It’s a story as old as time. Woman has baby. Woman gives up things she loved before baby. Woman feels sad. The thing is, you don’t necessarily have to give up things that you love once you have children. The thing about running and breastfeeding is you really need to plan ahead. With proper planning, some extra thoughts on nutrition and hydration and a good sports bra, you can get moving.
Having a breastfeeding infant can make exercise challenging. For some reason, the thought of trying to escape for a run while nursing is just too much to wrap their head around. But guess what? You can have it all.
Talk To Your Doctor
First, don’t undertake a new workout regiment without talking to your doctor. Childbirth puts your body through a lot and you need to make sure you are ready to go. If you have a lactation consultant, she may have some advice for you on keeping your milk production high while working out and breastfeeding.
You can also seek out advice from online support groups of other breastfeeding mothers. Whatever your social media platform, there are plenty of groups out there.
If this is your first child you may be accustomed to being able to just put on your sneaks and run out the door. Perhaps the most important aspect of running while breastfeeding is the timing component. You need to time everything down to a science. The last thing you want is to be running with engorged breasts. You also don’t want to risk a hungry baby if you have not timed things correctly with his or her eating schedule.
Most breastfeeding mothers find it is in your best interest to either feed the baby or pump right before you run. Emptying your breasts before setting out to run will likely give you at least a couple of hours before you become uncomfortable.
Buy A New Bra
No matter how well your sports bras fit before baby, you will most likely need a new sports bra. Most women find themselves needing to go at least one size up when nursing. If you went up a cup while pregnant you could also go up another full cup post delivery!
You want one that offers support but is not overly restrictive. The last thing your sensitive nipples is to be trapped in a bra that is too tight or chafes.
Staying properly hydrated is always important as an athlete. As a breastfeeding mom, it is crucial. Drinking plenty of water is necessary to keep milk production at optimal levels. Runs that did not require you to hydrate before breastfeeding, you will probably need to bring water now.
If you think you’re drinking enough, think again. One of the common reasons for women’s milk production to decline is low water intake. It’s one easy way to be sure you are producing as much as you can!
Many women don’t need to eat a lot more while breastfeeding. The average breastfeeding mom needs about 500 more calories than if she were not nursing. If you are working out quite a bit, you may find yourself in a calorie deficit. This could result in your producing less milk than you were before you started working out.
Studies show that moderate exercise in and of itself does not usually impact milk production. Strenuous exercise can lower milk production so be mindful of that. Most women do find that proper fueling can compensate for strenuous exercise.
Foods to Increase Milk Production
If you find yourself not producing as much milk as you had before, there are some foods that have been known to increase production.
✓ Barley: Although barley is found in beer, that may not be the best way to supplement it into your diet. Barley is a grain that can be easily added to soups.
✓ Oats: One of the most common ways to add food to the diet that is well known to aid in increasing production is oats. You can enjoy oats as oatmeal, in cookies, and in breads.
✓ Fennel: Fennel has been used for centuries in other countries to help increase milk production. You can use it in cooking or eat it raw.
✓ Barley Malt: Found in health food stores, barley malt is frequently used as a sweetener.
✓ Lean Meats and Poultry: Eating animal protein products that are lean can also help milk production. Stay away from highly processed and fatty meats. Getting a sufficient amount of iron in your diet is important as you amp up your workouts.
✓ Get Your Calcium: Whether you are getting it from milk, yogurt or another source, keep your calcium intake high.
Don’t Forget To Leave Milk At Home
Just in case you get caught up in your workout or your baby wakes up hungry and cranky, always have a Plan B at home. If you are committed to your workout, someone at home needs to be committed to meeting the baby’s needs if he or she shows signs of hunger.
Having milk at home is a great way to be sure you don’t feel too restricted to get back at a certain time. Whether you pump right before you leave or have a stash frozen ready for your partner to thaw, you can head out the door knowing baby will be just fine.
If you are planning to pin on a race bib while still breastfeeding, that might require additional planning. Even if the race is fairly local, driven to and from an event takes extra time. You should practice things out so you know how you will feel on race day.
For example, if the race is 45 minutes away and you plan to feed the baby right before you leave, practice that. By the time you feed baby, drive to the race, go through packet pickup and run the race, do you have time to drive home before your breasts will become full and uncomfortable? This is why it’s important to practice what will happen on race day.
You may need to pack a hand pump or battery-operated pump to use in the car right after the race before heading home. Or you might need to pump for. a few minutes before the race just to lighten things up a little.
Give Yourself Grace
The final thing that bears mention is to remember that if you are a breastfeeding mom it means you have recently grown a human within your body. Now you are providing nourishment for that human. Your body has been through a lot and you are continuing to ask a lot of it.
Throughout this journey, you need to be patient with your body and give yourself grace as you try to balance motherhood and running. Be as kind and patient with yourself as you would tell another woman to be with herself.
How To Increase Breast Milk