Are you committed to breastfeeding your baby and starting him off on the right foot nutritionally? Do you struggle to balance breastfeeding and workouts? Does breastfeeding cause you discomfort during workouts? Here are five ways to balance breastfeeding and fitness from fit mom and featured guest blogger, Tara.
Mothers who are able to breastfeed their children do so with the best of intentions — and a smidge of frustration as months of “whipping them out” ensue. No matter how long you choose to breastfeed your baby, it quickly dawns on you that it’s worth it, but also frustrating in certain situations. One of which directly relates to fitness. From baby’s schedule to the resulting sensation of full breasts, life gets crazy and crazy uncomfortable at times. But there are certainly ways to achieve balance, especially in terms of breastfeeding and fitness.
Five Ways to Balance Breastfeeding and Fitness
1) Strengthen your upper back. Before you even begin breastfeeding, you’ll want to make sure you focus on strengthening the muscles in your upper back. This can and should be done while you are pregnant and once baby is born, provided you’ve got your physician’s approval to exercise. As your breasts grow—and they will grow—they’ll add weight to your upper body, which can put particular strain on the upper back muscles as they fights to keep you from slouching. Here is a list of exercises you might pick from:
2) Invest in a great sports bra. Pick one that supports you and your need to nurse. Not that you’ll need to nurse mid-workout, but if you start your day dressed for the gym, you might consider yourself dressed for success. Motherhood Maternity has a really great (and affordable) option, the Sports Clip Down Nursing Bra:
You might also consider finding one with added padding to hide any leaks that might occur. The above does not contain any additional padding, but it is thicker than most sports bras. You can always use nursing pads—they work in sports bras, too.
3) Don’t exercise on a full chest. Time your workouts after feedings or pump before you hit the gym. A full chest gets uncomfortable fairly quickly, and can lead to leaking, both of which make for less than enjoyable workouts. When we move, our breasts bounce. The fuller they are, the more they’ll bounce which puts considerable strain on the ligaments that support them.
4) Stay hydrated. Your body needs all of the resources it can get when it’s producing food for another. If you’ve ever been dehydrated, then you know what it feels like to function at less than 100%. A fully hydrated body lends itself to a better milk supply—and a better workout.
5) Watch out for exercises that are done in the prone position. The only caution I might provide in terms of exercise and breastfeeding—proceed with care when doing any exercises that require you to lie flat on your stomach. Breastfeeding breasts can be sensitive, and the added pressure from contact with the floor can be extremely uncomfortable for some. Luckily, there are a gazillion and one exercises out there so there’s bound to be an alternative if one is needed.
Bottom line, breastfeeding isn’t a rope that tethers you to baby’s feeding schedule. The above are just a few of the ways that breastfeeding and fitness can be balanced—or at the very least, made more comfortable. Also, you’ll want to remember or be aware of the fact that breastfeeding alone will not take off the extra weight gained during pregnancy. And if you’re worried about the effects of exercise on your supply, you shouldn’t be.
Question: If you were able to breastfeed your children, what tip would you provide to a new mother regarding this special act?
Tara Sabo is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, wife and mother. She writes about these roles and more at www.adailydoseoffit.com, and can also be found on Facebook, Instagram (adailydoseoffit), and Twitter (@adailydoseoffit).