The Breastfeeding Runner

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I wanted to write this post because I have ENDLESSLY googled this topic, and I’m convinced that I actually reached the end of the internet. Like, the internet just threw up it’s hands at me and shrugged it’s shoulders. There is not a ton of information out there for people like me, who want to continue their running while not compromising their breastfeeding relationship.

Let me preface this by first saying:
A) I am not a doctor
B) Both of my children took to breastfeeding easily and were gaining weight above average when I began working out postpartum

Now that I’ve said that, so you want to run 30k while full time nursing an infant? Well you’re on your own as far as the interweb, and most likely, your doctor/midwife are concerned. I had a healthy pregnancy and stayed as active as possible before being diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disfunction toward the end (turned out I just had a GIGANTIC baby in there and it went away quickly after birth). So I was totally revved to get back to running and working out normally about 3 weeks postpartum. My midwife gave me the green light, but told me not to go too crazy too soon (she doesn’t know me well apparently)
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So, if you’re like me and you went race sign-up CRAZY while sitting at home pregnant, and you’ve got some crap to train for while single handedly keeping another human alive, here’s some tips I’ve come up with.

SUPER HYDRATE. I cannot stress this enough. You will never be able to take in enough liquid. You just won’t. But give it your best try. Water, coconut water, chocolate milk even. You need to be drinking 8oz every time you nurse, even through the night. This will keep your supply up and also make you a better runner, win-win! Carry water on your runs. Even ones under an hour. I know, you will feel embarrassed. But those other runners don’t know you, so let them hate on.

EAT LOTS. I get it. You want to shed that baby weight. But calorie counters, even the ones for bf-ing moms, will not take into account the calories that a runner is burning. So just eat. Eat good food, and get lots of protein and healthy fats. Your baby needs that healthy fat and I PROMISE, you will not gain weight. Now is not the time to diet. (Moms 6 months pp who are bf-ing babies on solids can reduce calories safely)

BE PREPARED TO GET INJURED– This is the crappy part. Your body is still full of relaxin, the hormone that helped you to give birth to your cute-as-can-be little one. It will stick around until you finish nursing, which means your ligaments will be looser than normal, and in turn, will not support your muscles like they normally would. Secondly, your posture has not quite returned, and most post partum moms have a slight forward tilt to the pelvis, which, while running over time, can cause any number of imbalances. I’ve been through inflammation of both SI joints, and now a stress fractured right foot, all over the course of 5 months. Only you can decide if you love running enough to deal with the downside of being a nursing runner. Maybe you’re not prepared for that, so you cycle for a year- that’s cool too!

LET IT GO– Your body is smart. It’s not going to divert resources from making milk, which is going to keep your baby alive. That’s amazing and it’s the best thing for your child. But, it’s also not going to perform 100% for you while repairing after runs. You will feel like your body is falling apart most of the time. Get used to it. It’s not fun. It will make you question why you run.

Here’s my last bit of advice: unless you’re a pro athlete, treat this year as a fun time to enjoy the social and psychological benefits of running. You’re probably not going to break any records, seeing as you’re sleep deprived, your body is messed up, and you’re missing half your training because, well, you’re a mom. So be grateful for those races and just enjoy being out there.

Are you a nursing runner? Share your experience in the comments!

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