Fun fact: Nearly 40% of all of New Year’s resolutions are weight-related. OK, so that isn’t necessarily breaking news, but it’s important to remember that we aren’t alone on this journey. If you recently had a baby, chances are you are one of those people and are planning to shed the last of those pesky pregnancy pounds in 2017. (My baby was born in 2014, and I’m still resolving to get to the gym to lose the last of it.)
After I had my daughter, yoga was one of the few things that saved my sanity: it allowed me a mental wellness break; a chance to stretch out and soothe my sore muscles; and the opportunity to climb that uphill mountain to regaining my pre-pregnancy shape.
That being said, it’s never easy for a new mom (or any mom!) to get to the gym, the mat or the barre. And if you happen to be breastfeeding, it’s even harder. Not only is it about finding the time, for breastfeeding moms it’s also about the physical limitations and potential reactions your body may have.
With that in mind, I put together five tips to help those breastfeeding mamas accomplish their New Year’s resolution.
1. Start slow.
The worst thing any of us could do is push ourselves too far. As mamas, our health and well-being is not just critical for us, we also have little people who depend on us to feel our best. If you were a chronic “worker-outer” before baby, you need to accept that pushing yourself beyond your breaking point is a thing of the past. Feel the burn…just don’t light yourself on fire.
2. Keep it clean.
Luckily, most studies have shown that exercising while breastfeeding has zero impact on milk production or the taste of a mother’s milk (with the exception of premiere athletes who have rigorous work-out schedules). Your milk supply and taste won’t change as the result of you hitting the gym or mat a few times a week. However, sweat may change the taste of your skin, and your little person might get some extra saltiness if you’re feeding or pumping before hitting the shower. To avoid any reaction, make sure to rinse off beforehand, or, at the very least, use some of those handy baby wipes for a quick clean (hey, we’re moms…s**t happens).
3. Honor your body.
Not only does the reality of bringing a human into the world change our bodies and our ability to perform certain exercises, breastfeeding offers its own unique set of challenges. For example, when your milk is starting to re-stock, getting into a Half Locust isn’t the most comfortable position. On top of comfort, certain routines (like weightlifting, pull-ups, push-ups and even poses like standing floor bow or flowing through to downward dog) can cause excess strain on your pectoral muscles. The strain and repetition of these movements could lead to clogged ducts. If working with a trainer or instructor, let him or her know beforehand, and simply take it slow and monitor how you feel afterwards. It doesn’t happen to every mom, but its something to be aware of.
4. Stay hydrated.
It’s a no brainer anytime we work out! But, to guarantee that you’re continuing to produce at the same rate and maintaining your energy (and not running the risk of dehydration, especially if you’re a hot yoga junkie, like myself), keep a water bottle handy throughout the day. There’s not set number as it varies, but the general idea is 8 ounces every time you’re feeding or pumping, on top of the recommended 2-liters a day for the average person. I suggest stocking up on healthy energy drinks or coconut water to make sure you’re replenishing anything you’re sweating out.
5. Get comfortable.
Every breastfeeding has a different journey, but one thing we can all relate too is the occasional discomfort (especially in those early months). They key is finding a supportive and comfortable sports bra that works for you. Beyond Yoga has a ton of gorgeous sports bras and tops, but sometimes we just need less fashion, and more functionality. Being such a mama-friendly brand, Beyond Yoga answered that need with bras that allows you to adjust to your own specific needs and comfort level!
The most important thing is to listen to your body and take it one workout at a time. Burning yourself out early isn’t going to get you to your goal, and will just leave you feeling defeated. Set realistic expectations and cut yourself some slack. Remember the tortoise and the hare…slow and steady wins the race.