Baby is here, Congratulations! You and your sweet babe are cruising along breastfeeding, another Congratulations! You’ve waited the suggested 4-6 weeks from your doctor or midwife and you feel ready to ease back into exercising again, Congratulations! Let’s begin, superstar…
What I’d like you to remember, first and foremost, is that you grew a baby, birthed a baby and are now feeding baby with your body. Whoa, momma, that’s AMAZING stuff! Totally, flippin’ amazing. Please value your phenomenal body and the work it has done for the past year… Be kind to yourself. I think that’s worth repeating. Be Kind To Yourself. (*hugs from me*)
You might have heard through the grapevine that exercising can diminish your milk supply. There are not enough studies to prove that milk supply actually drops during regular or strenuous exercise. I recommend mom’s ease back into their exercise routine with confidence and awareness. You might not notice a decline in your supply at all. In fact, some women have reported an increase in supply. Every body is different. There are more reasons to exercise than to abstain from it.
Exercise reduces stress levels and boosts endorphins that can combat symptoms of depression. It is good for your digestive and cardiovascular systems, bone density and brain health. Exercise improves your overall mood, enhancing your connection to baby. There are so many reasons to get your blood flowing and lungs pumping!
In the beginning you’ll start out very gently with walking, yoga, an easy run or modified fitness class at the gym. Listen to your body. Just as you did in pregnancy and birth, your body will tell you when you’ve done too much. If you notice spotting or cramping, it would be best to let your body continue to heal for a few more weeks. Your joints are also still susceptible to injury since the hormone relaxin is flowing through your body up to 6 months after birth. Honor your body and give yourself time to get back on track.
If you notice when you return after working out, baby doesn’t prefer the taste of your sweat and isn’t keen to latch, try rinsing off with a washcloth. I must say, I’ve nursed my baby after running races and teaching hot power yoga and both kiddos have latched with no problem. I always think how weird that must be for them to taste the sweat on my body, but as long as they’re nursing, they do not care in the least!
Maybe you’ve already eased back into working out and you’re ready to take it to the next level. Go for it! You’ll never know how your body will react until you try. I trained for and ran my first half marathon while nursing my son. I ran the race when he was 8 months, our breastfeeding relationship was still very active. *Side note* tape your breastpads in so they don’t move around during a race! I may have leaked a little by the end of the race, hahaha!
Since I was a new mom and had not breastfed before, I was a slightly concerned about my supply. In the end, we had no issues. I made sure to increase my water intake. I also had lots of healthy snacks on hand to fuel my body. Those suggestions seem pretty simple and straight forward, but when it comes down to it, isn’t that one of your best ways to live a healthy lifestyle? Lots of water, whole foods and exercise, the perfect trio!
To make things a little easier, here are some simple tips to remember
Postpartum Exercise and Breastfeeding Checklist:
- Nurse baby before working out
- Wear a supportive sports bra. (My favorite? Lululemon’s Ta-ta Tamer!)
- Have fun! You should enjoy your workout, do something that makes you happy 🙂
- Hydrate again
- Eat well
- Enjoy those exercise induced endorphins and nurse that baby again.
So, beautiful mommy, get back to working out. Don’t fret about possible challenges until you actually face them. You and baby might continue your breastfeeding relationship without any bumps in the road! Since running my first half marathon while nursing my son, I was able to do that again with my daughter when she was around the same age. We’re still nursing strong at 21 months. I’m grateful for what my body can do and continue to be amazed at each new challenge met.
Starting is the hardest part. You’ve got this!
We would love to hear from you! What has been your experience with Postpartum Exercise and Breastfeeding?
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