Exercise and indulging in a balanced diet are essential for a healthy lifestyle. The need for both is amplified when breastfeeding. In fact, light exercise can be quite beneficial to breastfeeding moms.
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Other than improving your overall health and well-being, exercise can promote the release of hormones like endorphins (responsible for good mood) and prolactin (improves breast milk production). Healthy workout sessions can also encourage a good night of sleep while helping you lose that pregnancy weight.
As long as you had a routine delivery without complications, you can start working out a few days after delivery. Deliveries through a C-section or an episiotomy will require you to wait until you heal. Before you can hit the gym, listen to your body. If you are feeling sore, have breast infections, or are bleeding heavily, you might have to wait a little longer. Once you decide to exercise, start with light exercises.
Here are some insights to help you make the most of your workout sessions:
Strenuous Exercise Will Affect Breastfeeding
Light exercise routines are recommended when starting out since strenuous exercise could affect the taste of your breast milk. As you involve yourself in strenuous exercise, lactic acid builds up in your body. Once it finds its way into your breast milk, it could make your baby resist breastfeeding. Sweat could also make the milk taste salty.
Sure, there are babies that will be unfazed by the change in milk taste, but this isn’t always the case. Sticking to light exercise ensures that you retain the milk’s taste while also allowing your body enough time to get back to working out. You can also follow these tips to reduce the chances of milk refusal after a workout:
- Breastfeed your kid or pump the milk into a bottle before working out.
- Wash your breasts or take a shower after your workout sessions to remove the accumulated sweat on your skin.
- Allow a period of around 90 minutes between the end of your workout session and breastfeeding your kid. This period will ensure the lactic acid washes away.
- Hand press or pump a little bit of milk out before breastfeeding. You can throw this milk away since it will most likely taste different.
Examples of Safe Light Exercises
When starting your exercise, choose options that will keep you active. You can start with less intensive exercise before ramping up your routine. Limiting your exercise time could also give your body some allowance to get back to normal.
One of the easiest exercises to engage in is going for walks. You can always push your baby’s stroller during these walks. If you are feeling a little bit more energetic, you can go for a jog, with or without your baby. The fact that jogging strollers exist makes jogging with your baby around easy. Swimming also presents a low-impact, whole-body exercise for breastfeeding mothers. Lastly, you can always look for online tutorials that can walk you through working out from home. The idea is to keep yourself active.
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Watch Your Calorie Intake
You lose calories as your body works to create breast milk. In turn, breastfeeding itself could result in you losing between 400 and 500 calories each day, though this value will vary from woman to woman. As a result, lowering your calorie intake when breastfeeding is not ideal.
Your baby needs all the nutrients they can get to grow healthily. Without these extra calories, producing the required amount of healthy milk becomes tough. Your goal should be replacing the lost calories through a proper diet. What’s better is that healthy diets that include whole foods can help you control the baby’s weight while replacing the lost calories.
Timing Is Everything
Your workout schedule should consider your baby’s feeding schedule. If you want to work out quite frequently, then you ought to feed your baby before exercise sessions. Other than this helping preserves the taste of the milk, it is easier to work out with emptier breasts. However, balancing out workout sessions with the feeding schedule can be tough, at times, but not impossible.
Ideally, the type and duration of the workout sessions will dictate how well you can integrate them into your schedule. For instance, while long outdoor runs will require nursing breaks, quick strength training sessions might not affect the schedule. You can choose the time for each according to your baby breastfeeding schedule to ensure minimal interruptions. Don’t beat yourself up if balancing the two doesn’t work out as easily as you might want; you are doing your best.
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It is common for busy mothers to forget to hydrate. If you are dehydrated, your body will struggle to produce enough milk for your baby. Pay attention to your body, and take some water if you feel thirsty. Keeping a bottle of water close could help you remain hydrated. If you are looking for alternatives to regular water, you can use infused water, fresh fruits, and almond milk to remain hydrated.
Your workout goals and breastfeeding can co-exist as long as you use the right strategy. The process could require some planning to ensure a frictionless routine. Be sure to use the insights above to watch your baby grow as you enjoy the perks of working out.
If you have questions about your workout routine as a breastfeeding mother, consulting reputable doctors could help you get the right answers.