Let’s break the rumor that you can’t or shouldn’t exercise while breastfeeding because it will diminish your milk supply. This flawed information came from the fact that a mother’s milk is high in lactic acid after working out and that the baby won’t take to it. This is partially true, but it only applies to very intense training—meaning, training to your 100% maximum intensity level. Sure, workouts like this can be awesome, but if you’re a nursing mother, all you have to do is take it down a couple of notches from your 100% and you’re good to go!
I was cleared to begin training again six weeks after giving birth, and I know that I wasn’t even able to have a workout that intense right out of the gate—so, really, there’s nothing to worry about. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re a nursing mama that’s ready to get her groove on at the gym:
Listen To Your Body
Once you are cleared to workout, you are welcome to return to running, lifting, cardio, yoga or any workout you love to do. The only exception I would be cautious of is any intense core workouts—if you had Diastasis Recti (separation of the abs during pregnancy), you’ll want to take the extra time to let your Rectus Abdominis come back together after being stretched during pregnancy. Also, if you delivered via cesarean, you’ll want to be extra careful of your incision recovery. Just listen to your body!
Wear The Correct Sports Bra
To make sure you are comfortable during your workout, it’s important you wear the correct sports bra. Try on different brands, sizes and supports. You don’t want to constrict them too much, but you want support.
Pump Or Nurse Right Before Your Workout
This will help a lot with the comfort of your sports bra…and you. It’s hard to even sit around doing nothing while your breasts are engorged with milk, so I highly recommend NOT working out like that.
Drink More Water
Dehydration = diminished milk supply. This applies whether you are working out or not. If you started training and notice a decrease in milk supply, don’t blame it on the workout just yet. Increase your water intake to get back on track!
I know it is tempting to hit the gym the day and hour you are finally cleared to workout again. You want to get back to those awesome workouts you were doing earlier in your pregnancy or before you were pregnant, but take it easy! I had my baby in my arms last week and did 20 squats in my living room while holding her, and I was really sore the next couple of days. Talk about a reality check!
I suggest starting your journey back to fit by baby wearing! Purchase a great carrier (I love my Boba Wrap and Sakura Bloom Baby Sling and start moving! You’re already burning an extra 200-500 more calories each day by breastfeeding alone…you can burn even more (make sure you’re getting enough calories!) just by wearing your little bundle while you run errands, get things done around the house or, even better, do some walking lunges down the hallway! See my fun baby-wearing workout below for some ideas.
Sets & reps can vary, depending on the length of your hallway or how long of a walk you’re going for. J
If you’re at the gym, or want to count sets & reps, I suggest 3-4 sets of 20-30 lunges (10-15 per leg).
Do a standard static lunge forward with the right leg, then take a big step out to the right to lunge again. Complete the semi-circle with a lunge backward and repeat on the other leg.
3-4 sets of 10 reps on each leg (1 semi-circle is one rep).
Stand with your feet parallel and a little wider than shoulder-width. If it helps with balance, you may turn your toes out at an angle for a more sumo squat position. Start by sticking your butt out behind you and keep your chest (and baby) lifted while you squat down, keeping the weight in your heels. Only go as low as you feel comfortable—you do not want to lose your balance during any of these moves!
3-4 sets of 15-20 reps
Simply rise up on your toes, keeping a micro bend in your knees. You can stand on something elevated to allow your heels to drop down a bit further for more range of motion. Try pointing your toes inward and outward, too!
1 set of 10-15 with toes pointed outward
1 set of 10-15 with toes pointed inward
1 set of 10-15 with toes straight
Find a sturdy elevated surface (don’t go too high – keep baby and your balance in mind when choosing a surface) and step up onto the surface with one leg. Step back down and make sure your balance is great before stepping back up again.
3 sets of 10-15 on each leg.