Myth Busting - Breast Feeding & Exercise
One of my big memories from breastfeeding my son is how I fitted it into training.
Notoriously, triathlon training starts early, especially in the summer! I used to have to get up at least 30 minutes earlier than my real get up time so I could express milk, so this might mean a 3.30am or 4am start! Not sure I’d have the same commitment these days! I wanted to breastfeed but I still wanted to train, because that’s what made me feel like me, so I made it work.
Let’s talk about some of the myths around breastfeeding while exercising.
It’ll reduce your supply
This is rarely the case. Most women will find their milk supply is unaffected by moderate exercise. If the exercise becomes very intense in frequency, length or exertion then these ladies may start to notice a difference, but generally this is referring to women who are training hard to a competitive level. Obviously it is imperative that you drink well throughout your exercising and then continue to hydrate and refuel after you’ve finished your session. Breastfeeding is not a time to start thinking about losing weight so you need to consider the extra calories you’ve burnt while training plus adding on around 400 a day if exclusively feeding your baby too. Exercise should be about you time, gaining a little control back over your body, but not fitting into your smallest jeans.
It will hurt your breasts
Not if you express or feed beforehand ensuring your breasts are ‘empty’ before commencing exercise. I always advise wearing two sports bras to add that extra support. Good coaches will ensure you’re not doing repetitive exercises that cause you to brush against your breasts causing them to be stimulated and possibly start leaking or hurting. Obviously laying flat on the floor could also be quite uncomfortable, especially towards the end of a session after they’ve had time to ‘refill‘. You may also want to avoid repetitive jumping or running but hopefully a good bra should prevent any discomfort. Like when you are pregnant you still have the hormone relaxin in your system while you are breastfeeding. This basically makes your body a bit more flexible than normal but also more prone to injury as your joints aren’t as stable. You should ensure your trainer knows you are breastfeeding so they can monitor your movements and not allow you to do anything that could potentially cause you injury.
It’ll change the taste of my milk
Again, this can happen, but only in the more extreme cases of high performing athletes. For example where a woman has been training to such a high extent that she has build up of lactic acid which changes the taste of her milk. Training to a moderate level should have no impact at all on the taste of your milk.
Breastfeeding can be such a journey, don’t let exercise be the thing to make it end.
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