Breastfeeding and Exercise – What you need to know

Today I am sharing a post from a fellow momprenuer. Autumn Bonner is the co-owner and co-founder of My Tailored Fitness, an online video-based fitness program for moms.  Through her program, moms can build their own custom workouts based on how much time they have and the intensity they want.  It’s like having your own custom workout video!  The exercises are created specifically for moms and use limited equipment so you can squeeze in a workout at home during nap time. Autumn is passionate about helping moms be healthy so that they can be examples for their kids. She talks with each member monthly to give suggestions and provide support to reach their goals. You can try her program free for 30 days. Just visit www.MyTailoredFitness.com or like her Facebook page www.facebook.com/mytailoredfitness for helpful fitness tips and great healthy recipes.

 

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Recently, I’ve received a bunch of questions from moms about exercising while breastfeeding, so I thought it would be a good topic for a blog post so we can cover everything you need to know!

 

 

After I had Sienna, I was really anxious to get back into my regular exercise routine so I could regain some sort of normalcy in my life.  I did wonder, however, what exercise would be like while nursing.  Would it be painful to run?  Would exercising affect how much milk I made? Do they make breastfeeding-friendly exercise tops? 

I decided to do a little research to find out.  Let’s cover the science stuff first and then we will take a look at the practical side. 

My resource for all things exercise and pregnancy related has been Dr. James Clapp’s Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. He has a chapter on breastfeeding and exercise that has a lot of great information.  Here are the highlights.

  • Regular exercise, even at high intensity, does NOT alter wither the quality or quantity of breast milk produced, unless the mom isn’t consuming enough calories.
  • Women who exercise and breastfeed should be sure to eat at least 1500 calories per day so that their breast milk production is not reduced.

When you exercise, you burn calories, and breastfeeding also burns calories (about 500 per day), so breastfeeding moms need to make sure they are consuming enough calories to cover the extra they are burning off during exercise and breastfeeding.  If the number of calories consumed drops below 1500, milk production can be affected. You will also need to increase your water intake, especially if you workout outdoors in warm weather.  The Boob Group has a great episode on this topic: Lose Weight While Maintaining Your Milk Supply.  The San Diego Breastfeeding Center blog also has an accompanying article: How to Lose Weight while Breastfeeding without Losing your Milk Supply

 

 

Ok, now on to some practical tips that will help make exercising while breastfeeding more comfortable

  • Buy a supportive sports bra

Prior to being pregnant, I never really had to worry about supportive sports bras because, well, I wasn’t too well endowed on top.  But that changed when I became pregnant and even more since Sienna arrived.  Luckily, the girls in my Stroller Strides class told me about Juno by Moving Comfort.  It’s a great, supportive bra that even has adjustable straps.  They also have a non-racerback version called Fiona.  Lululemon also sells a bra called the Tata Tamer.  Love the name!  It doesn’t have the adjustable straps, but works well too.  I wrote a blog post about supportive sports bras that you can read on my website: Support for your Girls - The best sports bra

  • Feed your baby right before you exercise

This will help a lot with comfort during your workout, especially for high impact activities like running or kickboxing.  Side note, did you know that there are laws that protect the right for women to breastfeed in public?  My lactation consultant, Robin, was actually just involved in resolving an incident here in San Diego where a woman was told she could not breastfeed her baby while she was waiting in traffic court.  Check out Robin’s article /blog/2013/2/7/a-resolution-to-the-chula-vista-courthouse-nursing-in-public.html here to read about it.  You can find your own state’s breastfeeding in public laws at www.breastfeedinglaw.com.  It’s always good to know your rights, just in case your little one decides she/he wants to breastfeed during your workout.

  • Try low impact exercise if you still have breast pain

If you still have any breast pain, try switching to lower impact exercise until your milk supply regulates and you are able to move around more comfortably.  You can still get a great workout without any jumping.  In all the Tailored Fitness videos, I give low impact options.  I also just filmed a series of Exercise with your Baby videos, which are all low impact and designed specifically for the newly postpartum mom.

Hope these tips help you to be able to breastfeed and exercise comfortably! 

 

What are your favorite tips for exercising while breastfeeding?