Thursday, May 16, 2013

Breastfeeding and Running

I want to write to my fellow active breastfeeding mamas to share a bit of my personal experience with breastfeeding and running. I have many women ask me questions about how my milk didn't dry up or if I thought I was losing nutritional value. Many other questions were regarding if I felt tired or what I did about leaking...sometimes you just gotta let it leak and brush it off as sweating. To be absolutely honest, I've never ran into any problems breastfeeding my little guy (and we are still breastfeeding at 25 months). I'm not tooting my own horn here because it was HARD work but it can be done. I think running has helped my milk supply maybe even added a bit of power milk to Anders.

Running a 2:58 marathon. Anders still solely breastfeeding.

Why do I think I didn't run into any problems? Well, I believe it came down to a few things – first off, I was determined! Second off, a fruit and vegetable diet plus adequate hydration will do wonders for your boob milk supply. Third off (the most frightening and maddening for most women), I fed my little guy every 2-4 hours through the night until 16 months. Yep, I kept that milk supply fresh and moving. No breast infections, no swollen breasts well except after the 50-miler in Switzerland when Anders was 10 months. Those were some big boobs; thank God for supportive sports bras.

There are a few other things that I'm sure helped keep my milk supply flowing. Every night, when Anders was solely breastfed (pretty much until 12 months old he only wanted breast milk), I drank mama's milk tea at night. I don't know if it was a huge factor but mentally it made me think...yep, I'm upping the milk supply here. I get to stay at home with Anders so I'm sure the benefit of allowing the boob to always be around helped keep things on track. I also quickly got over the fact that the boobs always needed to be sweat free. I was (and still am) running double, sometimes, triple sessions, and well, a mom has got to do what a mom has got to do and that if that means pulling out the breast after a run, so be it. Another thing is that I was not trying to be stick thing, super lean...I eat food. I'm definitely lean but probably 5lbs from where I should be in order to run my fastest. Some days, when I'm feeling vain, I think about my little extra fat and sigh but then slap my self in the face to remind me that I am supporting a little growing life here. I am supporting this little guy who means everything to me but yay, vanity is evil and having my super lean, speedy body back would be nice.

Ok, regarding being tired. I was and still am haha. Waking up all through the night for 16 months was difficult but the benefits were huge. It is amazing what you can get accustomed to. I cracked (like crazy cracked) at 16 months and knew we had to get a few more hours of sleep in a row. I still wake up for Anders twice a night but this is easy compared to 6 months ago. Again, I was determined and no matter how tired, I would get my butt out that door to run. The thing is, I don't run for weight loss. I run for adventure, passion, love, confidence, testing my limits, squeezing every little ounce of talent out of my body. If you are running for weight loss, forget will wear on you. You'll feel like you are taking crazy pills and start shaving your head like Brittany Spears. Oh lordy.

A few other pointers for keeping to milk supply up...drink your breakfast! Yep, I typically do coconut water or raw orange juice then run my first workout. HYDRATION, ladies. That is key. Don't workout without being hydrated or without a bit of liquid calories. Also, learn to shrug off random leaking. It happens, all the time. I am breast pads biggest customer but sometimes I forget or don't want to run with super absorbent pads in my bra. I would let it leak then spray some water and act like I was overheating or something (of course, I'm running circles in Central Park but if I was frolicking through Vermont woods, I'd let the milk go). YOU CAN DO IT! And no, my milk is NOT nutritionally deficient even while running 80-90 mile weeks. Anders is growing healthy, fast, and tall even when he was only eating breastmilk. I swear I was creating power milk, no lie.

Happy Breastfeeding Ladies!