Looking to exercise while breastfeeding but afraid of losing your milk supply? Try combining a sensible diet, breastfeeding and exercise and you will be able to get your body back, lose weight and keep your milk supply strong with these tips on managing it all from guest author Anne Stein from RunningMom.com.
Managing Your Exercise Program and the Demands of Breastfeeding
Managing your exercise program and the demands of breastfeeding can be a challenging undertaking. It is tough enough to find the motivation and time to get out there and exercise, add children to the mix and it only gets tougher, but add a child that you are breastfeeding and it can seem next to impossible.
However, the benefits of exercising are many. Not only will exercising help you to feel more fit, energetic and control your weight, but it’s a great way to get out, it will help you mange motherhood without becoming too frazzled, and it sets a great example for your child.
How to Handle the Challenges if You Want to Exercise While Breastfeeding:
So here are some tips to help keep the challenges minimal while maximizing the benefits.
Will exercising decrease my milk supply?
First of all, there is a common myth that working out decreases your milk supply. As a long distance runner, there have been times when I have wished that myth were true! 😉 Having run my second half marathon just four months after giving birth, and while breastfeeding my son exclusively, I spent half the marathon in excruciating pain because my milk had come in.
I have since learned of ways to avoid this pain. I now either take him along for the ride and take nursing breaks or I carry a pump with me.
Breastfeeding in Public
Most of the time, when I’m running I take my baby with me. I’ve run as much as 20 miles while pushing my baby in the jogging stroller (This is my favorite one!) The benefits of this are many.
First of all, it is an extra work out for me. Not only do I get my legs into shape, but I also workout those arms pushing the jogging stroller up and down hills. And as far as my baby is concerned, he loves it. It’s a chance for him to get some sunshine and fresh air and he enjoys the ride.
Whenever he gets hungry, I just stop, sit down on a bench, put a blanket over us and breastfeed him. Do be careful if you are trying this though. They like to pull the blanket off! To avoid this, I just tuck the top of it into my shirt. Don’t worry, the more you do it, the more efficient you’ll become.
Will exercising cause my baby not to be able to drink the milk I produce?
Another problem I’ve heard of is that some women have is an increase in lactic acid while they’re exercising that causes their breast milk to become undrinkable. I’ve never had this problem and medical studies don’t confirm that to be true either. He is always up for nursing.
But just in case I’m not in a spot where I can stop and nurse him right away, I always carry a pacifier and a bottle of watered-down juice. Something like apple juice is good, just make sure it’s 100% juice and I water it down a lot.
What if you’re not able to take your baby with you while you exercise?
There are some hand-held pumps you can carry with you on your runs. For example, when I ran the NYC marathon, I brought a pump with me and pumped right before, checked the pump in my bag and then picked it up and pumped again right after the marathon. For this I used an Avent hand-pump which cost me about $30.
If you exercise while breastfeeding, just keep in mind, this is not the time to go on a diet. Both exercising and breastfeeding burn extra calories to help you lose weight while breastfeeding and both of these activities are also dehydrating. So be sure to eat plenty of healthy food and drink plenty of water or a high electrolyte drink, like Gatorade. I make sure to carry a healthy snack with me when I’m exercising and breastfeeding.
Best of luck! Happy health and fitness to you and your baby!
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