Conclusion

Breastfeeding is the gold standard and strongly recommended method of feeding infants. The World Health Organization recommends human milk as the exclusive nutrient source for the first 6 months of life, with introduction of solids at this time, and continued breastfeeding until at least the first 12 months postpartum. Early postpartum weight is an issue for many women as they are anxious to return to their prepregnancy body size. For many, weight management will be difficult given personal circumstances and multiple demands on their time. Given the elevated nutrient requirements of lactation, women will need to plan meals with care to maximum nutrient intake while limiting energy dense foods. Women are encouraged to use the USDA Dietary Guidelines and My Pyramid or Canada's Food Guide or guides from their country of origin to select food choices—including number and portion size. Following this dietary guidance should facilitate adequate intakes of key nutrients including calcium, vitamin D, folate, vitamin B12, and iron. In the event that a woman is unable to select food choices in the amounts and portions described in the food guides, a referral to a dietitian will be worthwhile as well as prescribing an appropriate vitamin or mineral supplement. Exercise postpartum is strongly encouraged after medical clearance, usually after 4-6 weeks postpartum. Women are encouraged to gradually work up to 30 min of moderate exercise each day for most days of the week. Women who wish to tackle their weight more aggressively should be reassured that an exercise regimen consisting of 45 min of moderate aerobic exercise 4 days/week day (60-80% maximum heart rate) in combination with a 500 kcal/day diet restriction has been shown to promote postpartum weight loss and does not negatively affect breastfeeding.

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