Creating a healthier, happier you.
SAVE YOUR MILK SUPPLY WHILE WORKING OUT
Congratulations! You've had your baby and have decided to nurse. You're past your 6 weeks and ready to start feeling like yourself again. You have heard stories about well-intentioned women getting back to the gym with gusto and losing their milk supply so you're worried about taking care of your own body and your baby at the same time. You have enough to worry about right now, don't let this be something that keeps you from moving forward to feel your best physically and mentally!
Here are 5 tips to help you feel confident in keeping your milk supply while working out and breastfeeding:
1. IT'S COMPLETELY SAFE AND ENCOURAGED TO WORKOUT WHILE BREASTFEEDING.
Once you are past your 6 weeks and cleared by your doctor, working out has so many amazing benefits and you will feel better physically and mentally when you get a good sweat in. And when you feel better for you, you’re able to show up better for your baby.
Working out has so many benefits! To name a few...
- Increase in energy
- Improved quality of sleep
- Helps to regulate your hormones
- Produces dopamine and endorphins that improve mood
- Helps to lose excess weight
- Increase in muscle to support posture and metabolism
Related: How to Prevent Slouched Posture While Nursing
2. BACK TO BASICS: BEFORE YOU START WORKING OUT.
Before you get started there are a few things to consider so you have the most enjoyable experience possible.
- Check with your doctor before you start any workout regime and make sure you are cleared. Safety first!
- Wear a supportive bra that fits comfortably. If a bra is too tight, you can develop mastitis or clogged milk ducts.
- Try pumping before you workout so your breasts aren’t full and put added pressure or stress on your back and breast tissue.
- Make sure you are doing a proper warm up. You have still have extra progesterone while nursing that will make your ligaments loose so go slow and listen to your body.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and keep your water bottle with you throughout your workout. You’ll need even more water than usual to keep your milk supply up.
- Start slow and shoot for a few short workouts a week as you get comfortable working out again. It’s hard to be patient and give your body the time it needs but I promise it’s worth it. After 2 weeks you begin breathing exercises and at 4-6 weeks you can start pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles before your start other exercises. NO running or jumping for 6 weeks!
3. WORKING OUT DOESN'T RUIN YOUR MILK.
Some women are nervous that their milk production, taste or composition will change if they start working out. Your milk composition should stay the same as long as you are eating enough healthy fats and calories to sustain your milk supply. If you are doing moderate workouts your milk supply, composition, and production will not be affected.
Ifs to be aware of:
- If you decide to do more intense or strenuous workouts you do have a risk of causing lactic acid to build up that can give your usually sweet tasting milk a bitter taste.
- If you aren’t eating enough calories and you are doing strenuous workouts you can also see a dip in your milk production.
- If you are working out and then coming home to nurse your baby, your salty sweat might make them not want to breastfeed. Simply rinse off or splash some water to your breasts to help your baby latch.
4. MAKING SURE YOUR FOOD IS FUELING YOU AND YOUR BABY.
In all of your efforts to sustain your milk supply, remember that your nutrition is just as important as your baby's! The main thing to consider is calories. If you are not eating enough calories and performing strenuous activities, you can see a dip in your milk supply.
Eating whole foods is great for you and your baby and some foods that have been shown to help increase your milk supply are
- Whole greens
- Green leafy vegetables
- Flax seeds
- Healthy fats like almonds and avocado
- Coconut Oil
As long as you are eating to fuel your body properly you will see you can easily maintain your milk supply while working on your goals to get in shape and feel amazing.
My rule of thumb when training clients is to have them eat 500 calories above maintenance while breastfeeding. This will ensure they can still see results and provide their baby with all the nutrients they need. If you need help calculating your specific macronutrient numbers for your body and diet history my team and I would love to help with a customized macro count. We also offer 7 day meal plans for regular, gluten free, dairy free, or vegetarian preferences if you want a little more guidance while you practice fitting in all the good foods!
5. HOW TO SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS.
One of the most important aspects to starting your workout routine and setting goals to get in shape is to have realistic goals postpartum. The hardest part will be finding the time and energy to get moving, it’s normal and it doesn’t mean you’re lazy. Adding a new baby to your family is a big adjustment!
Make sure you give yourself plenty of grace during this time. Your body needs to heal and recover before you put stress on it. Sleep is important and if you aren’t getting enough sleep you will produce more cortisol that will store more fat. Do your best to get as much sleep as you can, it’s difficult with a newborn. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and it’s okay to sleep when you need to!
Related: To the New Mom
Remember, there is always a time and a season for everything. This postpartum season of life is full of adjustments so don’t go too hard on yourself. Be in the moment and recognize what a special time it is for you and your baby. Make sure you adjust your expectations to the season of life you are in. It probably won't be realistic for you to go to the gym 6 days a week for an hour with a newborn. Set yourself up for success by setting small realistic goals you know you can keep. This will build confidence and help you to continue to be consistent.
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 too hard. If you find yourself suffering from postpartum depression, seek help with your doctor or a trusted advocate.
You are a rockstar Mama! 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 are interested in safe, specialized training for new mothers, visit our programs page. Bree and her team of trainers are certified in postpartum fitness and coach you through staying safe and effective in repairing your body and returning to your regular movement, nutrition, and mindset after birth. The BodyByBree Postpartum program helps you repair ab separation and makes sure to support your milk supply as you get back to a more active lifestyle.
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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