1. Exercise daily. Moderate exercise is shown to have no affect on milk supply, milk composition, or baby’s growth. Regular exercise was even shown to slightly boost milk supply in one study. Vary workouts between cardio and strength training to meet weight loss goals. Strenuous exercise to the point of exhaustion does temporarily increase lactic acid and decrease IgA levels, but the levels returned to normal in approximately 60 to 90 minutes and has no known harmful effect. Regular exercise improves the mother's health, can help stave off postpartum depression and anxiety and can aid in the desire to lose the baby weight.
2. Wait until a breastfeeding relationship is established before dieting. It can take 8-12 weeks for your milk supply to regulate and a successful breastfeeding relationship to be built. By waiting at least 2 months before restricting calories, you are less likely to affect your breast milk supply. When restricting calories, do so gradually as a sudden drop in calorie intake could hurt supply.
3. Eat at least 1500-1800 calories a day. This is the bare minimum a woman should consume while breastfeeding and some mothers may need to eat more than this. Restricting calories below 1500 a day could adversely affect breast milk supply. Focus on making the foods you do eat healthier foods. Avoid fad diets such as liquid diets, low-carb diets and weight loss medications. When calories are severely restricted, fat-soluble environmental contaminants and toxins stored in body fat are released into the milk.
4. Keep weight loss at 1 - 1.5 pounds per week. This is a healthy guideline for anyone to follow when trying to lose weight. Losing weight at a rate of 1 to 1.5 pounds per week should have no impact on breast milk supply.
5. Track inches, not pounds. Remember that muscle weighs more than fat. So while the number on the scale might not be budging, if you're exercising and building muscle, you may be losing inches. Pay attention to how much better you start to feel when exercising regularly.
6. Stay hydrated. Proper water intake is crucial to staying healthy, losing weight and keeping up milk supply. It is recommended to drink .5 - 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight. For example, a 160 lb woman would want to consume 80 - 160 ounces of water a day.
7. Nurse, nurse, nurse. Nothing keeps milk supply high quite like nursing as often and as long as baby wishes. Research has shown that breastfeeding past 6 months increases weight loss in mothers.