Here’s Part II of Best for Babes’ exclusive interview with our Champ for Moms Gabby Reece, fitness expert, author, and wise-mom-philosopher, on exercise for nursing Babes! To win a hand signed copy of Gabby’s inspiring new book, My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper, read on! For Part I of this interview, click here.
Gabby is cheering on the incredible participants of Team We’ve Got Your Back, Babe! – - the first Nationwide Personal Fitness Challenge to back breastfeeding co-hosted by Best for Babes and Breastfeeding USA. 30 teams (and growing!) across the nation are sweating for the love of moms and babies and showing America that breastfeeding — the foundation of health — is a cause for everyone — dads, uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings, friends –to get behind. There’s still time to double-down on saving boobs and lives this fall! Join Team WGYBB through October 31 and help us stake the protection under our noses and the breastfeeding cause!
BFB: You mentioned that you got back to working out slowly but soon after you had Reece and Brody. How did you deal with the fatigue?
GABBY: An older gentleman I know who is taking care of a wife with Alzheimer’s once said to me that you learn that life is about acceptance, and yielding to the process. After I had my kids, I was much more fatigued in my whole being, the way you might feel when you are 8 months pregnant! You’re running on less sleep. You’re nursing. There’s a lot going on! So I learned to ride it out and not to force myself to go beyond my means, or to beat myself up about it, “what’s wrong with me? I could do this before?” Instead, I reminded myself, “you’ll get there again, it’s just you’re not there right now!”
BFB: After you have a baby, your whole body has changed. Your center of gravity has changed. And when your milk comes in, it changes again! How do you suggest moms make adjustments in their workout plans for that?
GABBY: You are top heavy when you are breastfeeding and your balance can be off kilter. So the first thing is to be extra aware that your center of gravity is different and keep your proprioceptors alert and awake. You don’t want to get clumsy, you’re already tired! If you are doing one-legged mini drills — like lunges– that don’t require any weights, aim to keep your scapula (shoulders) back and down; when you are nursing and holding a baby, you spend a lot of time hunched over. It’s all about understanding and accepting that you are in a temporary new body and learning how to be efficient and effective in it!
BFB: What exercises and for how much time per day would you recommend a new/nursing mom start out with to begin her climb back to being fit?
GABBY: Knowing who you are and what you need so you can maximize even just 20 minutes a day is what’s really important. I always say that if you can get your hands on a foam roller and roll your whole body to try to keep yourself in balance, that may be better than going to bang a bunch of iron! But if a woman knows that what she needs is going for a quick little walk or run because that is her therapy, then do that. No matter what you choose, it’s about moving in ways that feel good to you, and that will be beneficial for you.
BFB: What other exercises are particularly good for a breastfeeding mom’s body?
GABBY: I really encourage women to get into other postures besides sitting and holding their baby because it makes your hip flexors tight, which makes your back tight, and so on. The more I read about sitting, the more I learn about how bad it is for your body. A really good stretch you can do with your baby lying on the floor next to you to help alleviate that tightness, is the Psoas stretch. To do it, kneel down on one knee and extend the other leg on the floor behind you. Lean into the bent leg and hold that stretch for 2-4 minutes on each side. You will stretch that whole front line of your body which gets really tight from sitting, and still be freely interacting with your baby. Another good one for nursing moms is to lay back on a stability ball with your knees bent and your feet anchored to the floor. If you feel secure enough you can lay your baby on your stomach at the same time. But do this on a carpet surface, or someplace where it’s real sticky, so the ball is not rolling. This will really open your spine and build core strength. Do it for 5 minutes a couple of times per day. [BFB notes: If you are not yet stable enough to have your baby on your belly, then make that core work your goal!]
BFB: Did you find that you needed to plan breastfeeding around your workouts?
GABBY: I was never a big scheduler. Especially with a younger baby – the first 4-5 months –I was very much of the belief that when they need to nurse I should be there. However, I did generally nurse right before a workout. [BFB notes: Most women find that it is more comfortable to empty their breasts before a workout and it can help you avoid clogged ducts which occur from tight-fitting (sports) bras.] And of course, if I was gone for more than an hour, they would always want to nurse right away when I came back! A schedule, however, might work well for a mom who works out of the home or is training for a race. But for me, because of the nature of my job, where I can be at home, or take my kid on the road, I didn’t have a schedule.
BFB: What is your top tip for a nursing mom trying to establish a workout routine?
GABBY: That you don’t have feel guilty on the days that you don’t enjoy it! You need to put yourself in the most positive environment when you have a new child, and when you’re trying to nurse. What that means is, no friends that don’t support the mission. No family members that don’t support the mission. No one’s allowed to come into your zone that doesn’t support you, because you’re trying to support the baby!
BFB: We love that. We have always said that the best gift for a new mom is a gravy train of help from family and friends for things other than feeding the baby, like doing laundry, dishes, making dinner, or watching the older siblings.
GABBY: You know my husband used to joke with me as he was leaving to go surfing, and say “I’d be worthy if I could give milk!” But the fact is, they don’t! So the next question is what do I want him to do that would be helpful to me? What do I need from anyone around me that will be supportive of me accomplishing my mission? I think if you know how to manage it, and ask for help, people don’t feel alienated and are more than happy to do it.
Next in this Celebrity Blog Series: Gabby talks food! Nutrition for nursing moms who are exercising….You don’t want to miss these tidbits!
To win a hand signed copy of Gabby’s new book, My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper, leave a comment before midnight, September 30, 2013! U.S. addresses only, please. Winner will be chosen using random.org, and announced in the comments section. Winner will have three days to respond to an email from us, before we have to choose an alternate winner.