Intermittent Fasting & Breastfeeding: My Experience

Intermittent Fasting & Breastfeeding: My Experience

Intermittent Fasting & Breastfeeding: My Experience

*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor am I advocating Intermittent fasting and breastfeeding without your doctor and pediatrician’s consent and support. Everyone’s situation, needs, and health are different. I am simply sharing my experience while I was under the guidance of a doctor.* 

I have a really hard time losing weight while breastfeeding. Like instead of losing weight, I gain it. While other women waste away while breastfeeding, I’m voraciously downing the last cupcake. One thing that helped turn this around was practicing intermittent fasting (IF) following my 4th pregnancy and birth. Honestly, it was perfect for me. No I didn’t lose a ton of weight quickly (because that would not be healthy or easy to maintain), but I reversed the trend of all my previous pregnancies and have slowly and continuously lost weight.

My Struggle

After each birth, I would try to lose weight, but I always had trouble losing while breastfeeding. Since breastfeeding is amazing and I love it, I refused to let my weight interfere with what was best for my baby (check out my post for tips on setting yourself up for breastfeeding success). Once I stopped nursing, losing weight was a lot easier, but then I’d get pregnant within about 5 minutes (I had 4 girls in under 5 years). After the birth of my 4th and last child Dec 2016, I was bound and determined to do it. I was going to finally overcome my inability to lose weight while breastfeeding. After getting the okay from my doctor, I had joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, tried to eat healthy, and worked my butt off for weeks and weeks. But my weight did not budge. It was so depressing.

Then, I came across intermittent fasting while researching healthy eating, which was my main struggle. It was a revelation. There are so many health benefits to IF, it’s unreal (e.g. fat loss, increased lifespan, lower ideas risk etc). I wanted to do it, but couldn’t find anything substantial about intermittent fasting AND breastfeeding. I didn’t want to risk my milk supply or quality, but I didn’t want to wait a year to lose weight. But then I thought: women throughout history have successfully breastfed with limited food supply and in various circumstances. How could a couple extra hours of fasting a day impact my milk supply? intermittent fasting and breastfeeding

Talking to the Doctor

At my baby’s 3-month visit, I decided to ask the pediatrician about it. My milk supply was well established and my baby and I were in a great routine. My pediatrician has always been very involved in my nutrition when I am breastfeeding, making sure I am getting all the vitamins and nutrients I need so my babies get what they need. She is very current on research and very concerned with healthy living. She was the perfect one for me to talk to. I honestly figured that she would say no out of extreme caution. But she was really supportive of my plan to fast daily for 16 hours (mostly while sleeping). I was going to eat between noon and 8:00pm each day while focusing on drinking lots of water and eating healthy. I started the very next day.

Managing Intermittent Fasting and Breastfeeding

I woke up around 7:00am and got busy taking care of my kids. I wasn’t going to eat until noon, so I tried to stay busy. Honestly, that’s not hard as a mom, amirite? After the morning routine, we went to the gym. By the time I got my kids checked into the kid’s center, worked out, ruined my children’s lives by making them stop playing with their friends, and drove home it was almost noon! I was definitely ready to eat and prepared a nice big meal. Then I ate 3 meals between noon and 7 and made sure to be done eating at 8:00pm.  I continued this and by about day 4, it was no big deal waiting til noon to eat. It was really easy to adjust to IF. Eating during an 8 hour window is so doable!

THE RESULTS

My Milk Supply

To my pleasant surprise, my milk supply was unaffected by the fasting. I had plenty of milk and I noticed no change in nursing whatsoever. My baby didn’t seem affected one bit. At times when I’ve lost weight more quickly–months after beginning IF–I have noticed a slight drop in supply, but that seems unrelated to IF. As of right now, I have a very healthy 100% breastfed 11 month old.

Weight Loss

The weight immediately began to come off at about a pound a week, which is perfect. I have lost 25 lbs so far and consistently lose about 1/2 – 1 lb a week. And I wasn’t necessarily drastically changing what I was eating right off the bat. But it helped me get in control of my eating–which was key for me on my weight loss journey. Since beginning, I have changed my eating habits a lot. But it’s been a really natural and gradual progression which means that it’s a change that is easy to maintain.

Changing Habits

I never struggled to exercise–I love it. But breastfeeding makes me feel like I am starving ALL THE TIME. It was hard to control my eating because I want to eat everything in my sight. With intermittent fasting, I felt like I took back control of my eating habits. It became easier to start making better food choices. Now I rarely eat sugary foods when before I ate them daily. It’s been a really natural transition into healthy eating habits.

A few months in, I started waking up at 4:00am and immediately exercising, which totally threw off the schedule since I couldn’t very well wait to noon to eat. I stopped intermittent fasting for a time while I adjusted to my new schedule. But I am back I mostly eating between 7:00am and 5:00pm. Often, I stop eating at 3:00pm. Overall, intermittent fasting is easy and has been a great way for me to build healthy eating habits. It was an important early step for me in taking back my health. If it interests you and you are breastfeeding, by sure to consult with your doctor first. Good luck!

-Erin SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave

SaveSave

6 Essential Tips for Breastfeeding Success

6 Essential Tips for Breastfeeding Success

*This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience (which means that, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission)  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

6 Essential Tips for Breastfeeding Success

 

Breastfeeding is hard. Magical, beautiful, bonding, and–for many moms, including myself–really, really hard when first starting out. In fact, only about 60% of moms who start breastfeeding actually continue for 6 months or more. Many moms want to continue, but it becomes overwhelming. While you should expect some difficulty at the start, setting yourself up for breastfeeding success as early as you possibly can will help eliminate a lot of the frustration and increase your chances of nursing as long as you want to with both you and your baby reaping the benefits.

