Too little?
October 28, 2007 8:25 PM   Subscribe

How much weight loss is too much?

When I was pregnant I gained sixty pounds. After I had my baby I started losing weight. So far I've lost eighty pounds. My BMI is now 18.5. I thought maybe I wasn't losing weight still, but my child is still nursing, and, well, I think I still see a pound disappear every few weeks. (At least it's not every week like at the beginning.) I try to eat as much as I'm hungry for and frequently.

I'm mostly wondering, is there a point at which I should go to my doctor about this?

Is there a way to determine if I'm still as healthy as I should be, even though I'm this light?
posted by Margalo Epps to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First, what was your BMI at the begining of pregnancy?

During pregnancy your body stores extra energy (fat) for milk production. Most of this extra fat gets used up during lactation, but not always. In your case, it is likely that you are losing too much weight - lots of things can cause this... What is your diet, estimated Kcal per day? Are you restricting any foods? Cutting carbs or fat?
posted by sindas at 8:29 PM on October 28, 2007

BMI of underweight is 'below 18.5', which is a good guide for 'time to see a doctor', especially as you're nursing.
posted by jacalata at 9:01 PM on October 28, 2007

Remember, however, that BMI has recently been scrutinized as an ineffective one-size-fits-all* method of measuring overall health and fitness. In this case, a doctor who specializes in weight management is probably your best bet.

*Pun intended
posted by Brittanie at 9:49 PM on October 28, 2007

18.5 is a bit low for a typical nursing mom, but Brittanie is right in that a person with a slight bone structure could be perfectly healthy at 18.5. I'd be in a coffin at that BMI. (I think my bones have a BMI of 15, OTOH I've met people who would look pudgy with any BMI over 20)

Keep some high calorie foods on hand (ice cream, cookies, meat (if your ethics allow)). If you find that you're scarfing them down, great, that means your body wants to put weight back on. If you find that you can't eat more than a few ounces of such rich fare, you're probably fine.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 10:14 PM on October 28, 2007

I didn't say 'manage your BMI until it fits the guidelines', I meant to say 'an extreme BMI is an indicator that you might want to see a doctor to see if you are actually healthy at your current weight'.

TeatimeGrommit: I'm pretty sure that most people I know could eat way more icecream than their body needed, whether or not they need to put weight on. I don't know of any evidence that a person's desire/capacity for rich food can be lniked to their need to put weight on. Mine certainly isn't!

The initial question: Is there a way to determine if I'm still as healthy as I should be, even though I'm this light?
Yes. Go and ask someone who can actually look at you, ask what you eat, how you feel, etc, and also has a professional background in how people's bodies should work. A doctor is probably the easiest to arrange. A good gym should have people on staff, a good nutritionist, etc, should also be able to help.
posted by jacalata at 11:02 PM on October 28, 2007

Is there a way to determine if I'm still as healthy as I should be, even though I'm this light?

Ignore BMI. Get your check-ups, get your testing done (cholesterol, PAP, that sort of thing), and don't worry about it.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. For the most part, it has a lot of built-in mechanisms that activate and let you know when something's wrong or right. Most of us don't really know how to read the signs.

I try to eat as much as I'm hungry for and frequently.

That sounds good to me, although you might want to check out a book like Intuitive Eating, to make sure you're really eating as much as your body requires. This is different for different bodies, so it's your body that has to be listened to, not anyone trying to fit you into a particular mold.

Sudden, unexplained weight loss can be a sign of something bad, but in my opinion, there are usually other signs as well. For example, weight loss can be a sign of depression, but that's probably because a person is too depressed to eat. If you're eating normally (for you), and you feel well physically and mentally, I don't see why you'd have to go to the doctor.
posted by Danila at 11:13 PM on October 28, 2007

why not give a call to your doctor? you may not even need an appointment--just tell them that you've noticed that you're losing more weight than you anticipated and think you're eating right, and is that something to worry about?

your doc may say no, or not to worry unless you reach xx weight, or to come in right away. s/he will know much better than us.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:23 AM on October 29, 2007

It's worth getting a check-up, just to rule out post-partum thyroiditis.
posted by mothershock at 6:04 AM on October 29, 2007

Nursing will melt away your weight. If you feel good, and are eating well, you'll probably gain back a bit after you stop nursing. You might want to make sure you're getting the best possible nutrition, plenty of wholegrain carbs, and take a multivitamin.
posted by theora55 at 6:36 AM on October 29, 2007

:) No advice...

Just wanted to say I think I know of what TeatimeGrommit mentioned - as that is how I eat.

Sure we'd all 'feel' like eating icecream or doughnuts (ect) all day and I guess some of us do but it's more to do with being aware of what you're hungry (precisely) for.

Actually maybe I can be helpful!
Whey Powder ?
It's good stuff :) Lots of good calcium for bub to syphon off, oh and you might get some benefit from it too? :D
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 9:41 AM on October 29, 2007

A nursing mother can eat like an elephant. I've read that nursing can burn an extra 500 calories a day. I only gained 25 lbs when I was pregnant, and lost it all after just six weeks.

Are you getting enough protein?
posted by frecklefaerie at 2:10 PM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: I don't know if I'm getting enough protein. I try to incorporate some in, but I don't watch what I eat or keep track of it. I've never been a dieter, so I don't have any of those habits.

I'm not planning on quitting nursing soon, which is why I wondered.

I am still feeling healthy, and I'm able to walk a long ways and play with my baby. I just didn't know if there was anything else to pay attention to.
posted by Margalo Epps at 3:05 PM on October 29, 2007

Also consider, especially if this is your first child, that the job of caring for a new baby comes with lot of stress, physical activity, hard work and loss of sleep. These are factors that can contribute to weight loss as well.
posted by Brittanie at 6:08 PM on October 29, 2007

Response by poster: Hmm. Looked up the symphtoms of post-partum thyroiditis, but it includes "sudden" weight loss. This really has been gradual; initially two or so pounds a week, now more like a pound every other week.

And for those who want numbers: 5'9", pre-pregnancy 146 lbs, pregnancy 205 lbs, current 121 lbs. (I haven't weighed this little since I was twelve.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:22 PM on October 30, 2007

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