This was written as a part of a series about losing weight and breastfeeding. You can read about how many extra calories you need to eat while breastfeeding here and exercising and breastfeeding here.
As I’ve said, in both of my pregnancies, I gained an awful lot of weight – 55 pounds in the first and 50 in the second. Both times I used Weight Watchers and was able to get down to my pre-pregnancy weight within about 6 months postpartum. Here is my experience.
When to Start?
With my first baby, I had read that I should wait about 6 weeks – 2 months before trying to lose weight. That was my plan after he was born, as making sure that I was able to breastfeed him was more important to me than losing the baby weight.
Over the first month, I lost about 20 pounds of water weight, so I wasn’t really in any hurry to start dieting – it felt like the weight was sort of falling off by itself. In addition, I was really hungry, all the time. I was up around the clock taking care of my baby, and I was starving around the clock, too. The idea of going on a diet was just overwhelming.
Around the five week mark, though, the weight loss had stalled, I didn’t like the way that I felt, and thanks to fenugreek I’d gotten my supply up to where I was overproducing. I decided to go ahead and start trying to lose weight. (With my second baby, I started earlier than that – she was born in mid-December, and I thought it might be easier if I joined everyone else in the country by starting my diet on New Year’s Day.)
Going on Weight Watchers
To lose the weight, I decided to go on Weight Watchers. I picked it because I knew that they had a program especially for breastfeeding moms. Even though I was starting a little earlier than recommended, I didn’t want to jeopardize my supply. Also, as I said in a previous post, I didn’t really know what to do with the vague calorie guidelines that are given to breastfeeding women (in the past when I’ve lost weight, I’ve just counted calories) and figured that I could just follow whatever the Weight Watchers rules were.
I ended up being really happy with the plan and counting points. At first, though, I was STARVING. It seemed like the number of points that I got were really small compared to how many points foods “cost.” After a week or two, though, I figured out how to make it work for me. A few of the things that I did to minimize hunger and live “normally” as much as possible:
- I came up with a few go-to snacks. The big one was fruit (a banana, a bunch of fruit salad, etc.) and a Hershey’s Kiss. On Weight Watchers, fruit is free, and the Kiss was just one point. Between the bulk of the fruit and the fat in the Kiss, it was a pretty filling snack and I’d be okay for an hour or so.
- I limited bread. I LOVE carbs, and I could never do an Atkins-type diet. However, bread costs you a lot of points, and it just wasn’t worth it to me as they didn’t fill me up for long enough.
- With a new baby and going back to work, I didn’t really want to deal with cooking fresh food – when I was home, I wanted to snuggle with my baby. Though it was less than ideal, I found some processed options that worked for me.
- On Weight Watchers, you get weekly points that you can use any time during the week – you can spread them out, eating some each day, or you can eat them all in one day. I almost always saved mine for the weekend, and tried to eat fairly normally then. It was so nice to be able to go out to dinner or whatever a few times a week and not have to worry about points, but just enjoy the event.
I was able to dig up a graph of my progress from my Weight Watchers profile from my second baby. Overall, I was really happy with the rate at which I was able to lose the weight.
(Update: I’m currently three months in to my weight loss “journey” for baby #3, and I’m again doing Weight Watchers. I have struggled with it quite a bit over the last few weeks, not because the plan doesn’t work, but because of issues with their technology being nonfunctional and the switch to their new SmartPoints system. I’m still using it but am less likely to recommend it to others now, so I would suggest checking out some other reviews before going ahead and signing up.)
Maintaining the Weight Loss
Once I’d gotten to my goal both times, I went on the the Weight Watchers maintenance plan. I was surprised to find out that maintenance only gives you 6 additional points over the weight loss plan, but I went with it. With both babies, I continued to lose weight on the maintenance plan and a month or so later transitioned to eating to appetite rather than tracking.
(Both times, I did gain back about five pounds by eating to appetite, and went back on the plan to get back down to my goal weight. Once I was there, I was a little more careful to avoid overdoing it.)
So that’s my experience. Tell me about your experience! What worked for you? What didn’t work?