Now I know what you are all thinking – breastfeeding is supposed to be great for weight loss isn’t it? Well, you are both right and wrong. In the early post-partum stages breastfeeding helps your uterus to contract back to its pre-natal size and your body burns up to 500 calories keeping up with the supply and demand of your baby.
During pregnancy your body produces high levels of prolactin. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for stimulating milk production and also inhibits ovulation. Prolactin is a ‘fat storing’ hormone which is why you end up storing fat around your thighs, buttock, and stomach during and after your pregnancy.
But once your child weans onto solid foods your milk supply demands are no longer so high and there is a period where your body needs to transition – this period of transition can often lead to sudden weight gain as you may be consuming more calories than you need. However if after 2-4 weeks your weight still isn’t shifting you could be suffering from a hormonal imbalance – specifically estrogen dominance.
Before I talk about estrogen dominance let’s take a look at the hormonal interaction within your body from pregnancy until after birth:
- During pregnancy your body produces high levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone which in turn triggers the synthesis of large amounts of prolactin. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for stimulating milk production and also inhibits ovulation. However during pregnancy these high levels of progesterone and estrogen also inhibit prolactin from producing milk. Prolactin is a ‘fat storing’ hormone which is why you end up storing fat around your thighs, buttock, and stomach during and after your pregnancy.
- After the birth of your baby your estrogen levels drop. Low levels of estrogen stops menstruation from starting and also keeps your libido low. Estrogen is a ‘fat storing’ hormone.
- After birth the chances are you won’t be ovulating for a while and so your progesterone levels will be low. Ovulation produces progesterone. Progesterone is also a ‘fat burning’ hormone.
- Testosterone levels are also low when breastfeeding. Low levels of testosterone can also reduce your libido. Testosterone is also a ‘fat burning’ hormone.
- Both stress and sleep deprivation can increase prolactin and cortisol levels within your body. Like prolactin, cortisol is a fat storing hormone.
- Upon weaning your child from the breast fully (or reducing frequency of feeds) your progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone levels will begin to rise again.
To read the article in full head on over to Primal Eye Magazine.