Breastfeeding and Exercise: Logistics
The logistical side of exercising while nursing
Posted by lindsay wright
So you’ve put in the nine (actually 10) months that it took to grow the little one from a microscopic speck to a giant honey badger.
You got through labor. Maybe just barely. Maybe with flying colors. All that matters is that your precious little one is here!
Now you’ve had six weeks with little sleep, lots of crying (from you AND the baby), and you’re finally starting to get this whole mothering thing down.
After mothers have been cleared by their doctors to start exercising, usually around six weeks postpartum, one of the most common questions I receive as a pre/postnatal trainer is:
“How do exercise and breastfeeding work together?”
While it might not seem like a huge obstacle, starting an exercise regimen can be daunting. For many mothers, this might be the first time you’ve left your baby with someone other than your husband. And if you nurse, you know that babies are unpredictable – at times they want to eat every 1/2 hour, and sometimes they’re fine to go without milk for 2-3 hours at a time. It can leave a mother questioning this whole fitness endeavor. Fear not!
I thought I’d share my professional (and personal) advice on the matter. This will be a TWO PART series; today we’ll go over the logistics that a nursing mother will need to start exercising. Next week, I’ll discuss nutrition and calories necessary to sustain exercising while breastfeeding.
PART 1: LOGISTICS
KNOW YOUR CHILD’S SCHEDULE
First, let me speak as a mother who LOVED nursing both of her children. It can absolutely be done! And with great success! I found that what helped me the most in coordinating a nursing baby and a gym session was PLANNING.
Around six weeks, you should know a little bit more about your child’s schedule. When they wake up, when they’re hungry and when they want to play or be fussy. Knowing your child’s schedule will help YOU schedule your exercise time.
NURSE, RUN, NURSE
To ensure that you have enough time to get in a good workout (and more important, a little “me" time for yourself), nurse your baby right before you head out the door. Not only with this leave the baby full of mommy’s milk, but it will give you and your sitter more peace of mind while you’re out. One of the worst feelings while exercising is being rushed and hurried. Making sure your baby gets a full feeding, on both breasts if possible, will help with that anxiety. Plus, it will leave you feeling “lighter” during the workout!
When you return home from the gym or the track, you might find that you’re very full. Nurse your baby when you get home if you need.
**Trainer Tip – Some women find that their babies are sensitive to the lactic acid that can build up in the milk from exercising. This typically happens if you’ve completed an extremely hard interval training or weightlifting session. If you find that your baby has tummy problems or dislikes your post-workout milk, you might want to stick to low impact activities (swimming, biking, walking, light weights) until the baby is older. It really is trial and error.**
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
Invest in high quality nursing sports bras! While they might be pricey (ranging anywhere from $15-$80!), they are worth the investment! Some great brands: Motherhood Maternity, Maidenform La Leche series (<-my favorite!), and A Pea In The Pod.
La Leche League Pullover Sports Bra
HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
If you can afford a breast pump, buy one! (You might also be able to rent one for a reasonable price from your local health department, so ask around!) Having pumped milk on hand will help with any worries you might have with leaving your baby.
You’ll also want to leave any important information with your caretaker: the running path you’ll be taking, the number to your gym, and/or an expected time of arrival. Little details like these might be important if an emergency were to arise while you are gone.
TAKE JUNIOR WITH YOU
If you become uncomfortable at any point with leaving your baby to exercise, simply strap on your baby carrier and take him or her with you on a walk. You get some exercise and our baby gets some fresh air and Vitamin D. Walking with your baby can be a great way to ease back into fitness!
Please read again next week, when I’ll address the caloric and diet needs of a breastfeeding mother and how exercise can effect those needs! Happy exercising!
For more fitness and health tips, please visit my healthy living blog, Lindsay’s List, and join in on the fun at the LL Facebook page, where I host giveaways and weekly workouts!
3 back to baby