Personal trainers Renee Norman and Jenna Smith of Real Health NZ share their tips for getting back into exercise while breastfeeding.
As we write this blog we are hitting our 27th and 28th week of pregnancy with our number 2 babies on the way! Post our first babies we were both so excited to get back into exercise. We couldn't wait to do a full burpee, a press up and regain our pre-pregnancy fitness!
Like so many new mums we struggled in the first wee while to find our feet and to be completely honest, exercise was our little 'time out'. A little time for us that helped us to reset, feel amazing and manage all those newborn challenges just that little bit better.
Whilst getting back into exercise was important to us, breastfeeding our little girls for as long as possible was our number one priority. In this blog we’re chatting all things breastfeeding and exercise, we hope you find it helpful.
Breastfeeding and milk supply
Lots of women are worried about exercising whilst feeding because they are not too sure how it might affect their milk supply. Research shows that moderate exercise shouldn’t affect milk supply, however, some find it can take a little while for their body to adjust.
We suggest not rushing back and taking it slowly when you feel ready to get moving again. Do your best to wait out 6 weeks, get clearance from your midwife or GP, and then take it one step at a time. Ensure that your milk supply is fully established before adding exercise to your daily routine.
When you do get back into things be sure to listen to your body and get in tune with your milk supply. If you go too hard too soon and put your body under too much physical stress it could affect your supply so in our opinion it’s slow and steady that wins the race! You can slowly increase the intensity and duration of your exercise regime as your body and your milk supply adjust.
Nutrition, exercise & breastfeeding
Nutrition should be a priority for all breastfeeding mums but even more so for those that are wanting to include regular exercise. Whilst there is no single answer to how many calories a breastfeeding mum needs to be consuming (we are all so different!) most breastfeeding mums need to be consuming anywhere from 1,800 - 2,500 calories per day and staying well hydrated. If you’re not eating or drinking enough water whilst breastfeeding, adding exercise into the mix could affect your milk supply.
We always say rather than counting calories follow your hunger as a guide. Be sure to have 3 quality meals per day and make sure you’re consuming all 3 macronutrients; quality carbohydrates, quality proteins and good fats. Additional to your 3 meals make sure you’re having healthy snacks throughout the day.
When it comes to nutrition during pregnancy and lactation there are three basic principles to follow that will ensure your diet is nutritionally sound: variety, wholesomeness and unprocessed.
When it comes to variety, foods should be selected from a wide range of sources each day. By consuming a diet with lots of variety it’s highly likely you’ll be provided with ample amounts of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Wholesomeness simply means foods that are made from whole ingredients and remain as similar to its original state as possible. This includes food like fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats such as chicken, red meat, healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, fish, avocado, nuts and seeds and quality dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Finally when we talk about unprocessed this simply means staying away from junk food! As a general rule the less processed a food is the greater its nutrient content. Staying away from packet foods where possible is the best way to do this.
Get a good sports bra!
If you think your boobs changed lots during pregnancy, it’s nothing compared to the changes you may experience during breastfeeding! Your breasts change significantly and we totally recommend investing in a good quality sports bra.
Investing in one (or two) that have adjustable straps is a good idea so you can accommodate the changing size of your breasts throughout your breastfeeding journey. It’s also great to have sports bras with clips to allow for feeding and pumping when required.
Don’t go too hard too soon!
Now this tip has a little less to do with breastfeeding and more about managing your expectations about exercise postpartum. We encourage you to be kind to yourself and your body as you start to build exercise into your life as a new mum and don’t expect to jump back into your pre-pregnancy routine straight away.
Ease back into exercise slowly, pay close attention to how your body feels and acknowledge that it will take time to work up to your pre pregnancy fitness.
Don’t forget the amazing journey that your body has just been on; you just grew a baby, birthed a baby and now you’re feeding your baby! AMAZING! It’s only natural that things will take time, just know that no matter how out of breath or shape you might feel that you are setting a wonderful example for your new baby!
If you haven’t seen it yet we have just launched our brand new Online Pregnancy Programme! This programme is totally online and over 5 modules we’ll show you how to move safely during pregnancy, nourish your body correctly and get back into things once your baby arrives!
Learn more about Real Health NZ, our qualifications in this space and our new Pregnancy Programme.