Some say you’ll lose your milk if you exercise while breastfeeding (false!). Some say it’ll make the milk go sour (really??). Myths like these have caused women to avoid physical activity while breastfeeding, which is a shame!
Exercise has numerous health benefits – increased cardiovascular fitness, restored muscle strength, and toned abdominal muscles. It may decrease the risk of postpartum depression and boost energy levels – two especially important things for postpartum women!
Though breastfeeding and exercise are compatible, sometimes it can be a bit tricky to schedule workouts when caring for an infant. Here are 5 things that can make it easier to fit exercise into your breastfeeding lifestyle!
- Be flexible
You’re all set to head out for a run, when baby decides it’s time for a long meal. Or, you’ve planned to meet a friend for a class, but baby is too fussy to leave. Know that these will happen, and have a backup plan. If baby is fussy, put her in a carrier or stroller and take her for a walk. Find at-home workouts that you can do with baby. Look to see if there are Mommy and Me workout classes in your area, such as aquaBelly Baby & Me or FIT4MOM. These have the added bonus of using baby’s weight to increase the intensity of the workout!
- Nurse or express milk before working out
This is purely for your comfort, Babes! Full or engorged breasts are uncomfortable when you are standing still, but if you add in movement…OUCH! Softening the breasts through nursing or expressing prior to working out will make your workout go much more smoothly (plus, you won’t have to worry so much about leakage).
- Support your breasts (but not too much!)
A good sports bra is essential. You want something that will keep your breasts from bouncing around too much, but you don’t want to squish them too tightly. Wearing tight bras/clothes for too long can increase your risk of clogged ducts. Loving Moments by Leading Lady offers nursing sports bras that will support the girls and allow you to quickly nurse the baby if he decides he needs a snack mid-workout!
- Stay hydrated
If you’re sweating, you need to put that water back in your body. Have water handy before, during and after workouts. No need to force it – just drink to thirst. Sports drinks aren’t necessary unless you’re working out for very long periods of time (think distance running or prolonged sporting events); often these are loaded with sugar and can contain more calories than you burn during the workout. Eating healthy snacks (a banana is great) will also replenish the minerals in your body.
- Eat all the food!
Many postpartum women are eager to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy. However, breastfeeding is not the time to cut calories, especially when working out! Cutting calories too much could impact your health and possibly lower milk supply. Keep healthy foods within easy reach. Good rule of thumb: if you’re hungry, eat! Make sure to eat several small meals per day and set yourself up with snacks you can eat with one hand while holding baby; carrot sticks, apples, celery and hummus. Use your blender to whip up pineapple, kale, banana and orange juice smoothies.
Put these tips to work! Get your Babe back on this fall with We’ve Got Your Back, Babe! – our annual nationwide personal fitness challenge – and sweat to help us Beat the Booby Traps®. Superstar athleticism not required! You can dance, stretch, walk, golf, swim, spin – it doesn’t matter, as long as you move! This year we’ve partnered with the United States Lactation Consultant Association, Breastfeeding USA and Kellymom.com to raise money and awareness to help expecting moms avoid and navigate the barriers they face before they deliver! Learn more and register or donate!
Exercise and breastfeeding resources