Olympic Medalist Deena Kastor Supports Nursing in Public

Written by Danielle Rigg, JD CLC

Deena Kastor, 38, winning her first race since having Piper, the San Jose RocknRoll Half Marathon. Photo courtesy Andrew Kastor.

Deena Kastor, Olympic Running Medalist, American Record Holder, and new mom to daughter Piper, age 10 months, shares how treating breastfeeding like training for a race is a great game plan for success!  Deena’s steady focus on her goal,  smart choices, and some French Toast at 3am from her husband  — took her from breastfeeding intention to a strong finish with very few Booby Traps!  Congratulations Deena – you’re unstoppable and you’re an inspiration to moms everywhere!  (Read to end of post for our Runner’s Giveaway!)

Thanks to Fairhaven Health for sponsoring this post!

Best for Babes: Were you “Booby-Trapped“?  We often say that trying to breastfeed despite booby-traps is like trying to run a race in heels while people throw tomatoes at you! Deena Kastor:  I was lucky that Piper latched immediately in the hospital, but I did have a hard time producing enough for her monstrous appetite.  Hydration proved to be my biggest necessity to produce enough milk.  I always had my water bottle with me when I was nursing.  Hydration not only helped with my milk supply, but also helped stabilize my tired self throughout the day.  BfB: Most moms can more than meet their baby’s needs. See an IBCLC (find one at ILCA.org) if you are concerned about your milk supply. Drink a glass of water every time you nurse, especially if you are exercising.

Thanks to Britax and BOB for sponsoring this post!

How is breastfeeding going now? Piper is 10 months old and I stopped breastfeeding at 6 months . . .  she was taking the bottle and even food at this time.  It was a natural progression for our daughter.  Either way, it was Piper who decided to wean.  During breastfeeding it was very important for me to eat well and rest so that I was offering the optimal nutrition for my daughter.  BfB: Kudos to Deena for making it to six months! Despite recommendations from the AAP, CDC and WHO, only 44% of moms are breastfeeding at all at six months, and only 14% are breastfeeding exclusively).  Although Deena’s training schedule may have affected her supply, natural, baby-led weaning usually doesn’t occur until a child is well into their second year of life or later.  Your IBCLC can identify ways to help you boost your supply.  Pumping or hand-expressing can signal your body to make more milk.  Also, it is a myth that an improper diet will diminish your supply or make your milk nutrient-lacking: another one of breastfeeding’s miraculous “fail-safes” is that your body will take whatever vital nutrients you’ve got and make them available to your babe– leaving you potentially depleted.  So stock up on nutrients for YOU!

Did being a competitive runner help your mindset?  Did you have anyone cheer you on with breastfeeding? I think running helped in my entire approach to pregnancy, breastfeeding and raising Piper.  I would focus on the desired outcome and then make choices to get to my desired goal.  Most of the last year has been so rewarding in that we have a healthy daughter who sleeps through the night!

Thanks to Milkmakers for sponsoring this post!

My husband has been amazing throughout all of this.  I remember breastfeeding at 3 am and he came out from the bedroom asking if I need anything.  “French toast?”  He gladly made me his world’s best French toast at that absurd hour.  He is currently so hands-on with Piper.  He would win “Dad of the Century” if there was that honor.  BfB: Setting goals is a great way to awaken your inner breastfeeding athlete.  See “Get your Best Breastfeeding Game on, The Learning Curve, and our Ultimate Breastfeeding Preparation Checklist. Make a commitment to breastfeed and get great coaches and crowds of cheering peers, family, co-workers and employers to help you make your goal! With Dad on board, you’ve got the quintessential defender and teammate to help you get through any Booby Traps, and Dad gets loads of non-booby baby bonding time to cherish.

What advice would you give to new moms who are trying to re-gain their former fitness levels while breastfeeding? Any tips on overcoming the fatigue that comes with having a young baby? The only thing that got me back into shape was rest.  What a celebration to finally sleep through the night.  It is really important to take care of ourselves without the guilt of feeling selfish.  When we are operating optimally, we are better parents.  There is no rule of thumb on what to do and when.  I thought I would be active my entire pregnancy and found it so uncomfortable to even walk, that I was sedentary for 5 months.  After Piper was born, it was easy to get back into running because running felt good again.  Listen to your body.  I mean REALLY listen.  The feedback I got from my body was more valuable than any book I read.  BfB:  Studies show that breastfeeding mothers get at least as much, if not more sleep than formula-feeding mothers.

Thanks to Simple Wishes for sponsoring this post!

