Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, midwife or nurse. The information expressed in the series “Running and Breastfeeding – By JBRobinBog.com” should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before running during postpartum.
The first few weeks of breastfeeding is quite the life changer – even if your husband it amazing and gets up everytime baby cries, that doesn’t actually mean anything when your the only one with the boobs. Its funny but the sleep deprivation becomes second nature after a while.
Breastfeeding has advantages for moms aswell! It may lower a woman’s risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. You can lower your risk of many of these disorders by nursing for at least a year of your life (not necessarily with just one baby). You can lower your risk of having a heart attack or stroke after menopause by 10% if you nurse for at least 1 month.
Breastfeeding and producing breast milk is like baking a cake, you need to follow a recipe and use all the necessary ingredients – Here are a 4 main ingredients that helps me achieve Breastfeeding and Running.
One important thing I learnt from the ICU Nurses was routine in key, and I believe its best and keeps Paul to be the best behaving baby ever, it also emotionally prepares you to know how much sleep you can get in and also what can be done in the time between feeds. It also helps you get to know your baby and his/her ques for hat they need.
In the beginning Paul drank every 3 hours, 20 minutes on each Boob with a diaper change in between the two sides. Paul fell asleep in between boobs and the diaper change helped him wake up again to continue drinking on the other side as well. I made him drink on both sides in the beginning for that long otherwise I found that he didn’t stay full for the whole 3 hours and would wake up or become fussy in between feeds, which intern makes my life difficult. Then he became bigger and we did the same method, feed every 3 hours but for 30 minutes per side – this was long – no jokes! But as he became older he started drinking less and less in time, still every three hours – some days I could stretch him till 4.5hours. I started getting worried, but then I read that babies become stronger and then start drinking more economically if that makes sense, so they spend less time at the boob but get more out as their sucking improves.
Paul now drinks between 10 – 15 minutes one boob only per feeding. During the day I pump out the other side for my milk stash as to not be left lopsided and risk the chance of either getting engorged or producing less milk. The reason I let him drink one side only is because you initially have fore milk and hind milk – the milk in the front is easy to get to when baby latches, its also more watery and more to quench thirst, the hind milk needs to be worked for. Baby has to suck hard to get the more nutrient rich milk out, so if I end up cutting the feeding of one boob into two he will most likely only fill up with fore milk and not get the sufficient nutrition that is needed. It’s also convenient to be able to pump out the other boob in order to build a milk stash for date nights, and other occasion when I can’t be with him – like running events.
But all babies differ – you will have to get to know your baby to see what works for you both. I have friends that do it much different to me and their Babies are perfectly healthy.
In order to go for a 60 minute run I feed Paul and pump out simultaneously for 15minutes. I then get dressed if I’m not already and head out. I like to prep all my gear and pram the night before I go to bed – just to help me get out the door faster. Getting out the house is already a mission, so I try to simplify it as much as possible to prevent getting frustrated.
Breast milk contains, on average, 87% water. The water content in the milk will vary depending on the time of day. During breastfeeding foremilk (the milk obtained at the beginning of breastfeeding) has higher water content and keeps baby hydrated, whereas hindmilk (milk released near the end of breastfeeding) contains two to three times more fat than foremilk . Breast milk is produced using maternal body water, means a significant extra water loss for Mommy in addition to the normal dehydration thanks to everyday tasks including running and exercise. This mean that you have to practically be latched to a water bottle 24/7.
I keep a filled water bottle next to my breastfeeding station and next to my bed, and I drink and refill them constantly – it might seem tedious but its necessary, especially if your exercising as well. Drinking tea and other fluids will also help you stay hydrated. I drink large amounts of ‘Rooibos’ Tea – I guess the direct translation is Redbush tea? Lol not sure what to call it in English but I’m sure everyone knows what I’m talking about.
Bottom line is – you have to practically be latched to a water bottle 24/7.
Exercise creates an increase in body temperature, which is cooled by sweating. Sweating causes water-loss. It is essential to keep yourself hydrated when breastfeeding, otherwise its like baking a cake without one of the main ingredients, its just not gonna work.
