Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding

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Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding

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Do you want to lose all that baby weight after giving birth? Before any guidelines, gaining weight after childbirth is an entirely normal thing. You don’t need a calorie restriction because low food intake can affect your breast milk composition.


Breastfeeding moms need to eat enough calories during their weight loss journey to avoid complications in milk production. 


Intermittent fasting is the most common way for breastfeeding mothers turn to lose weight. But the main questions are; Is it safe? Will it affect your breast milk production? Is it going to halt your baby’s growth in any way? Is it going to help you lose that excess body weight? 


If you have such questions, you are at the right place. This article answers these questions and much more. So without further ado, let’s plunge right into it. 


Safety Measures for Losing Weight

There are some crucial points you need to keep in mind before you begin practicing intermittent fasting while breastfeeding. These are as follows: 


  • Do not go for the alternate-day fasting method 


  • Do not prolong your fasting window 


  • Eat enough nutrients during your eating window 


  • Do not opt for a very low-carb diet 


  • Prioritize your mental health 


Although intermittent fasting while breastfeeding is safe, it can cause severe problems if done incorrectly. It is better to get help from a dietician so they can guide you toward the proper nutrition for your baby and yourself. 



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Recommended Read: >>> Not Losing Weight Intermittent Fasting <<<

Practicing Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding; Is it Safe?

There is no harm in practicing intermittent fasting while breastfeeding. It is a relatively safe option compared to other popular diet trends like alternate-day fasting and keto. However, intermittent fasting is only safe if you take care of a few things.


While breastfeeding, you need to eat a nutrient-dense diet to avoid reduced milk supply. Furthermore, you need to give yourself a break for the first six weeks postpartum for your hormones to return to normal. Also, this period is essential for your baby’s weight gain and overall health.


Moreover, you should not prolong your fasting period to accelerate your weight loss, and this practice has caused a lower milk supply in postpartum women. So use your brain more than your heart because this is not the time to make silly decisions that can harm you and your baby. 


Recommended Read: >>> Intermittent Fasting for Women Over 50 <<<

Precautions and Tips for Intermittent Fasting While Breastfeeding

If you want to burn fat while breastfeeding, then you must follow some rules and tips. These tips will allow you to get back in shape while you and your baby remain healthy.


So to get a positive experience, let’s study these tips in detail below. 

1. Fasting Cycles

You cannot start intermittent fasting before you have a well-established milk supply, and this is because if your milk supply is not maintained at the correct rate, intermittent fasting can become a hurdle.


Depending on your condition, you can start your fasting cycles after the sixth or eighth week of postpartum, and this will help you in the future, and you can lose weight without stressing yourself out. 

2. Eating Window

Breastfeeding moms must eat a substantial amount of calories during their eating window while intermittent fasting. It would be best if you did not spend long hours on an empty stomach, which can cause many complications and affect your milk supply. Even at the bare minimum, you should not eat at least 1800 calories, and it is better to maintain a diet above this calorie count.


Furthermore, eating the right things is what matters the most. If you eat junk food and consider it to fulfill the calorie count, you risk your health and your baby’s. And a breastfeeding mom should always drink lots of water as the body becomes water-deficient while breastfeeding.



3. Choosing the Right Time

Choosing the proper fasting and eating windows makes a big difference and can help you or vice versa. Alternate-day fasting is not an option as it causes a sudden decrease in milk production. There are different routines you can opt for intermittent fasting while breastfeeding. 


One option is 16/8, but it should always be the second option. You can practice this routine after practicing the 14/10 fasting cycle. Ensure enough during the eating window so your body adjusts to the routine. After practicing this routine for a week or two, you can start with the 16/8 fasting schedule. This way, your blood sugar level will not spike, and you can save yourself from complex situations. 


Furthermore, keep your diet rich with fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Try to avoid junk food as much as you can. You can treat yourself to your favorite foods once in a while, but it’s better to avoid them most of the time. 


4. Nutrient Dense Diet

The breastfeeding woman must keep a strict check on her diet while fasting. Your calorie intake matters greatly, but what you eat within those calories matters the most. You’re mistaken if you can make up for that 1800-calorie count by munching on junk food. It might work for a short period, but you’ll have stomach aches, nausea, and weakness as your body is not getting the energy it needs to work.


So eat all the fruits, vegetables, and meat and put aside fast food for a while. You can drink smoothies and eat the latest flavored yogurt. There is a lot of variety in healthy eating, and you need to be aware of it. 


5. Fluid Intake

To make it easy for the baby to drink milk, our body releases oxytocin. And this causes some physical and psychological changes in nursing mothers, who feel thirsty almost always. However, this is not something to worry about as breast milk contains 90% water and only 10% milk. Yup, that’s a weird distribution, but it is the best for your baby.


