Are Diet Pills Safe to Take While Breastfeeding? - Evidence Based Babie
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diet pills safe for breastfeeding

Are Diet Pills Safe to Take While Breastfeeding?

Not everyone is happy with their body after giving birth, many new mothers may struggle to accept or lose that extra weight. Postpartum weight loss to get back to pre-pregnancy weight is a goal for many new moms, but for breastfeeding mothers this may be a bit of a challenge.

You might want to lose weight, but you need to consume enough calories to ensure a healthy milk production to avoid your milk supply from dropping beyond what your baby needs. There’s also diet pills to consider, but are diet pills safe for breastfeeding mothers? Does it transfer into your breast milk? Is it safe for breastfed infants?

Intense dieting and exercise or appetite suppressants and metabolism boosters, which is often found in diet pills can negatively affect both the milk supply and your baby’s health, as some of these ingredients can be detrimental to a baby’s health.

The ingredients of diet pills and how it can affect breastfeeding infants

Most diet pills contain ingredients that have serious side effects which poses significant risks to both breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

Caffeine

Caffeine, a naturally occurring CNS stimulant is a commonly found ingredient in weight loss supplements.

Caffeine does transfer into breastmilk, and although the amounts may be very small, it has a very long half-life for babies, and can lead to heightened irritabilities and sleeping difficulties in infants.

While the half-life in adults is 4.9 hours, the half-life in neonates is as high as 97.5 hours. The half-life decreases with age to 14 hours at 3-5 months and 2.6 hours at 6 months and older.

There is some evidence that chronic coffee drinking may reduce the iron content of milk. Irritability and insomnia may occur and have been reported.

Caffeine is considered compatible with breastfeeding and most babies won’t have any issues with the very small amount of caffeine in the breastmilk. It’s recommended that breastfeeding mothers keep their caffeine intake to a limit of around 300mg per day.

Monitor your baby and if they’re showing any signs of disturbance, cut back on the caffeine until they’re a bit older and able to handle more caffeine a bit better.

Phentermine

According to Dr Hale from Hales Medication And Mothers’ Milk, Phentermine is an appetite suppressant that is similar to the amphetamine family. It frequently produces CNS stimulation. There is no data available on its transfer into breastmilk, but it does have a very small molecular weight (186 Daltons), which means it would likely transfer into breastmilk in significant quantities.

The use of Phentermine can cause a variety of adverse effects in an infant, such as changes in sleep, irritability, hypertension, vomiting, tremor, and weight loss.

The use of this Phentermine in breastfeeding mothers would be difficult to justify and is not advised.

Ephedra

Ephedra, also known as Ephedrine, is found in many weight loss supplements. Many popular weight loss supplements such as Metabolife, Herbalife, Omni Trim, Trim Easy, Diet Pep and MetaboSafe contain Ephedra.

Ephedra was banned by the FDA, and for good reason. It comes with many detrimental side effects such as increasing blood pressure and increases the heart rate.

There’s not much research on the transfer of Ephedra into the breastmilk, but it is believed to transfer into breastmilk. It is also believed to be unlikely to harm a breastfeeding baby, but it still isn’t recommended for breastfeeding mothers.

5htp (Hydroxytryptophan)

According to Hales medications, there is no data on the transfer of exogenously supplied LTP or 5-HTP into breastmilk. It is not apparently known if high maternal plasma levels would produce elevated milk levels.

Because an infant’s neurologic development is incredibly sensitive to serotonin levels, and because we do not know if supplementation with LTP or 5-HTP could produce high milk levels leading to overdose in the infant, the use of L-tryptophan or 5-HTP supplementation in breastfeeding mothers is not recommended.

Herbal ingredients even though considered natural can pose a great threat to both the mother and the baby’s health.

Safer Alternatives to diet pills

There are many better and safer options to lose weight for breastfeeding mothers, which will not affect their health, their milk supply or their baby’s health.

Better nutrition

Rather than restrictive diets, aim for a healthy diet. Try to avoid or drastically decrease your intake of unhealthy foods such as foods high in sugar, sweets, sodas, junk food, foods high in fat and simple carbohydrates. Rather concentrate on consuming healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains.

Increase hydration

Staying well-hydrated is crucial, not only for our health, but also for our milk supply. Staying hydrated may help you snack less, which will help you with losing weight, but it also keeps your milk production going, so you’ll have an adequate milk supply for your baby.

Regular exercise

Engage in light to moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming or postpartum fitness classes, which can help improve cardiovascular health and aid in gradual weight loss without affecting breastfeeding or the milk supply. Cardiovascular exercise combined with weight training may also be a good idea to help make weight loss even faster.

Physical activity is not only great for weight loss, but it also helps to improve energy levels and it improves mental and physical health.

Get Adequate Sleep

Getting much sleep with a newborn is difficult, but quality sleep can help regulate hormones that control hunger and appetite.

So, as the saying goes, sleep when the baby sleeps, whenever this is possible. Rest as much as you possibly can, especially in those first few weeks and months.

Manage stress

Stress can lead to emotional eating. Techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga can be beneficial in managing stress levels.

Breastfeed exclusively and frequently

Breastfeeding itself burns calories, between 300-700 calories per baby, per day. So, breastfeeding exclusively and frequently can naturally help with weight loss.

Seek Support

Having a support system who can help you stay healthy both emotionally, mentally and physically is extremely important for any new mother during the postpartum period. A support system can also be great motivators in your weight loss journey.

How to achieve your goals

Set achievable goals

Start with attainable targets to build confidence and maintain motivation. Start small and work yourself up. Aim for healthy habits as much as you’re aiming for weight loss. Remember any win, no matter how small, is still a win.

Plan meals

Planning and preparing nutritious meals in advance not only save you time, but it also helps you stick to healthier foods, seeing as the meals have already been planned and prepared.

Snack smart

There is no reason why you can no longer snack while trying to lose weight, you just have to snack healthier. Choose nutrient-rich snacks like yogurt, nuts, and fruit and avoid sugary and processed foods.

Listen to your body

Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues to avoid overeating. Your body will let you know what it needs and when it’s had enough. Don’t finish the food just because it’s on your plate, stop eating once you start feeling full.

Include your baby

Turn exercise into bonding time with your baby, increasing emotional and physical health. This can include walks or jogs with the stroller or even exercises while babywearing.

Important notes on dieting while breastfeeding

Always wait for medical clearance from your health care provider before commencing any diet or exercise. The recommended waiting time before commencing exercise after a vaginal birth is 6 weeks postpartum, and for a caesarean section birth it’s 12 weeks postpartum.

Breastfeeding burns calories, around 300-700 calories per baby, per day. So, it’s important to ensure that you have adequate caloric intake so your body can produce enough milk for your baby.

You may need the help of a dietician to work out a special diet for you as a breastfeeding mother to achieve your weight loss goals, while ensuring that you keep up your milk production and specific nutrient needs for your and your baby’s needs.

If you ever need any help or support with anything related to breastfeeding, consult with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). They can provide you with trustworthy and helpful information.

Before using any supplements or medications, always consult with your healthcare provider first to ensure that it’s safe for you as an individual as well as a breastfeeding mother. They can provide you with all the necessary medical information and medical advice needed.

Additional resources and information:

InfantRisk Center

Caffeine while breastfeeding

Phentermine while breastfeeding

When breastfeeding, how many calories should moms and babies consume?

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We take every effort to ensure that we stay up to date with the latest research and that we only provide you with the best possible evidence based information available.

Online information will never be a substitute for individual support by a qualified healthcare professional.

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