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  Category: Articles » Home & Family » Parenting » Article

3 Reasons Not To Follow a 'Low-Carb' Diet When Breastfeeding.

By Rich Lawson

After a mother has given birth it is natural to be anxious to lose the weight that has been put on during pregnancy as quickly as possible. Popular diets include high protein and low carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet and the South Beach diet. Most of us are becoming more aware that breastfeeding, all other things being equal, is the best way to feed your newborn child but is breastfeeding compatible with one of these popular 'low-carb' diets?

1. The first thing to address here is the mother's anxiousness to lose weight after giving birth. As the weight was gained slowly it is generally better to lose it over a period of time too. 'Low-carb' diets can promise weight loss of '14lbs in 14 days' and such like but this is never normally a healthy option no matter who you are, whether you are breastfeeding or not. Breastfeeding actually helps mothers to lose weight anyway and medical research suggests that it is advisable for new mothers to not actively start trying to lose weight through dieting for the first 2 months and this should preferably be stretched to when your child starts solids at around 6 months.

2. The second thing to address is the health of the mother. 'Low-carb' diets have a high potential to make you feel unwell as they are not balanced. These diets are typically low in fiber, minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium as well as antioxidants and folic acid as well as other parts of a balanced diet. They can also be high in protein and fat intake. Coupled with this a lot of the weight loss achieved by following these diets can be through water loss and so dehydration can be a risk if plenty of water isn't drunk. It's stressful enough after giving birth and taking care of your newborn can be exhausting until you've established routines with your baby. Why would you want to add the possibility of dehydration and not giving your body a balanced dose of required vitamins and minerals to help it recover after pregnancy and childbirth?

3. The third thing to consider is your baby's health. There a few reasons as to why your baby's health may be affected by a 'low-carb' diet. Firstly some mothers have found that by following a 'low-carb' diet their milk supply has decreased. Stopping the diet generally brings the milk supply back to required levels. By limiting your intake to certain types of food there exists the possibility that your milk will not have the required levels of vitamins that your baby requires. 'Low-carb' diets usually place the body into a state called ketosis. It is unknown if ketones can be passed through breast milk to your child and the impact on health. The Atkins website advises mothers to start on the maintenance part of its dietary plan which involves a considerably larger carbohydrate intake than its starting point.

In summary, it is advisable for mothers to eat a balanced and healthy diet whilst breastfeeding and a 'low-carb' diet should really be avoided. Like all things medical in nature there are always exceptions in certain circumstances and if you are unsure due to special circumstances a physician should be consulted.
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