Oxytocin release occurs in both menstruating and breastfeeding women, and this also causes contractions in the uterus so that it comes back to its original state. So make sure to keep yourself hydrated and relaxed at all times.


6. Sleep Management

Women fasting while breastfeeding often causes irregular sleep patterns. The hormonal changes cause severe mood swings and can leave you in a bad state. This hormonal change and oxytocin release is what causes postpartum depression.


So by maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding all sorts of caffeine and alcohol, you can save yourself from postpartum depression and disturbed sleep patterns. You must have a good night’s sleep so you can deal with things pleasantly. 


7. Exercise

It would be best if you stayed active, apart from staying healthy. Nevertheless, these two factors go hand in hand. You need to drink plenty of water and eat lots of healthy food, but you also need to exercise a little.


But things are different depending on your type of delivery. For example, if you underwent a C-section, you should avoid intense exercise. And on top of that, you must rest completely for a few weeks. After that, you can go for walks and make it a part of your life.


However, if you had an expected delivery, you should be okay with exercising but avoid intense exercises. Also, you can contact a gym trainer or your doctor, and they can provide a detailed exercise plan.


7. Dietician's Help

We did our best to list all the details about intermittent fasting while breastfeeding, but an expert’s opinion is always above all this. You should consult a registered dietitian for short-term fasting, and they will provide you with all sorts of help and eating plans.


They will also plan your meals for you; trust us, it is the best for you. Doing this will take away the stress that all this planning can cause and help you in every way you can imagine and do wonders. 


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Most Popular diet Trends and their Truth

Besides intermittent fasting, many popular diet trends promise to help you lose weight. But are they worth trusting? Or should you ignore them?


The keto diet, alternate-day fasting, liquid-only diet, no-carb diets, etc. The thing is, these diets can be helpful, but there is no need for you to try them. As a breastfeeding mother, you should avoid such diets where you restrict yourself to a specific food group, which can badly affect your mental and physical health.


For example, a liquid-only diet will restrict you from eating solid food, and honestly, how long can you bear that until you lose your mind? So keep your choices open and avoid such weird diet plans. 


Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Milk Supply

Over the years, breastfeeding women have been told that their food affects their milk supply. But it is high time. As much as we want to keep on with the tradition, we can’t. Instead of quantity, the food’s quality matters the most, which brings about changes in breast milk composition. 


Doctors ask breastfeeding moms to avoid intermittent fasting in the first few weeks because of two prominent reasons. 


  1. Nursing moms can develop an eating disorder because of the intense shifts in female hormones. 
  1. Milk production will be deficient in nutrients and minerals, which is unsuitable for the baby. 


Furthermore, intermittent fasting while breastfeeding can cause low blood pressure in a nursing mother and alter insulin levels, affecting the milk supply in several ways.


Effects of Intermittent Fasting on the Baby

When something happens to a breastfeeding mother, she is not the only one affected by it; it is her baby who suffers the most. For example, if a mother gets a reaction because of some food she ate or some medicine she consumed, will the baby not be affected? The baby will be affected, and his mental and physical health could be in danger at such a young age. 


When lactating women try to lose weight by restricting calories, they often overdo it. It is human nature to eliminate an unwanted thing as quickly as possible. A growing baby needs affection and food from its mother. But if the mother is not taking care of her health, will she be able to take care of the baby? She might and might not be able to. 


For this reason, you must always ask a dietician to make a plan for you to follow. They will keep in mind your and your baby’s needs and make a plan to provide all the healthy fats and fulfill the nutritional needs without causing any problems. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is intermittent fasting while breastfeeding life-threatening?

Intermittent fasting while breastfeeding is not life-threatening, but it can cause severe complications if done incorrectly. To avoid these, you should start intermittent fasting after the first eight weeks of giving birth. Furthermore, you should keep a 14/10 fasting cycle for the first week and then move on to the 16/8 cycle. 

Does intermittent fasting help in losing pregnancy weight?

Yes. Intermittent fasting helps you lose pregnancy weight and allows you to eat during the eating window, which you should fully use. Moreover, you can have drinks under 60 calories during the fasting window. So it does help to lose weight. 

Can intermittent fasting cause sleep deprivation?

Yes and no. Sleep deprivation occurs due to oxytocin release and hormonal changes, not only because of intermittent fasting. So you cannot blame intermittent fasting for your irregular sleep patterns. But if things worsen, you should avoid intermittent fasting and consult a doctor. 

Final Words

It is acceptable for breastfeeding mothers to practice intermittent fasting. But they must do this under the consultation of a registered dietician. Furthermore, it is essential to check the changes in your milk supply. 

That brings us to the end of this post. We hope you find this article to be interesting and beneficial. Happy Fasting! 


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