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November 7, 2017
If you worked out prior to welcoming your baby into the world or during pregnancy like many women do, then I’m sure you’re eager to get back to it! Even if you never worked out before, many women feel the need to workout after meeting their postpartum bodies. While breastfeeding, there are a few questions that quickly came to my mind. Maybe you had a few of the same questions. I will try to answer these below.
Exercise alone with not affect your milk supply as long as you are hydrating and eating an adequate amount of your healthy diet.
Well, be sure to shower or wipe off after exercise as sweating may cause a salty taste for your baby. Other than that, as long as you stay within 80% of your maximum heart rate, then your body won’t produce enough lactic acid to change the flavor of your milk. Since you should be easing into things after giving birth to an actual human being, there is no shame in starting slow!
No! Exercising does not affect the nutritional value of milk. Studies have shown that breastfed babies of moms who exercise regularly grow just as much as babies who are breastfed by non-exercising moms. Moms who exercise obviously would exhibit better cardiovascular health which is great for baby in the long run and can provide more energy for moms who will soon have to chase around a crawling/walking baby!
It is important to give your body a full 6 weeks of recovery although moderate walking and stretching are fine during the 6 weeks. Remember, you just grew a human being inside of you for 40 weeks! Things have changed and you will need to allow your body adequate time to recover. For example, I had a c-section and after 6 weeks of nothing but light walking, I tried to chase my nephew's basketball across the driveway. I was shocked that my body literally didn’t remember how to run. It felt SO weird – and I know it looked even worse. As an athlete, it was almost traumatizing. Don’t let changes like this cause you to think you need to go at 100% for hours a day. If you are breastfeeding your baby, you will need energy and time to feed them. Make sure you aren’t working out to exhaustion for hours each day.
I also had questions that may seem funny, but they’re real questions!
My non-scientific solution is to feed or pump right before going to the gym, keep workouts to about an hour, wear a supportive sports bra as your breasts are most likely much bigger than they were before and find good nursing pads to wear.
Your body is different. Do not get discouraged. Things that were easy before might not be so easy as quickly. That being said, at the beginning high-rise compression leggings and postpartum leggings are helpful to make you feel a little bit more like yourself. I was also give a postpartum girdle (doesn’t sound cute) in the hospital that definitely gives extra support for day-to-day activities and exercising.
There are workouts that you can actually do with baby such as walking or jogging outside and core exercises. Resources such as babyweight.tv provide guidance on core exercises that you can actually do WHILE breastfeeding.
The most important thing to remember is not to be too hard on yourself and to be proud of what you have accomplished. After having a baby, I felt like I should have been able to do a lot more, much more quickly than I did. I found myself beating myself up about not doing more during pregnancy so that maybe I could lose the baby weight more quickly. It isn’t just the weight either. It’s also the “mom body” with a jiggly belly, no muscle and the lack of time to do something about it. Change your mindset to the fact that exercising, no matter how fast or slow is setting a great example for your baby. Your health is what is important. Take your time and remember you will get back to where you want to be!
Hi! My name is Janel Littlejohn, I'm 29 years old, and I grew up in Sharpsville, Indiana. Prior to Aeroflow, I have worked in higher education as an adjunct professor, assistant athletic director and women's basketball coach. I married my husband, Corey in September 2016 and we are expecting our first child in September of this year (a little boy)!
Learn more about Janel!
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