding that prevents weight loss.
It increases the complexity of the calculation for energy needs, and there are considerations to be made for ALL postpartum bodies (not just lactating ones) that require more frequent adjustments than the general population - and often times people become disheartened with this increased complexity and the necessarily slower pace of postpartum/lactating weight loss - but it is no less effective when these factors are well managed.
The one and ONLY exception to this is for people who have medical circumstances (such as hormonal imbalance, which is very common for postpartum women as the body heals and works to return to stable health after all of the changes from pregnancy) that further complicate the process and could hinder progress – which is why Kristina and I recommend discussing your situation with your doctor if you aren’t seeing the results you hope for when you are consistently adhering to your plan. While the body is more inclined to reserve stored energy (i.e. fat) while breastfeeding, this isn’t an immutable circumstance, and can be managed with a proper plan that takes all the factors into consideration and is adjusted as needed to maximize efforts.
Most often, the reason people feel weight loss while breastfeeding isn’t possible is that they have set unreasonable expectations about what their body is able to accomplish and what kind of timeline it will happen in, and/or fail to recognize all of the components involved in the process. Many women try to rush the process, struggle in one way or another, and then throw out the whole concept all together. Or they try methods that are unsuitable for breastfeeding and fail to see results and give up. Or they place too strong of an emphasis on one or two components at the exclusion of others they deem unimportant. Check out the pinned post and video with our Facebook group for more details.
But if you set reasonable expectations, are kind to yourself along the way, and practice consistency the results WILL come - each and every time.
This isn't something people like to hear, but to achieve a physique you've never had before (or one you've had previously under different life circumstances - i.e. before parenthood) it requires making changes you've never done before. And the reality of life with Littles sometimes means the sacrifices required to get there aren't in the cards for the lifestyle people want.
And it's not always up to Mom alone to make it happen. For example, quality sleep is one of the most difficult things for new moms to get - and chronic poor sleep quality can negatively impact hormone regulation. So sometimes to reach their goals, moms need to rely on partners to take the "night shift" with babies, which can require pumping more during the day, etc. This isn't always feasible given everyone's life circumstances, but it's not a matter of "the process" not working, just that the changes required to reach elite goals aren't ones that work for every family.
In my experience, clients are able to reach realistic goals such as returning to pre-pregnancy weight, or in some cases below, and improving overall strength and fitness while maintaining lactation without such dramatic life changes, but never without changes of one kind or another.