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Women's Health

Thumbs Up to Overweight Moms Losing Weight While Breastfeeding

After giving birth, besides overwhelming joy, many women feel anxiety about losing the extra weight they have accumulated over the past nine months, especially moms who were overweight prior to pregnancy. The fact that breastfeeding women have been advised by doctors in the past not to diet while breastfeeding compounds the stress new moms face.

Good news is here. Overweight mothers who breastfeed their infants may lose weight through a sensible diet and exercise program — without fear of harming their infants — a recent study revealed.

"Being overweight may cause serious health problems," according to Dr. Duane Alexander, National Institute of Child Health Development director. "This study shows that it's safe for overweight women to begin a sensible weight loss program without posing a risk to their infants."

The study was conducted by Cheryl A. Lovelady, Ph.D., and her co-workers at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

Weight gained during pregnancy might contribute to obesity later in life; therefore, losing the extra weight soon after pregnancy may help many women to avoid later obesity and its long-term health effects, explained Lovelady.

Overweight breastfeeding women could probably lose about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) per month without affecting their production of milk, an Institute of Medicine report concluded. However, no studies exist to prove whether this assumption is true.

Women who are breastfeeding should first consult their physician and nutritionist before undertaking any weight-loss program, Lovelady stressed. Breastfeeding women should not attempt to lose weight if they are only a few pounds overweight.

"Breastfeeding mothers who are only 5 pounds overweight shouldn't try to lose weight," said Lovelady. Unless a women has sufficient fat reserves, dieting may hinder milk production and also cause the women to feel fatigued.

"Overweight" was defined as having a body mass index of 25 to 30.

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