Creating a healthier, happier you.
7 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BREASTFEEDING AND WORKING OUT
I get it, mama. You just had your baby, and you're ready to get back in shape and feel like yourself again. I’ve been there, and I understand the need to move your body and get your endorphin rush. The beautiful thing is that working out can be so beneficial as you're breastfeeding and recovering from delivery, but it’s important that it’s done correctly. Stick with me and you'll learn if it's okay and safe to work out while breastfeeding, if your milk supply and composition will change, how to properly fuel your body, and why it’s important to set realistic expectations and goals!
First, you have to know that it's completely safe and encouraged to work out while breastfeeding. Working out has so many amazing benefits, and you'll feel better when you get a good sweat in. When you start moving your body in that postpartum season, you're going to have an increase in energy and you're going to sleep better.
It also helps to regulate your hormones, and when you work out, it produces dopamine and endorphins, so your mood improves, which we all need after we have a baby, right? You may even start to lose excess weight, your muscle mass will increase, and your posture and metabolism will start to improve.
There are just SO many advantages to working out postpartum, and I'm excited to help you feel prepared and safe to do so. So before you start, there are seven things that you want to consider so that you have the most enjoyable experience possible.
1. CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
You always want to check with your doctor before you start any workout regimen, and just make sure that you're cleared. Make sure your pelvic floor is strengthened and that you're good to go because if not, working out can cause more harm than good. I know you’re aching to get back into a routine and to find some sense of normalcy again, but do your best to embrace the changes in your body and your new life, and take things slow. As soon as your doc says you’re ready, you can get started!
A great place to start is my Postpartum Core Repair Guide. It's FREE!
2. A SUPPORTIVE BRA MAKES A DIFFERENCE
You may think you can just pull your past workout bras out of the closet and toss them on for your first postpartum workout, but you may find that it doesn’t fit the same, feels too tight, or can’t give your chest the support it needs. You’ll need to wear a supportive bra that fits comfortably 'cause if it's too tight and you’re currently nursing, you can develop mastitis or clogged milk ducts. If it’s not supportive enough, it may cause unnecessary strain as you move around, so it's best to find one that fits well but isn’t restrictive.
One brand I highly recommend is Love & Fit. They are great quality and give you the support and style! You can use the code BREE10 for 10% off your order.
PRO-TIP: You can also try pumping before you work out so that your breasts aren't super full and adding pressure or stress on your back and your breast tissue.
3. START SLOW
So you’re all pumped up and ready to work out, which I love, but you don’t need to jump into five workouts a week right away, and they definitely don’t have to be long. Short and sweet is the name of the game, so just start slow and shoot for a few short workouts a week as you get comfortable working out again.
Whatever you do is great! Let your body adjust to this change in your routine, and remember that pushing yourself can cause injury if you’re not careful.
PRO-TIP: Don’t forget to do a proper warmup. You have an increase in hormones that will actually loosen your ligaments, so take things slow, feel it out, and adapt based on what feels good and what doesn’t.
4. WATER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
Sometimes when you're sleep deprived, you’ll feel a little lightheaded, so if you’re going to start moving your body again, your water intake needs to increase. Water is your best friend! Make sure you’re drinking enough throughout the day, especially because it can help with lactic acid buildup.
Some women are nervous that their milk production or the taste or composition will change if they start exercising, but the good news is that if you're doing moderate workouts, your milk supply and your milk composition should stay the same and your production will not be affected.
If you decide to do more intense or strenuous workouts, you risk causing lactic acid to build up which can change your usual sweet-tasting milk go change into more of a bitter taste, but drinking water can help you avoid that shift!
5. EAT ENOUGH CALORIES
If you aren't eating enough calories and you're doing strenuous workouts, you might see a dip in your milk production, so you want to make sure you're eating enough each day. My postpartum program includes the macro count, the meal plan, and then the support that you need while nursing, so you can make sure that you're eating enough and you're eating balanced macros to help you and your baby feel amazing.
My rule of thumb when training clients is usually to have them eat 500 calories above your caloric goal while breastfeeding. This will ensure that they can still see results and then also provide their baby with all the nutrients they need. If you need help calculating your postpartum specific macro numbers for your body, my team and I can help with a customized macro count.
Here are some foods that have been shown to increase your milk supply:
- Whole greens
- Green leafy vegetables
- Flax seeds
- Healthy fats like almonds and avocado
PRO-TIP: If you're working out and then you come home to nurse your baby, and your little one just doesn’t want to latch, it might be because of your salty sweat! It’s not an issue for every mama because some babies don’t even mind. But I have had friends where their baby wouldn’t latch, and all they had to do was rinse off their breasts quickly!
6. SET REALISTIC GOALS
One of the most important aspects of starting your workout routine and setting goals to get in shape is to have realistic goals postpartum. This is the hardest part for a lot of postpartum moms, and this was actually the hardest part for me as well. When I was postpartum with my third child, Mila, I went way too hard, and I had super unrealistic expectations of my postpartum journey. It set me up for failure because I was never living up to what I thought I should be doing.
I want you to remember that adding a new baby to your family is a big adjustment. Make sure to give yourself plenty of grace during this time. Your body needs time to heal and recover before you put stress on it, and this is something that a lot of fitness coaches won't tell you. Sleep is important, and if you are not getting enough sleep, that will produce more cortisol which will produce more fat.
PRO-TIP: There is always a time and a season for everything, and it probably won't be realistic for you to go to the gym six days a week for an hour with a newborn, right? Set yourself up for success by setting small realistic goals that you know you can keep, and this will build confidence and help you continue to be consistent.
7. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
As always, listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right to you, stop. You know your body best, and it might need more time to heal. You don't have to push super hard at the beginning. It's better to take your time! And please, please, please stop or ask for help if something starts feeling painful. There will be a little discomfort as you start exercising again, but radical pain means that you probably need to step back and wait a bit longer before upping your reps, weights, etc.
Birthing a baby is not an easy journey, and I'm here to help you feel confident and strong every step of the way. If you're in the postpartum phase and feeling like you want accountability and someone to tell you exactly what to do to make sure that you're safe and get results, I'm here to help! My BodyByBree postpartum program is the perfect resource to help you care for your body in this new season and become the healthiest and happiest version of yourself. We’d love to have you!
I'm a mom of 4 and have been a certified personal trainer with specialties in pre- and postnatal fitness for 13 years. I'm also a certified nutrition specialist and certified meditation and mindfulness coach.
I am passionate about helping women change their lifestyles to be the healthiest, happiest versions of themselves and I've seen it happen for thousands of women.
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