Many mothers are concerned that their milk supply will decrease when they start working out again after pregnancy. The good news is that this is actually not true!
In fact working out postpartum and while breastfeeding has several benefits including: decrease in postpartum depression, increased strength and healing from effects of pregnancy and giving birth, improved insulin response, and an overall increase in confidence for the mother.
I worked out while breastfeeding with both of my babies and did not see any effect on my milk supply or on my child accepting my milk after a workout (lactic acid levels increase a little after working out, but studies show there is no effect on the baby).
Here are some tips from my own experience on how you can be successful at working out and breastfeeding:
Empty before you exercise
Breastfeed or pump before you exercise. If you workout when full it will be uncomfortable and heavy. Also, when you exercise there is a lot of friction, especially in the armpit area. Emptying both breasts before working out will help decrease your chances of getting a blocked duct which leads to mastitis.
Support, support, support
When I started working out again after having my babies, I had to go buy a couple new sports bras. I had to go up a size because I was thicker but my boobs were also bigger because I was breastfeeding. Make sure you get one that has extra support and is the right fit. You don’t want it to be too tight or too loose.
My favorite sports bras are the ones made for runners. They offer a lot of support in the right places without being too tight. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Some women still leak even months after starting to breastfeed. If this is you, either wear a padded sports bra or wear nursing pads. This will protect you from leaking through your sports bra and your shirt!
Get enough calories
I worked with a trainer after my son was born and one thing I learned that has changed my opinion on “dieting” is that you have to put calories in your body to see results. All of these super low calorie, starvation fad diets are only a short term solution to weight loss.
While breastfeeding your are providing important nutrients to your baby so you need to make sure that you are a) eating enough calories and b) eating the right calories.
Not all calories are created equal. Let’s say you eat a 300 calorie donut for breakfast and I eat two eggs which equal 300 calories. Who do you think is going to get the greatest benefit? I think the answer is pretty obvious.
If you eat the donut, you can guarantee that this will not help your energy levels and it will not provide any added benefit to your baby or to your workout results.
The eggs however are packed with protein which give you energy, keep you full longer and provide Folic Acid and vitamins to your breastfed baby.
Weight loss, toning up and eating healthy go hand in hand but seeing results long term is 90% what you eat and 10% working out. What you put in your body is so important, so choose wisely.
Make sure to eat at least 1500 – 2,000 calories per day while breastfeeding and working out and choose from foods that are high in protein and good carbs. You can see my post on breastfeeding superfoods here or see my diagram to help you get an idea of what foods you should be looking for.
Drink a lot of water
I always noticed a dip in my milk supply when I wasn’t drinking enough water but especially while working out.
When you sweat, you lose a lot of water. In order to replenish this loss, make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout.
Caffeine is ok to drink, just make sure it doesn’t replace any of your daily water intake.
Decaffeinated teas are also ok just make sure you aren’t adding sugar or other sweeteners that will take away from your better calorie options. Mothers Milk tea is actually a lactogenic tea that is great to drink while breastfeeding. Read more about it in this post.
As soon as your doctor tells you it is ok to workout after delivery, don’t let breastfeeding stand in the way of you achieving your goals!