So the beginning of my breastfeeding journey I jumped ahead and ate almost anything – drinking coffee again, chocolates, anything I wanted – I was so happy to just be able to eat for me again – but then Paul stared getting tummy cramps and reactions against things I ate – then I realized with a shock that I wont be able to just eat what I want again… this was sad but I’m used to it now at least.
But it is said that you as a nursing mother should be able to eat anything as long as it is in Moderation – have one block of chocolate , not the whole slab or one cup of coffee not 5. You get the idea. I’ve also noticed that Paul reacts to different things, for instance, I cannot eat peas – and I LOVE peas… it gives him this absolute sour burp along with tummy cramps. So you’ll have to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. But all in all its not actually a must to eat a certain diet to improve your milk. Breast milk is designed to be nutrient rich enough and wholesome enough for your baby no matter what the environment conditions. Women in third world countries only breastfeed their babies and some live of basic foods like rice, pap, vegetables and limited meats. Your body is designed to be able to provide to baby in times of famine and need.
This said not adhering to a healthy diet WILL affect the mother – whilst your body will keep providing for baby it will take allot from you to do this – making you feel weak tired and then in turn not really happy and capable to provide otherwise for your baby. To help out with a few extra vitamins it was recommended by my doctor to continue drinking my per-natal vitamins. It is also a good idea to supplement on Calcium and Magnesium as bone density decreases during breastfeeding. The good news is that, like bone lost during pregnancy, bone lost during breastfeeding is usually recovered within 6 months after breastfeeding ends.
If you are running and breastfeeding you are putting you body under pressure to work harder, so to be able to take care of yourself and baby the best to adhere a healthy diet filled with all the basic food groups.
One thing you will hear allot as a new Mom is you have to sleep when baby sleeps. I don’t know about you but every time someone said that to me and then gesturing to the fact that I won’t be able to run because I’ll be too tired, the little rebel in be jumped up saying “ I’ll show you!” . But I’d just smile and nod, because just as it is the same with running pregnant, people will always have a lot to say.
I’ve always felt that people that say they can’t exercise say its because their too tired, or that their day is so long and busy that at the end of it they don’t have the energy to do anything – Well here’s what I say – If you don’t exercise your going to constantly be tired. I know the feeling I also made the excuse many times before, but to be honest the exercise is the best thing you can give your body. Taking a break from sitting in the office the whole day and giving your body a chance to move. The same goes for new mothers. Exercise is mentally good for you it will give you the mental break from baby that you will need after a few days and it will leave you feeling refreshed as apposed to sluggish and tired.
On the other side rest is indeed important for a new mom, breast feeding or not. Rest along with exercise will help you to be less stressed when baby wakes up in the middle of the night or struggles with naps during the day. This will help keep you healthy and strong.
Healthy Mom = Good milk supply
There are other factors that will compromise your milk production like stress and fatigue – so if you can ensure that you get enough rest along with your exercise.
“Sneak in a little nap when he goes for a nap once a day.”
I Try to run early in the Mornings, that way it is done and nothing that happens the rest of the day can interfere with my running plans. I run with a stroller so Paul gets his morning nap in while I run. When we get home we have mid-morning snack with tea, shower and feed (In no particular order – all depends on Paul’s mood) and then we have lunch at 13:00. Paul usually has a nap until 13:30 then we try to tummy time and play time after witch we can have another afternoon nap, and this Nap I usually join in on. I like to push for 2 hours, but I’m not always that lucky.
You will soon figure out a routine that suits you and your babies needs, do what works best for you two. But always remember to listen to your body, eat when hungry, drink when thirsty and sleep when your tired, even if that means skipping a run, sometimes we have to and that’s ok.
“Eat when hungry, drink when thirsty and sleep when your tired.”
Remember your health comes first otherwise there isn’t really a point to all this because you wont be able to care for your baby.
If your currently Pregnant and want to continue running have a look at my ‘Running Pregnant’ Series, click on the links below: