Jessie James Decker has always been super open about the ups and downs of breastfeeding. She's talked about how it can feel like your baby is nursing 23 hours a day, and how some days can be really hard. And now, she's talking about another challenge new moms can relate to: Finding time to work out.
"I barely finished my work out, because he started waking up from his nap, crying," Decker says in a breathless Instagram video shot mid-nursing session. "I did it. It was a 10-minute workout and I feel really good about it."
The mom of three welcomed her youngest, little Forrest, at the end of March and still isn't quite back into her old wardrobe (that's totally normal, by the way, almost 20% of moms are still carrying an extra 11 pounds or so 6 to 18 months after giving birth ).
In the caption for her Instagram video, Decker reveals that, like Serena Williams , in her experience, breastfeeding doesn't lead to weight loss, and these high profile mamas are not alone. Women are often told that breastfeeding will help them get back to their pre-pregnancy weight faster, but the science isn't that clear-cut.
One study of U.S. women found that " exclusive breastfeeding for at least three months has a small effect on postpartum weight loss ." A review of several studies on breastfeeding and postpartum weight loss found breastfeeding for 3 to 6 months "seemed to have a negative influence on" postpartum weight retention, but nursing beyond 6 months didn't have any impact.
Some research suggests the weight loss benefit could be as little as one pound, while a study of more than 14, 000 mothers found those who exclusively breastfed for longer than 6 months weighs 1.38 kg (about 3 pounds) less than those who did not breastfeed.
One to three pounds of weight loss isn't exactly moving the needle.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics , "studies of the overall effect of breastfeeding on the return of the mothers to their pre-pregnancy weight are inconclusive, given the large numbers of confounding factors on weight loss," like diet, activity, ethnicity and pre-pregnancy BMI.
So, in short, every mama is different and breastfeeding doesn't lead to massive weight loss for everyone, including Decker.
"I'm not one of those women that drops weight from breast-feeding," she writes on Instagram. "I'm one of those women that holds onto every little ounce of weight that I have to continue to make milk for my baby. So in the end all that matters is he's healthy and eating."
She goes on to say that she's "not going to lie" and would like to see some changes in her body. "But I have to remind myself I'm only four months post and we have to be patient with ourselves."
Sneaking in a 10 minute workout while Forrest is sleeping is making Decker feel better and is providing numerous benefits, including "reduction in fat mass, increased lean mass, improved lipid profiles, and enhanced mental outlook and acuity," according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
It may seem like 10 minutes isn't much, but experts suggest quick, high-intensity interval training workouts do make a big difference, and judging by how breathless Decker was in her video, that's likely what she was up to before Forrest got hungry.
"We now have more than 10 years of data showing HIIT yields pretty much the exact same health and fitness benefits as long-term aerobic exercise, and in some groups or populations, it works better than traditional aerobic exercise," Todd Astorino, a professor of kinesiology at California State University, San Marcos, told TIME last year.
The American College of Sports Medicine does note that HIIT workouts may increase the lactate in a nursing mama's milk, so it suggests breastfeeding or pumping before a sweat session if that's a concern, and notes that light and moderate exercise don't have any impact on breastmilk.
As Decker proves, sometimes 10 minutes is all a mama has, so we've got to work with that we've got.