Breastfeeding hunger is a real issue, and many mothers find themselves extremely frustrated because they are gaining weight and starving at the same time while breastfeeding. There are many factors that can cause constant hunger and weight gain while breastfeeding.
Losing the baby weight will undoubtedly feel impossible if you are starving and gaining weight at the same time. Breastfeeding mamas who find themselves constantly hungry, while also gaining weight are most likely experiencing some issues with blood sugar, a response to hormone levels – specifically prolactin, and a response to lack of sleep. All of these issues, combined with an increased need for nutrients make weight gain and hunger possible, even while breastfeeding.
Let’s dive into specifics on why this is happening, and some ways you can get a handle on the breastfeeding hunger, so you can lose weight, rather than gain weight.
The reasons you’re constantly hungry and gaining weight while breastfeeding:
Reason 1: Your blood sugar levels are on a rollercoaster while breastfeeding
Breastfeeding hunger comes with a lot of extra cravings for mainly sugar, but other foods as well. Postpartum cravings and hunger push moms to eat more carbohydrates and sweets, which has a dramatic affect on blood sugar. Breastfeeding hunger starts because breastfeeding moms do need more nutrients. Unfortunately, many nursing moms fill their hunger with high carb and high fat foods like fries, potato chips, cheeseburgers, nachos, bread and more. Even lactation snacks like brownies and cookies are high carb and high fat foods. These foods cause blood sugar to spike, then drop soon after. Without much fiber and protein for satiation (read below on the importance of fiber!), when blood sugar drops the hunger feeling comes back.
The problem with a dropping blood sugar is that your body doesn’t need more food, but it feels like it does. This leads to overeating, yet never feeling satisfied.
Milk Dust has a specific blend to balance blood sugar, which can really help combat the hunger breastfeeding mamas struggle with. In addition to the protein and nutrients, Milk Dust can be a huge help for hungry nursing mamas!
Reason 2: Your body is adjusting to new hormone levels with prolactin for lactation
Hormone levels change dramatically during lactation. Estrogen decreases and prolactin comes into play. While the lower estrogen usually helps with weight loss, sometimes your body may not react well to the prolactin. Hormones play a huge role in hunger and metabolism, so some nursing mamas experience an increased appetite with the hormonal changes.
Unfortunately, with the increased appetite, many of the not-so-healthy foods can increase estrogen levels. When estrogen increases, it can cause milk supply to drop, as well as increase fat storage. Estrogen is in charge of increasing fat stores for reproduction. While this is great for healthy ovulation and reproduction, it isn’t helpful when needing to lose weight. It can cause weight gain, even when breastfeeding.
Luckily, Milk Dust offers some amazing lactation herbs that help with hormonal balance. The herbs that help with lactation help keep hormonal levels balanced. Red Raspberry Leaf in particular is wonderful for keeping estrogen levels lower. Following one of our Milk Dust smoothie recipes will also add more fiber to your diet, which estrogen latches onto to leave the body.
Reason 3: Lack of sleep is increasing cortisol levels
Breastfeeding a newborn is stressful. Not sleeping more than a few hours is also stressful. This stress can cause an increase in cortisol levels for many mamas. Cortisol increases appetite, so the stress and lack of sleep for new mothers really creates a hunger problem for breastfeeding.
Many mamas turn to food when feeling tired, or just plain feel hungrier when not sleeping. Eating higher fiber foods with protein can really help decrease hunger. Try eating a whole head of broccoli. All the fiber will make you feel super full. Or eat 3 apples. There is only so much fiber your body will want to consume, and it will leave you feeling full for hours. The key is to manage your increased hunger with healthy food. Adding in the veggies and fruit will also add in nutrients, which is so important during lactation.
Reason 4: Increased nutrient needs aren’t being met
Breastfeeding mamas need more nutrients to support lactation. Because there is a higher demand, many mamas experience cravings, which can come as pure hunger. The body is technically hungry for nutrients, so often times it will signal for more food in order to get in more nutrients. Lactating mothers need more nutrients like protein, folate, vitamin B12 and even plain carbohydrates.
By adding in more fruits, veggies, beans, complex carbs like brown rice and lean proteins, you are providing more nutrients, which will help you feel more full. Milk Dust smoothies in particular are full of nutrients, which really help decrease hunger and fill in the nutrient gaps that can drive a constant feeling of hunger.
Reason 5: You’re body needs more fiber
Fiber is really filling. It bulks up in your stomach and intestines to literally make you feel full. One of the amazing things that happens when mamas follow our 10-day diet plan is that they feel super full. The hunger goes away, yet they actually lose weight feeling full. The key is your body is getting more fiber-rich foods, which are actually lower in calories.
Sometimes the simple reason for hunger is that there isn’t enough fiber in the diet. To make it even more simple, you need to eat some more fruits and veggies. That isn’t too hard to do if you add in a smoothie every day, or make sure you are eating fruits and/or veggies at every snack and meal. This will add in nutrients and fiber to your diet to really combat those hunger cravings.
Reason 6: You are more sedentary with a newborn baby
One of the reasons you may be gaining more weight while breastfeeding is purely the fact that a baby can limit your activity. There is a lot of time spent holding the baby, nursing the baby, rocking the baby and sitting with the baby. Normally, a new mother may have been working out, doing more cleaning, walking around more and just more active. By slowing down and caring for a newborn, you may be burning a lot less calories than expected. Especially during the first 6 weeks, when working out isn’t really an option. Muscle mass is also lost during this time, which slows your metabolism down.
Adding in walks with the baby in a wrap or carrier can really help increase activity closer to wear it was. Newborns and small babies tend to do really well being worn close to mama, which gives mama a chance to walk around and do things.
Overall, nourishing the breastfeeding mama with nutrient-dense and high-fiber foods can really help reduce hunger and stop weight gain. Our Milk Dust protein powder is a great tool to help new mamas do this. The smoothies are an easy, one-handed way to get in fruits and veggies, with protein and nutrients that tastes amazing!