Body Weight, Body Composition, and Energy Intake Changes in Breastfeeding Mothers

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Body weight, body composition, and energy intake changes are described for 13 breastfeeding mothers followed for 18-24 months after delivery. Body weight was assessed at 1-6, 9, 12, 18, 24 months postpartum and 1 month after infant weaning, and energy intake was assessed at 2-6, 9, 12, 18, 24 months postpartum and 1 month after infant weaning. Compared to prepregnancy weight, participants were an average of 4.0 ± 6.6 kg heavier 18 months postpartum (p<0.05). The mean rate of weight loss from 1 month postpartum until termination of lactation was 0.32 ± 0.27 kg/month. Eight of the 12 women gained weight after weaning their infant. Percent body fat assessed by underwater weighing declined from 34.6 ± 2.8% at 1 month postpartum to 31.4 ± 4.8% at 1 month after infant weaning (p<0.05). Further research is needed to study the factors which affect weight loss postpartum, and how weight gain after weaning can be prevented. J Hum Lact 1998; 119-124.

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Journal of Human Lactation