Breastfeeding: Exercise and Weight Loss

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Topic Overview

Keep the following in mind as you start an exercise program or try to lose weight while you are breastfeeding.


Being active helps promote weight loss, improves your energy level, and can help you relieve stress. Follow these tips when you start an exercise program while you are breastfeeding:

  • Start out slowly. Walking, swimming, and cycling are all good low-impact ways to begin an exercise program. Gradually build up your time and intensity.
  • Wear a supportive bra. Not all sports bras offer enough support, so try on a bra before you buy it.
  • Eat more calories when you are more active.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you exercise.
  • To ease breast discomfort, breastfeed or pump right before you exercise.

Weight loss

You may gradually lose weight without trying while breastfeeding. The rate and ease of weight loss varies widely. You may lose about 1 lb (0.5 kg) to 2 lb (0.9 kg) a week. Some women find that it takes up to a year to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy.

If you wish to lose weight while breastfeeding, both diet and physical activity have a role. Physical activity or exercise is the safest way to lose weight during this time. Moderate calorie restriction (eating less) may be safe for some overweight women, but breastfeeding women should generally eat more calories. Extreme weight-loss diets should be avoided while breastfeeding. For more information, see the topic Nutrition While Breastfeeding.

Talk to a nutritional counselor, registered dietitian, or your doctor about a safe and healthy diet.

Other Places To Get Help


La Leche League International
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Women's Health


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofSeptember 29, 2015