Everything you need to know about WW while nursing
Congratulations on growing your family—and your amazing feat of nurturing a tiny human with your body. Along with the general cacophony of questions you may have as a parent right now (including hits such as, “Will I ever sleep again?”), you may be wondering if WW can work for you while you are nursing. Chances are, the answer is yes! Here’s everything you need to know about breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and nursing on WW.
How WW works for people who are nursing
Fun fact: WW’s weight-management tools are actually designed to include members who are nursing. Your first step is to get the go-ahead from your physician just to make sure the program is suitable for you. Then, once you take a few weeks to settle into the WW groove, the recommended rate of weight loss is about 1 lb per week, max. More on that in a sec.
If you’re new to WW (welcome!), you probably answered yes to the enrollment question about whether you are breastfeeding. In that case, your SmartPoints® Budget already reflects the extra nutrition you'll need to support an adequate milk supply.
If you are returning to WW’s weight-management tools after pregnancy or another break (welcome back!), you’ll see your daily SmartPoints Budget change—depending on the stage of nursing or weaning you're in, as well as your weight-management goals—while your weekly SmartPoints Budget (your allotment of “bonus” points) remains the same.
Throughout your journey, you can update your nursing status on the WW app or website. Eventually, when you are no longer nursing, your daily SmartPoints Budget will adjust to reflect just your age, height, weight, and sex.
Updating your breastfeeding status in the WW app or on the desktop website is simple:
- Tap your profile icon in the upper right corner.
- Click the Settings icon, which looks like a gear.
- Go to Food Settings, then tap "Are you nursing?"
- If breastmilk is your child’s sole source of nutrition, select “I am breastfeeding.” If your child has additional sources of nutrition—mmm, pureed peas—select “I’m not exclusively breastfeeding.”
If you are nursing more than one child
WW can help you adjust your SmartPoints Budget to account for breastfeeding more than one child. Please contact WW Customer Service through the Settings menu in the app, or give us a call at 1-800-651-6000 to ensure your SmartPoints Budget accurately reflects your nursing status and nutritional needs.
Weight-loss considerations for nursing parents
Supporting the body’s milk supply requires extra energy from food. Your SmartPoints Budget is configured to account for that while helping you lose weight at a healthy rate. That said, everyone’s body is different, so it pays to keep a close eye on the scale to ensure you’re not dropping pounds too quickly. Research has found that rapid weight loss—more than 1 lb or so per week on average—may compromise milk production in terms of quality and quantity, as well as the health of nursing parents. If you find yourself losing weight too quickly, it may help to add extra 3 SmartPoints values to your daily Budget each week until your weight loss stabilizes.
And if any point you are concerned, please reach out to your physician.
Nutrition tips for nursing parents
A healthy pattern of eating while nursing hits a lot of the same notes as healthy eating patterns for adults in general. Public health experts generally encourage lactating parents to eat a beneficial array of nutritious whole foods. Here are some tips to help you out:
• At each meal, aim to fill half your plate with veggies and fruits. Dark-green, red, and orange vegetables; beans and peas; and starchy vegetables all make solid choices. Fruit can be surprisingly versatile—try experimenting with flavor combos and prep methods!
• When it comes to grain-based carbs, try to make at least half your selections whole grains, which generally deliver more nutrients and fiber per serving than their refined counterparts. Oatmeal, popcorn, whole-grain bread, and brown rice are all sources of whole-grain goodness.
• Mix up your protein routine. Enjoying a combo of seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds can help ensure you get a diversity of vitamins and minerals with this important macronutrient.
And a note about seafood: Some types may contain environmental contaminants like methylmercury. That being said, seafood can be a safe and healthy protein source during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Options including cod, salmon, tilapia, or herring may be lower in contaminants.
• Use the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list to limit items higher in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars, which many people tend to overconsume. One quick swap to get you started: Consider sipping DIY flavored water instead of sugary drinks. You’ll need to drink plenty of fluid to support your milk supply. (The nursing thirst is real, folks.)
Throughout your weight-loss journey, check in with your physician about your progress. Be sure to have a conversation if you find your milk supply decreasing unexpectedly, or if you have specific questions or concerns about the foods or dietary supplements that are best for you.
Otherwise, please don't hesitate to speak with a WW Coach. In addition to coaching at in-person Workshops, live coaching is available 24/7 in the WW app and on ww.com.
Information provided in this article is for general purposes only. It's essential that you follow specific advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional.
The WW Science Team is composed of scientists specializing in behavior change, behavioral economics, clinical research, nutrition, and more. Their mission is to discover, define, and advocate for healthy habits that empower people to live their best lives, collaborating with colleagues across WW to undertake, share, and translate research so it is accessible and actionable for all people.
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