 

But the tricky thing about breastfeeding is it’s not something you can really practice until game day.  You can decorate a nursery, buy all the baby clothes, stock up on diapers, and even practice soothing and diapering other babies. But how can you really prepare to breastfeed a brand new baby? What can you do to set yourself up for success? You can watch a million videos about the correct latch (and you should--here’s a great one), but until you are with your brand-new baby, it will be minimally helpful.

6 tips for breastfeeding success

 

My Experience

 

Honestly, breastfeeding my 4 children has been one of the sweetest, most rewarding, bonding experiences of motherhood.  But it was the absolute hardest thing that I experienced as a new mom–more difficult than 24 hours of hospital labor followed by an emergency c-section.

 

After well over 3 years combined of nursing (including nursing a baby with an undetected tongue tie), here is what I wish I knew from the start:

 

Here’s my Top 6 Essential Tips for Breastfeeding Success

 

1.) Bring your nursing pillow to the hospital/birthing center. 

 

This may seem obvious, but in the rush to get to the hospital, many moms don’t think about the nursing pillow. I certainly didn’t. But when you baby is first born, the nurses are going to immediately help you start nursing. This is the beginning of your relationship with nursing and you will be surrounded by help.

You want to be surrounded by the tools you need.

If you have your nursing pillow with you, they can help you figure out exactly how you can use it instead of starting when you get home and are in a bewildered daze wondering why they even let you leave the hospital with this new baby. Note: Make sure you buy at least 1 waterproof protective cover for the pillow AND your normal covers.

 

2.) Use the lactation consultant at the hospital/birthing center.

 

If you are afraid to ask for help, you need to get over that right now. Use the lactation consultant and all the nurses to ask question after question, and get as much latching help from the get-go. If you feel that the lactation consultant isn’t helpful, get another one if available or find a nurse who is helpful. Many nurses are absolute treasure troves of breastfeeding knowledge!

 

3.) Have a support system in place. 

 

This is one of the most overlooked resources in this world of do-it-yourselfers, but is probably THE most important key to success. I’ve seen some advice given to hire a lactation consultant before you even have the baby.

But who can afford that!?!

For thousands and thousands of years, people successfully breastfed without having to hire in-home help. What people have had, historically, is a knowledgeable breastfeeding support system. There is a good chance you have experienced breastfeeders in your circle somewhere.

I highly encourage you to read this article about research done in communities with high breastfeeding success rates. Women around the world have the same struggles, but the most successful breastfeeding societies have strong breastfeeding support systems.

Consider asking relatives, friends, or close neighbors  if they’d be willing to help once the baby comes. The vast majority of experienced breastfeeders would be downright thrilled to help you out. Heck, email me if you need help! If you are feeling modest, I’m telling you–after labor, you won’t care who sees your ta-tas.

 

 

4.) Don’t stress out about a little formula supplementation.

 

If you’ve done much breastfeeding research, you’ve probably heard that supplementing with formula will affect your supply. And it certainly will–if you do it regularly. But let’s say you are in so much pain from a bad latch and are basically delirious from pain and lack of sleep (been there!). One bottle of formula isn’t going to be the end of the world. But it may give you the chance to get sleep, give your nipples a break, and try again a bit later with a little more sanity at your disposal. You can have breastfeeding success with a little formula.

 

 

5.) Buy nursing clothes.

 

Perhaps you’ve already looked, but they seemed pricey. It’s worth it, trust me. You’ll thank me later when you can breastfeed discretely and with ease in a public place as opposed to pulling your dress over your head in a nasty public bathroom stall or your car. I cannot tell you how much this completely changed my breastfeeding experience. This makes breastfeeding so much more convenient. Remember, it’s all about removing obstacles to breastfeeding success.

With my first 3 kids, I relied on deep-v t-shirts, button up tops, and nursing bras to pop ’em out easily, but it got tricky when I needed to wear something less casual. For my 4th child, however, I decided to invest in some actual nursing clothes and I cannot believe how much easier it is.  Nursing clothes make nursing quick and discreet since usually the top of your breast is covered . My children never tolerated nursing covers, so I felt so much more comfortable nursing in public spaces in nursing clothes without giving anyone a show. This Undercover Mama dress is my absolute favorite. Super comfy and it snaps right into your bra so it is so insanely convenient to quickly nurse anywhere.

 

 

6.) Get a suitable pump. 

 

Not everyone needs a pump, but you don’t need to be a working mom to find incredible value in a good pump.  If you are a stay-at-home mom, but plan to be able to leave your child for a couple of hours, the medela swing is perfect. I loved it until I started working part-time. If you plan on working or being away for 3 or more hours regularly, or you are not comfortable breastfeeding in public and want to bring bottles, I cannot rave enough about the Medela Pump on the Go. I’ve cooked dinners, graded papers, and even done squats all while pumping. You wear a pumping bra (I like this one) and can pump both sides, hands-free. It’s awesome! I feel like if I had gotten a double pump with my 1st two kids (I didn’t get it until #3) I would have been able to nurse them longer.

 

And Above All: Be kind to yourself, mama. 

 

Breastfeeding is not a stick to measure yourself up to anyone else. Your mental and physical health is the most important thing you can offer your new baby, not breastmilk. Do the best you can, and love yourself. You created human life. That’s pretty amazing, mama.

 

I wish you great breastfeeding success! May the milk freely flow and the nipples be pain free.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave