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Can You Take Appetite Suppressants While Breastfeeding?

By Lisa Sefcik paralegal ; Updated July 18, 2017

Taking appetite suppressants while breastfeeding is an ill-advised way to lose baby weight. MayoClinic.com experts advise losing post-pregnancy weight slowly and safely, at a rate of no more than 1 lb. per week while eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. While you're breastfeeding, your need for calories also increases so you can give your body -- and that of your baby -- adequate daily nutrition.

Weight-Loss Drugs

Most prescription weight-loss drugs act as appetite suppressants. Two common anti-obesity drugs that decrease your appetite are phentermine and diethylpropion. According to Drugs.com, both of these medications can pass through your breast milk to your baby. Prescription and nonprescription orlistat works differently; rather than suppress your appetite, it blocks the absorption of some of the dietary fat in your digestive tract, causing it to be expelled through your stool. However, orlistat also makes it hard for your body to absorb certain vitamins -- essential nutrients a breastfeeding baby needs. The manufacturer of over-the-counter orlistat, which goes by the trade name Alli, indicates that you should not take this medication while breastfeeding.

Weight-Loss Supplements

Weight-loss supplements are dangerous while breastfeeding, too. These are not drugs, but dietary supplements, as classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They don't need pre-market approval before they're released to the consumer market. The FDA relies on the manufacturer to ensure that the weight-loss supplement contains the ingredients on the label. However, the FDA says many weight-loss supplement manufacturers sneak in prescription weight-loss drugs -- the same weight-loss drugs that breastfeeding women cannot take. The FDA tested many contaminated supplements that contained sibutramine, a prescription weight-loss drug taken off the market in 2010 after it was associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Calories and Breastfeeding

Decreasing your appetite while breastfeeding can be counterproductive to the nourishment of your baby. The Weight-Control Information Network indicates that breastfeeding mothers need to eat around 200 more calories a day more than they did during pregnancy. Women who choose not to breastfeed can cut their calorie intake by around 300 a day.

Safe Weight Loss

Doctors don't prescribe weight-loss drugs lightly. Usually, these are reserved for obese individuals whose weight poses a danger to their health. These drugs aren't for women who want to get back in shape after childbirth or for other cosmetic purposes. To regain your body, MayoClinic.com advises you to focus on healthy foods like fruit, veggies, low-fat dairy foods and lean proteins like skinless chicken, fish and beans. Avoid unnecessary snacking and calorie-heavy foods. If you had an uncomplicated delivery, you can start exercising within a few days after childbirth. Start with light aerobic activities, such as walking, swimming and stationary cycling, and increase the duration and intensity of your workout as your body grows stronger. Get into the habit of exercising daily. Be patient with yourself. It may take six months or even longer before you get back to your pre-baby weight.

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