After each of my babies was born, one of my biggest dilemmas has been 'How can I make enough milk for my hungry baby while I get my fitness (and body) back?’ I know I’m not alone – a friend recently disclosed to me that she gave up breastfeeding at five months because her doctor had told her she needed to quit if she wanted to exercise! What rubbish.
A girl’s gotta eat
When you’re pregnant, you aren’t actually eating for two (although I personally found refuge in this wondrous myth a few times). Once you start breastfeeding, you are going to be an eating machine. And guess what? It’s all good! Your body is officially working overtime to make milk and keep all regular functions going, so now is your legitimate chance to eat a little extra. This is especially true for women who work out. The added calories will give your body the chance to keep producing milk. I’ve found some great snacks throughout the day will boost your milk and keep you feeling solid through your workout. A few suggestions for a milk boost; flaxseed crackers, coconut water, a few protein balls or a slice of seed bread with avocado and egg if you roll like that. Whatever you do, don’t diet, make the milk.
Does it need to hurt to feel good?
A hardcore mama I know was excruciatingly disappointed when she realized her high-intensity interval training workouts were leaving her completely wiped out, lowering her milk and just generally not working. Sure you’ve spent those past nine months dreaming of the day you’d smash those burpees again, just like that fantasy of a glass of wine and a plate of sashimi (remember that one?). But the fact is the intensity of your workout can make all the difference. Do you really need to destroy yourself to feel that healthy hit of endorphins? No. Try something new – a dance class or something like an RPM™ indoor cycling class will get your heart rate going, burn calories and leave you feeling fantastic and (possibly) ready for another night of no sleep. Don’t worry, you’ll be back to smashing your PBs in no time, just give it a while.
Exhaustion is the swing-vote
If you did just pull an all-nighter, you know what won’t help? Sprints. You know what will help, some yoga and a walk with the pushchair. I know you want your body back, you want to feel like you again. But give yourself a break – did you see what you just did? You’ve earned a bit of rest and recovery. And remember, if you’re up at 2 a.m., count it as three sets of squats (which it probably was if you were doing the Thai Bounce).
Clichés are the best
So here’s the message you’ve heard a million times already but I know I need to reiterate because it really is true… listen to your body! No two women are going to recover or produce milk the same. Do what you got to do to get through this tough time, and work out as much as you can without sacrificing your and your baby’s health and sanity. I know you want to throw yourself back into it 100%. Trust me, I’ve been there. But the hard truth is that those nine months were just the beginning of your sacrifice. Right now, your body still belongs to your baby, not your gym membership. You’re not in training, you don’t need to be a size two immediately. Know that you’re doing best by your baby (and the bizarre, magical process we call motherhood) if you just take it a little easy, and train a little spontaneously, while your baby is still that – a baby. If you want to breastfeed, just know that you can make it work alongside exercise. Just be a little more intuitive about it – you can do that right? I mean, you are a mom now.
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