Exercise the right way and it won't adversely affect your breastfeeding. My online postnatal fitness and wellbeing programme is perfectly balanced and designed to be compatible with breastfeeding.
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Breastfeeding babies versus formula feeding is an on-going and fraught debate played out in the media, with mums pitted against other mums. There seem to be equally virulent views expressed in an unpleasantly accusatory manner on all sides. I don’t plan to wade into the debate – not here anyway! – and whilst you’ll find plenty of really useful information on the web about how to breastfeed, problems with breastfeeding, positions to adopt when breastfeeding, eating for breastfeeding, and so on, I want to offer you a very different perspective here: a spotlight on exercise and breastfeeding. But before I launch into the whole question of exercising when breastfeeding, I’d love to offer you a FREE copy of my Trouble-Shooting Guide to Breastfeeding written by Rochelle Foster, one of the mums who did my classes and who is also a qualified breastfeeding peer supporter.
Download your FREE guide from the top right hand corner
Based on studies done to date, the view is that moderate post natal exercise, alongside adequate hydration, does not affect milk production. It has been suggested that maximal intensity exercise may affect a baby’s acceptance of post-workout milk. In short, if you are breastfeeding, stick to exercise of a moderate intensity and be sure to drink plenty. You can gauge whether or not you are drinking enough by checking the colour of your urine – it should be pale.
The combination of a healthy balanced diet, moderate exercise and breastfeeding – which uses approximately 500kcal a day in the early stages – will promote the use of maternal fat stores, thus helping you lose weight. This does NOT mean that you should go on a restrictive diet and launch into an intensive exercise programme. Moderation is all and remember this (and this is valid for absolutely everyone): whatever you do it has to be sustainable, a way of life that can be easily and pleasurably maintained. Otherwise it’s… how can I put it? ... doomed to fail!
When breastfeeding, the food you eat needs to be rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids because if your milk doesn’t contain enough of these nutrients, your own stores will become depleted. Calcium is a case in point, and whilst breastfeeding you will need an extra 550mg a day from foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, dried figs, almonds and tinned sardines.
It is also important to incorporate weight-bearing exercise into your daily life, as this has been shown to protect bone density during breastfeeding. Low impact, weight-bearing resistance work which is designed for the postnatal period is ideal. For example postnatal exercise such as a combination of a specialist buggy fitness class and my online postnatal Pilates programme would be perfect.
I’ve included this section because mums who do my Leicestershire-based classes are forever complaining that they can’t find nursing sports bras. I’ve finally found a company which has quite an extensive range of nursing sports bras and it has a fantastic name – BoobieMilk – so I felt compelled to let you know! You’ll find them on www.boobiemilk.co.uk. A well-fitted, comfortable, nursing sports bra is an essential piece of kit as many standard sports bras are designed to squash and harness (!) the breasts which could lead to mastitis when you are breastfeeding.
Many of you will find that lactation causes your breasts to increase significantly in size. This extra weight can pull on your upper back leading to postural changes, a build-up of tension in the neck and upper back, and even back pain. Couple this with incorrect feeding positions and all the lifting, carrying, bending and twisting that you now have to do as a new mum, and it is a recipe for back trouble. Try to focus on maintaining tall posture when sitting, standing, walking, feeding, exercising and generally going about your daily life:
Try and make excellent posture an integral part of your daily life. It is one of the cornerstones of regaining your fitness, it is key to working your pelvic floor correctly, it is essential when it comes to working your deep abdominals and flattening your mummy tummy, it will protect you against back pain and, finally, it will make you look and feel taller and more slender.
For obvious reasons relating to comfort, there are quite a few exercises which are best avoided when breastfeeding, especially if you have gone up quite a few bra sizes:
So if you want to get fit and healthy the right way without affecting your milk production, then you've come to the right place!
Try my online postnatal fitness programme for FREE!