Thursday, 22 October 2015

Five tips for active, breastfeeding moms

Five tips for active, breastfeeding moms
By Leah Cadieux, RLC, IBCLC, B.A.

Having a new baby is a time that often involves a steep learning curve! So many things have changed in your life and yet some things are still the same. Many new moms wonder about fitness and exercising while breastfeeding. Is there anything mom’s need to know, look out for, can’t do? What has changed and what hasn’t?

What hasn’t changed?
1. Go for it! 
Despite what your neighbour, or grandma or someone on Facebook might tell you, breastfeeding and exercising are completely compatible!  There is absolutely no truth to exercise harming milk supply or contributing to baby refusing the breast. While there is a time of recovery and healing after birth and some time needed to get to know your baby and establish breastfeeding, unless a woman has medical contraindications you can start with gentle walks as soon as you feel up to it.  Once a mom is recovered and healed from birth (usually around six weeks, talk to your health care provider) you can start back at your normal physical activities. 
2. Exercise is so good for you!
Being active is still good for you and holds all the same benefits as before you were a parent or during your pregnancy including (among many others) lower rates of cardiovascular disease, improved stamina, better longevity  and promoting higher quality sleep. It also includes some important post-baby specific benefits such as lower rates of post-partum mood disorders (which include post partum depression, post partum obsessive compulsive disorder, and post partum anxiety disorder), a positive sense of wellbeing and increased mother-baby bonding. Being physically active helps your physical wellbeing but also your mental and emotional health and wellbeing which can be especially important for new moms! 
3. Be proud of yourself!
A healthy mom is a benefit to herself, her baby, her partner and everyone in her community. Without question both breastfeeding and being physically active takes planning, work and dedication! Making and meeting an exercise or breastfeeding goal is something that mother’s should celebrate!

What has changed?
4. Your body
Your body has done the amazing task of growing and now feeding another human being! You may need to pay more attention to workout gear, especially getting a properly fitted and supportive exercise bra. Some women need to wear more than one to get proper support while exercising. Be aware that wearing a bra that blocks milk duct flow for too long can lead to plugged ducts so depending on how the bra fits you may want to change to your normal nursing bra once done exercising. 
5. Be flexible and gentle on yourself as you grow into active life as a new mom
Sometimes workouts get interrupted for feedings or a crying baby or an activity is postponed due to sickness or fatigue. That is okay! Be gentle on yourself and your baby as you get used to each other. Try again when everyone is happy and content.  
Also, for many mom’s fitness levels have changed during pregnancy and the immediate postpartum and it takes a while to get back to ‘where we were’. Try and find an activity that fits your fitness level/goals and your baby’s personalities and age/development. 
Babies need to eat often, especially in the early months so keep that in mind as you plan workouts. There are so many choices to feed baby on cue and be active. There are excellent exercise classes you can do with babies in tow, you can feed baby before you start an activity or you can provide breastmilk for whoever is watching your baby while you are out.

About the Author, Leah Cadieux
I am a Registered Lactation Consultant (RLC, IBCLC, B.A.) working in private practice in Edmonton and surrounding area. My passion is to support parents to reach their breastfeeding goals, prenatally or during any part of the post-partum period. Partnering with parents, I take the time to listen fully to your journey and provide education, information and support for your unique parent-child relationship.  Aside from being a RLC, IBCLC, I am a recipient of the MILLC scholarship and hold a B.A. in psychology, focusing in early childhood development. I am a wife and mother of three amazing kiddos, runner, triathlete, yogi, reader and traveler. I can be reached at and  780-299-9354                                                    

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