Just as when I was pregnant and running, I am receiving lots of questions via your comments and email about now when I am breastfeeding and running, so I felt I should address some of these thoughts and questions. Apologies to the male readers if this has no appeal to you. However, it does involve the talk of "boobs," so maybe you do want to stick around.
Does running with nursing boobs hurt? Do you wear a special nursing sports bra?
I imagine it would hurt within the first week or two of breastfeeding, when the boobs get engorged and the nipples are sore, but I wasn't running then, so I can't comment on that. I began running again at 5 weeks post partum and by then, my breasts and nipples were used to the feeding, so I have never experienced any pain by running and continuing to breastfeed.
But, I do always pump beforehand, or if I run later in the day, I try to time the run right after Norah has fed, so that either way, I don't have full breasts when I set out for a run.
I do not use a special nursing sports bra. I wear my regular sports bras and they seem to work just fine, but there are special ones out there, and some doctors even advise women to double up on sports bras (I find this latter advice a little out-dated, but whatever works). I think the sports bra you choose would be partially dependent on your bra needs to begin with; the logic is simple: If you have especially large sweater bunnies to begin with, nursing is only gonna make 'em bigger, so keep that in mind.
How much do you eat and drink?
Personally, I have never been a calorie counter, so I can't say with any accuracy how many calories I consume a day, but it's probably a lot. Most literature advises breastfeeding moms to continue to eat as though they are pregnant since the extra calories are needed for milk production. Add to that the calories you expend during exercise, and a breastfeeding woman who is exercising probably needs at least 500-600 extra calories a day. But that's just a guess, and calorie needs would be dependent on how much/how far you're running, and to what extent your infant's needs are for breastmilk.
As far as drinking, basically the same prinicple as eating applies: You need a lot of fluid to produce milk; plus, you need additional fluids to replace those you sweat out. So, to be simple: Drink a lot of water. I drink about 100 oz of water a day. Plus, I have two cups of coffee in the morning, a glass or two of milk a day, and sometimes the occassional diet Sprite (oh, and the occassional beer -- you can have one drink and it won't affect your milk). My advice? Have a bottle of water on hand at all times and sip all day long. Just like any athlete thould do -- drink ahead of your thirst.
You're breastfeeding and running, you must be back to your pre-preggo weight already!
Nope. I'm not. I have about 4 lbs left to lose.
Despite the fact that I'm burning lots of calories with both breastfeeding and running, I am also consuming a lot. Many of you have probably trained for a marathon and gained weight, right? So you know that simply exercising is only one part of weight loss. But, I'm not particularly concerned with losing the remaining 4 lbs; I know it will happen gradually and I'm not in a hurry. My biggest concern is making sure I remain healthy and that my body has enough energy and calories to continue to produce milk, so if I hang onto a few extra pounds for awhile, it's okay.
Doesn't exercising while breastfeeding make your milk "sour"?
Nonsense. There have been lots of studies on this and the scientific conclusion is that ideas such as that one are hooey.
Any advice for a mom who is breastfeeding and thinking of returning to running?
I am no expert, and can only speak from personal experience, but I would say that my advice would be the same as anyone beginning to run: Eat plenty, hydrate, and get plenty of sleep. The last is probably most often overlooked by new mothers, but it is probably one of the biggest things for me. I need my Zzzzzzs. And, I'm lucky because for the past 3 weeks or so, Norah has been sleeping from about 7 pm to 7 am, so I can ensure that I get my full 8 hours a night by going to bed around 8:30 or 9 if I get up and run at 5 am. And truthfully, even on the days when I don't run, I allow myself to sleep until she wakes up around 7, so there are some nights when I too get about 10-11 hours of sleep. And trust me, I need it!
I know there are other breastfeeding, running moms who read this blog, or those who may not presently be doing this, but have done so in the past, so feel free to add to these comments and/or questions!