July 05, 2023 4 min read
Holding your newborn for the first time is an incredibly beautiful experience.
And then starts the challenging but gratifying journey of breastfeeding. As you navigate new motherhood, the desire to return back to an exercise routine can be tricky.
Sometimes, it might seem impossible to find the time to get into an exercise routine. Or, you might find that you are too tired to exercise or simply lack motivation. And in case you are motivated enough to exercise and also find the time for it, you might find yourself wondering where to start as a new, breastfeeding mum.
Mummy Jaclyn wearing Ellie Cruz Nursing Cami.
If you're a new mum seeking to recapture your fitness groove post-breastfeeding, this blog is here to guide you.
Every journey is unique. There is no rush, listen to your body, and proceed at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
Making the Decision to Exercise
Getting back to exercise after starting breastfeeding is a personal decision. Numerous health benefits come from regular exercise, including increased energy levels, improved mood, and enhanced overall health.
According to HealthXchange, the physical changes of pregnancy can last for about six weeks after delivery. So, you should start exercising gradually. An exercise routine of light to moderate exercises three times a week with each session lasting up to 30 minutes is a good way to start.
However, jumping back into your pre-pregnancy fitness regimen might seem daunting, so it's important to approach it sensibly and empathetically.
So here are some Dos and Don’ts for getting back to exercise as a breastfeeding mum.
1. Consult with Your Doctor
Before you lace up your running shoes, it's important to consult with your doctor. Every woman's body recovers differently postpartum, and your doctor can provide personalized advice on when and how to resume exercising.
2. Ensure Proper Hydration
When breastfeeding, your body's water requirement increases significantly. Regular exercising will raise this requirement even further. Do make sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workout to stay properly hydrated.
3. Wear Supportive Clothing
Mère Inspo Holly Ngiam wearing Dorset Active Nursing Bra.
Invest in a good quality, high-support active nursing bra. During breastfeeding, breasts can become heavier. Thus, you might face some discomfort during physical activity. A supportive sports nursing bra will help in reducing discomfort and supporting your changing body.
4. Breastfeed Before Exercise
When you’re breastfeeding, it can become uncomfortable to exercise when the breasts are full. Choose to either feed the baby or pump before you exercise. Breastfeeding before the exercise will also ensure that you will be able to dedicate time to exercise without having to rush back to feed a hungry baby.
5. Set Realistic Exercise Goals
Once you get a green signal from your doctor, aim for realistic exercise goals that don’t exert you. You can try simple exercises at home or go for walks. Start with light exercises such as postnatal yoga or gentle stretching, and gradually increase your workout intensity as your body adapts.
1. Neglect Your Calories
Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day, and exercise will increase your calorie burn even further. So, it’s best to have a nutrient-dense diet to give your body the energy it needs. Balanced meals with lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats are the best choice.
2. Rush into Rigorous Exercises
It can be tempting to dive into strenuous workouts to reclaim your pre-pregnancy fitness levels. However, high-impact exercises could potentially strain your joints and muscles, which likely softened during pregnancy to prepare for childbirth.
3. Ignore Your Body's Signals
Watch for signs of exhaustion, excessive soreness, or any pain, and adjust your exercise accordingly. If you ever feel tired or unwell during a workout, please stop and rest. Postpartum recovery varies for every woman. It's okay to take it slow.
4. Breastfeed Immediately After Exercise
It is best to not breastfeed immediately after exercising to avoid the build-up of lactic acid in the breast milk.
Here are a few more tips for you to exercise while breastfeeding.
1. Once cleared for exercise, start with about 10 to 20 minutes of workouts and gradually build it up to 30 minutes.
2. If your breasts are engorged or too full, you might feel uncomfortable. Be kind to yourself and address the issue before following your exercise routine at such times.
3. Deep breathing, pelvic tilts, abdominal crunches are good exercises to strengthen your core. However, do check with your doctor before starting core exercises.
4. As you regain your strength with exercise, you can consider babywearing during exercise to keep the baby close and use this as a further bonding opportunity.
5. Be flexible with your exercise routine. If you don’t feel very good on a particular day, it’s completely okay to skip exercise or reduce the duration.
Celebrating Your Journey
You might not be able to do what you once did - and that's okay. The postpartum period is not about reclaiming your former body; it's about honoring what your body has done - growing and nourishing a life - and embracing its transformation.
Each mother, each baby, and each breastfeeding journey are unique. Listen to your body, embrace its strength and resilience, and celebrate each step you take on your path to fitness.
You are strong; you are dedicated; you are wonderful, and you're doing a fantastic job.
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