Did you notice any drop in your milk supply as you started to train harder? If so, what did you do about it? Breastfeeding is so important for the nutrition and development of your child.  It is also important for our own bodies to go through this natural process.  But, I wouldn’t stress if it isn’t working out.  I actually found that my milk supply went up when I integrated some formula and took some pressure off myself.  At this same time, I began training harder but I really think it was the alleviation of stress that helped with my supply.   BfB: We agree with Deena! Breastfeeding and human milk provide immediate and lifelong protection against many of the illnesses and diseases which have sadly become epidemic: for baby: ear and gastrointestinal infections, SIDS, leukemia, obesity, asthma, diabetes, and even breast cancer for baby girls; for mom: breast and ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, diabetes,obesity and heart disease.  Breastfed babies have even been shown to have stronger leg muscles at adolescence (watch out for future marathoners!). Breastfeeding burns 500 additional calories per day  (equivalent to 45 minutes of running 5mph for a 170 lb woman), so it’s a work-out for you, too! Too much stress can affect your confidence and your milk supply, so ask for help and let household chores fall to family and friends for a while. Remember that breastfeeding does not have to be all or nothing, any breastfeeding is better than none, and a good IBCLC can help make it all work for you. Best for Babes believes that what is best for moms and babies is to make informed decisions and to achieve their personal goals, whether that is to breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months, 2 years, use donor milk, or formula feed.  See Our Credo.

How do you feel about nursing in public? Recently a mother was harassed at Target, and another mother was humiliated by a judge for nursing discreetly in a courtroom, even though breastfeeding is legal and protected in public places. I fully support breastfeeding in public, even though I was a little more on the modest side.  Moms everywhere should be entitled to feed their children, and it is a shame that others would feel threatened by that.  BfB: Best for Babes advocates for an end to the harassment, humiliation and discrimination nursing moms unfairly face while trying to breastfeed their babies in public.  Condemning public breastfeeding is a cultural Booby Trap even more than a legal one – nearly every state has laws protecting a mother’s right to nurse but too many people are still squeamish and uncomfortable seeing babies breastfeeding.  To get involved, contact takeaction@BestforBabes.org.

We love Deena’s self-assured attitude, determination and special brand of encouragement.  Thanks Deena, for leading the pack and the way!  To learn more about our athletic teams working to Beat the Booby Traps and Put Prevention First visit Team BfB!  Special thanks to Fit Pregnancy and Runner’s World for helping us spread the word on this interview.

Runner’s Giveaway: In honor of Deena, and all the babes who are hitting the pavement while breastfeeding, we’ve put together a fabulous giveaway, valued at $776, courtesy of the generous sponsors of this post:

1. A BOB Stroller Strides Stroller, red, valued at $469

2. A Britax Baby Carrier in black, valued at $130

3. A Three -Month Supply of Fairhaven Health’s Nursing Blend, valued at $54

4. A Generous Supply of Milkmakers Cookies, valued at $54

4. A Simple Wishes Hands-Free Pumping Bustier, valued at $39

5.  Autographed copy of Run Like a Mother by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, valued at $15, plus a gift certificate for Train Like a Mother, their new book due out in March, also valued at $15.

To win this fabulous prize package, enter by leaving a comment below by February 8th, 2012. 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, and products will be directly shipped from the sponsor.



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277 Comments | Last revised on 02/01/2012

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277 Responses to Olympic Medalist Deena Kastor Supports Nursing in Public

  1. Nan says:

    Thanks for a great article! So encouraging!

  2. elizabeth callahan says:

    inspirational and encouraging! thank you!

  3. Angie says:

    Great information, leaving me waiting more! I hoped for more specifics about her training- how soon, how much, exactly what etc., but it’s hope and a start!

  4. Jessica Monson says:

    I watched Deena race at Olympic trials in Houston, she was fierce. It was so emotional to watch her cross the finish line waving to the crowd. Deena you are an amazing runner and I am sure an amazing mom to Piper. Congratulations!!

  5. Traci says:

    It’s refreshing to see her holistic approach to it all. Setting goals isn’t new but the thought and reminder to other moms that it isn’t selfish to make that time for yourself is so great! And letting a man be the half of the whole parent that he is! Really impressed!

  6. Laura says:

    I loved this interview. I’m currently pregnant with my first. I’m looking forward to being able to train hard again.

  7. Holly says:

    Thanks so much for this interview! As a new mom training for a spring marathon the breast feeding advice was really helpful.

  8. Carol says:

    Thanks for the article, it’s great to hear from elite athletes that it can be done,

  9. Rebecca says:

    So inspiring as new mom who’s still breastfeeding 7 months in and trying to get back into my running routine. Thanks for doing this interview!

  10. Kelsey says:

    Mommy of a 19 month old! Awesome article!
    Love to run with my girl!

  11. Nicole says:

    Thank you! Enjoy reading others experiences. I am a 41 yo mama of 13 week old twin boys and exclusively breastfeeding and training over 50mpw with hard workouts. No supply issues here and none with my first pregnancy too. I eat alot and drink lots and lots of water 🙂

  12. Christine says:

    Very encouraging and inspirational! She is a great role model!

  13. Kristin says:

    go deena! i’m a runner and mom of one 3y/o… nursed for 13mo… and yes… blessed sleep… when it finally comes… is amazing…

  14. Rachael says:

    Great article! Nursing in public while I read it on my iPhone:)

  15. Ashley Rupp says:

    So glad to see an article that addresses this. There is a lot of literature available about exercising and running while pregnant, but hardly any on exercising while nursing. I would love to see this topic become more mainstream to encourage women that breastfeeding does not mean giving up what’s important to them. If more women saw how they could fit it into their regular daily routine, I think more would keep up with it.

