It’s that time of year again—time when many of us resolve to lose weight and exercise more. Taking care of yourself is even more important now that you have become a mother. But how is it possible to make time for YOU when you have a baby to care for? Is it possible to exercise regularly and meet the needs of your baby? What about breastfeeding? Is it ok to exercise while breastfeeding? Yes, yes and yes!
It IS safe to exercise when you are breastfeeding (although I don’t recommend doing the 2 activities simultaneously!) It’s normal to want to move your body again after the initial postpartum period of healing. Even so, many of my clients are concerned about lactic acid build up affecting their milk. Very strenous exercise does create lactic acid, but it does not make the milk “bad” or significantly alter the taste of the milk. It’s probably not a good idea to start training for a marathon 4 weeks after giving birth, but moderate exercise is safe and healthy.
Ok. So now you know it’s safe for you to exercise and breastfeed. Now what? How do you find the time? The answer is to include baby in your workout! Here are some suggestions from real moms in the trenches:
“Bundle up your baby and yourself and go for a walk. Invest in a comfy stroller, or better yet a sling or front pack so you can wear your baby. (He’ll be happier as well as warmer!) Start slowly but try to get out and do something every day.”
“Grab a friend or your partner, bundle up and go snowshoeing!”
“Mom and baby yoga class.”
“Make a weekly walk date with the mothers you met in your childbirth class or prenatal exercise class. A commitment to someone else will keep you going.”
“I wear my husband’s coat and zip it up around my baby while wearing her in a sling. I can still see the top of her head (and her airway) and I know she is cozy.”
Swimming class is fun for baby and a surprising amount of exercise for mom!
“Put on some great music and dance while holding your baby. You will both enjoy it.”
“I do a bootcamp I made up. I jog to the park with the baby and a yoga mat in the jogging stroller and do planks, sit-ups, pushups, etc. in circuits (jogging between sets around the park) then jog home. My baby loves watching mama exercise.”
“During play, I’ll lift my baby like a dead lift and/or lay his body along my legs, and while holding his arms, lift my legs so he will go from a vertical to horizontal position. Dancing in front of him is always a winner—I may have no rhythm but he thinks I’m the best!”
“I started doing stairs holding my 6 month old baby in my arms. He thinks it’s hysterical!”
“I do Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30. It’s short but intense. I can even get my 3 year old to do it sometimes while the baby crawls around. Or we have dance parties a lot.”
“Whatever you do, make sure you have a really supportive bra (or you can wear 2 at a time) to protect the ligaments in your extra-heavy breasts.”
The important thing is to do move your body doing an activity you enjoy. If you can be outside, even better. Natural light—even in the winter –will do wonders for your mood and your overall health.
Note of caution: Before you begin any exercise program, be sure to check with your health care provider.