Working Out While Nursing: What to Expect

| Fitness

Getting your pre-pregnancy body back after giving birth is often a top priority for new moms, but many women feel like they should hold off on returning to their workouts during the nursing period. Luckily for you, research and professional opinion claim that getting back into your regular exercise routine is nothing but beneficial to you and your newborn! However, chances are your body has changed a bit since the last time you hit the gym, so we've gone ahead and compiled a list of things you can expect to experience as a fitness mama!

woman hiking with baby

Don't race to get back in shape. Many experts believe that breastfeeding actually helps you lose that baby weight faster, since milk production can burn through about 300 to 500 calories a day, all on its own! When you breastfeed, your body utilizes the excess fat that you put on during pregnancy in order to make milk for the newborn. You probably won't need a drastic diet or exercise routine to return to your pre-pregnancy weight, so don't feel like you need to kill yourself the minute you start your workout. A gradual increase in fitness is much healthier for you, and puts less strain on your body. You've already been through a huge ordeal, and your body will need time to fully recover. Make sure you pace yourself; build up slowly to where you were pre-pregnancy, so as not to overwork yourself.

Get your milk out before you hit the gym. Even with the assistance of a sports bra, running with engorged breasts can cause a whole different kind of pain and discomfort for new mothers. To deal away with the distress, try to schedule your workouts right after you feed your baby. Not only will the feeding calm your child, but it will also allow you to enjoy your workout, without any distractions!

>> Read more: Making the Best Choices for Your Childbirth

woman yoga bed

Expect an increase in your mood. Not only does exercise keep you healthy and fit (regardless of whether you are breastfeeding), but it also has a plethora of other benefits of which you should totally take advantage! Working out stimulates the release of endorphins (hormones that make you feel good), which can help eliminate any lingering baby blues you may be experiencing. Regular exercises can boost your mood and energy levels, and can also help relieve stress, so next time you are feeling a little overwhelmed, consider practicing some yoga or going for a jog!

Stay extra-hydrated. Of course proper hydration is crucial for everyone, but it is especially important for nursing mothers. The amount of water you drink directly affects the quality and quantity of your milk supply. Instead of chugging your water all at once, try to drink an extra two or three glasses before and during your workout. If you've found that you are unmotivated to drink plain old water as much as you should, try adding a little flavor to your drink with these recipes!

Wear a solid sports bra. Ah, the true nemesis of the nursing mother: the sports bra! Rookie moms often struggle to find a sports bra that can offer them the right amount of support when they are ready to start working out again, and with all the choices out there, it's no wonder! There are tons of promising styles that might lure you in with their flashy colors and criss-crossed straps, but when it comes to a sports bra to wear while nursing, you might need to ditch the more glamorous options in favor of something a little more practical. The two most important features of a nursing sports bra are support and access. Above all, you must make sure that your new bra isn't hoisting your breasts up under your chin or, on the other side of the spectrum, letting them bounce about uncontrollably. Look for a bra that will keep your girls comfortably strapped in. Also, the ideal nursing sports bra has easy access so that if you need to feed, you don't have to fight your way out of a straightjacket. For some excellent options, check out Rookie Moms' website by clicking here.

workout success

>> Read more: The Elusive Post-Baby Body: Real Mom's Top 5 Tips

It is important that you remember that you aren't going to regain your athleticism straight after giving birth. You have got to give your body time to adjust to the added stress of exercise on top of its new responsibilities! There are tons of tips out there on easing back into an exercise routine, so make sure you educate yourself before you jump in. You should aim to lose no more than a pound a week while you are nursing. Any more than that could affect your milk production! Make sure you consult with your physician before you return to your normal workout routine, as he or she may have some added tips for you on what to expect. For additional information, check out our sources: Breastfeeding Basics, Rookie Moms, Parenting Magazine, About Health