  16. Sara McGrath says:

    Thanks for supporting being a mom and being in shape! As a mom of three (a 2yr old and 9 month old twins), running helps my sanity and helps me be the best mom I can be to my little ones.

  17. Sara McGowan says:

    Deena is an inspiring mom and runner to this mom/runner. I love her approach to breastfeeding.

  18. Beth says:

    Great article. Thanks!

  19. French Toast at 3am!!! That. Is. Amazing. My hubs is always pretty rockin too…Water, raw nuts, fruit snacks…But french toast is a whole new level.

  20. Kristen says:

    Go Deena! I’m about to start back into running at 2mo PP with baby #3 (all breastfed).

  21. Christine says:

    Great article!!

  22. Andrea says:

    Good for her.Can’t wait to see her in London!

  23. Ruralrabbit says:

    Love Deena’s relaxed attitude and her trust in the ability of her body to perform if given what’s needed both in breastfeeding and in running.

  24. Ashley Ratzlaff says:

    Awesome article! Kudos to her for nursing for 6 mo. Water is key in keeping my supply up too!

  25. Kami says:

    Very inspiring – particularly the reminder to really listen to our bodies!

  26. Charleen Meyer says:

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  27. Beth says:

    What a great article! I’ve recently started running again and I’ve been wondering how it will affect my supply.

  28. Nancy says:

    Thanks for a great article with encouraging words about breastfeeding even when it is difficult. I had difficulty with my first born latching and I was only able to pump 8 to 10 oz a day but I figured it was better than nothing. I did that for 6 months. I hope with my upcoming pregnancy I can only breastfeed.

  29. Frency says:

    Read this article while breast feeding my 5 month old baby. I’m running my first race since birthing my baby tomorrow! This article was very encouraging!

  30. Anne says:

    I agree with you Deena on how key support is when it comes to successful breastfeeding. My husband is also very hands on and helped me stay fed, hydrated, and let me venture out for long runs for me to gain a little sanity from time to time. I was able to nurse for 13 months, and set a PR in my 5k, 10k, and half times all while breastfeeding.

  31. Jennifer Wallace says:

    Love to see a great athlete breastfeeding! And to know that she didnt run her entire pregnancy. I was feeling guilty about not running thru pregnancy, its nice to know not everyone can do it and and each individual needs to listen to their body.

  32. Amanda N. says:

    What a great article! I wondered about breast feeding and training… My baby is due in 10 days!

  33. Jocelyn says:

    Awesome story – thanks for sharing!

  34. Sarah Yankowiak says:

    As a recreational runner, I’ve struggled with running and nursing my first two children, always having to drop the running in order to continue breast feeding. Am currently breast feeding my five-month old third baby and wondering if I should try to pick up running again. While it was interesting to read Deena’s experience, I still wonder if running and breast feeding are just not compatible. Thanks for the article!

    • Bettina Forbes, CLC says:

      Every mama and baby is different. There are lots of runners who can breastfeed successfully while training, for others, milk supply drops. Our friend Cassandra Leahy, IBCLC is a runner and would be able to advise you on how to keep your supply up while training. http://thelactationlady.com/

  35. Janet Webb says:

    Wonderful article! I nursed my children as well.

  36. Lacy Naud says:

    What a relief knowing even the pros stop running during pregnancy. I still have a small amount of guilt that I stopped after 21 weeks. Deena, you are a great role model for breastfeeding runners out there! BfB, thank you for the GREAT article!

  37. Amanda says:

    So encouraging! I read this article while nursing and it’s really helped me get the boost I needed to start training hard again. I’ve got a half marathon in April to train for!

  38. Jayna Vroman says:

    This was a great article, it is wonderful to have athletes that have breastfeed give us moms some feedback and encouragement. Thank you Best for babes for the extra added info.

  39. Gayathri says:

    Excellent article! I strongly agree that breastfeeding in public should be encouraged and supported. How sad it is to criticize breastfeeding. After all every one of us was breastfed at one point of time. Nobody should forget that. It will enable moms too out and have some change and can relieve some stress by not being at home all the time.

  40. Jennifer says:


  41. Laura s says:

    Deena is amazing, thanks for spotlighting such an amazing mom & athlete

  42. Amy says:

    Training for my first half-marathon before we have baby #2. I really want to get in great shape before getting pregnant again. It is reassuring to hear that she was so uncomfortable the last 5 months of her pregnancy. I felt the same way and it was so hard to stay active. It was painful! I’m just now feeling back to normal and my son is 20 months:) Great article.

  43. Heidi says:

    What a terrific article! And thanks for offering the great set of prizes.

  44. Heidi B says:

    This is AMAZING!

  45. Lynette says:

    Great info! Thanks!!

  46. Stephanie says:

    Wow! This was an awesome article! It would be a privilege to win this prize package!! Breastfeeding is so important to me!! I can’t wait for baby #2 to arrive in April!

  47. Vanessa O'Keefe says:

    Wonderful article! Will share!

  48. Sarah says:

    Love this! Thanks for the chance to win. Expecting #2 next month.

  49. Lauren House says:

    I love seeing encouraging articles about nursing moms that run!

  50. Christy says:

    Great article, great lady!

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