There are so many questions running through your mind as a new mum, many of those about breastfeeding. For something so natural, it can actually be pretty hard to get the hang of! Exercise is not only safe, but recommended while breastfeeding. Studies show exercise does not have any long term affect on milk supply or nutrient content.
The benefits of exercise to a breastfeeding mother include enhanced mental health, improved fitness and more energy to cope with the demands of a baby, so now is the time to get active!
Many mums want to get back into their exercise soon after baby has been born, but are nervous about the process. Will my supply be affected? What if I start leaking? How can I tame my “ladies”? It's all about making it work for you. Here's my top tips for getting back into it.
Don't rush back into high intensity exercise, allow your body to ease back into everything. Some women do find that increasing the intensity too quickly can affect their breastmilk supply, while others say it has no impact whatsoever.
You need to discover what works for you, but easing into exercise is advisable for everyone, even if you exercised right through your pregnancy. If you find noticeable changes in your milk supply or baby when introducing exercise, cut back and return gradually.
As a new mum, you may be sleep deprived and lethargic. You are also using more energy each day just by breastfeeding. Don’t forget, your supply can be affected by your lethargy, so don’t push it. It’s crucial that you are providing your body with the nourishment it needs, that is, good quality food, sleep and water, so you have the energy to exercise as well as produce milk.
In the early months, I find two to three days of exercise followed by a rest day is a good way to maintain and refill those energy stores.
Invest in a really supportive bra. Whether it be a breastfeeding bra or not, it needs to support your breasts so you can run with ease. Many women say their biggest challenge to overcome when it comes to exercise after baby is figuring out how to manage their breasts, so it’s invaluable to invest well and most of all, make sure it is correctly fitted.
There is evidence to suggest that lactic acid can build up in the milk supply during high intensity exercise. Once again, this can be different for all women, so just monitor your baby's response when feeding. If she doesn't mind, then continue. If you find bub struggles to feed after a workout, avoid feeding for 90 minutes, when your milk should return to normal.
And remember to change out of your sweaty clothes straight after a workout to avoid infection of the milk ducts.
Try to feed your baby before you do exercise. This will not only mean your baby isn't subjected to a sweaty, salty nipple, but will mean you're not as full while you're working out. It can also alleviate any concerns about lactic acid build up.
Before you leave for the run, insert fresh nursing pads into your bra to prevent a mid-run leak!
Libby Nuttall is a women’s personal trainer in the Macedon Ranges. When she’s not hanging with her two sons, husband and Weimaraner (a.k.a; the boys), she is running high intensity fitness classes, volunteering as the President of the local playgroup, or working on her range of online, pre and post natal wellness programs, Miracle Months. Libby had her second son in December 2015 and is loving sharing the journey back to fitness and strength post baby with her social media following. This year she is looking forward to competing in a number of runs and obstacle races.
You can find her at Miracle Months.