Running & Breastfeeding
when i started running just over two years ago, i had recently weaned charlotte and was finally free. don't get me wrong, i love breastfeeding my little ones, but i had spent the previous three years straight either pregnant or breastfeeding and i was happy to have a little break. after theodore was born i was really concerned with consuming enough myself to make enough milk for him and continue to exercise at the level i was before and during his pregnancy.
perhaps the most difficult part of breastfeeding and running is drinking enough water. when he was a newborn i was so thirsty all of the time, not only when i was coming back from a run but just around the clock. i had little glasses half filled with water littered all over the house. any place i had recently nursed the baby or near any place i had rested my feet for a quick minute. even now, at six months postpartum, i still find myself parched at strange times of day and i'm never too far from my huge water bottle (i got mine from barre3 HERE and it's fantastic). staying hydrated is so incredibly important for anyone, but especially when breastfeeding and especially when running.
in addition to water, i recently discovered (and became obsessed) with the book run fast. eat slow. it's an incredible cookbook for athletes full of real food recipes and the science behind them for runners and people in general. i'll spare you a full synopsis, but if you're a runner you need to get it asap. in the book they have a recipe for apple ginger cider which is incredibly delicious. i make some after each of my long runs and maybe once more throughout the week because it's so delicious. it's a great real food alternative to drinking something neon blue post-workout.
the arena where i generally fall short is caloric intake. i know that in order to stay healthy and produce enough milk for theodore, i need to consume more calories than i expend. simple as that. but breastfeeding a newborn burns about 500 calories a day and running a handful of miles does the same so i'm hitting the cabinets and the fridge for food, it seems, every hour or so. make-ahead snacks full of healthy, high calorie, delicious ingredients has been my savior (like the superhero muffins from run fast. eat slow.) i spend sunday making foods that i can easily snack on all week long between meals to keep my energy and milk supply up.
it's not easy, and it's totally exhausting, but i wouldn't give up my running for anything. it's completely possible to run while breastfeeding as long as you're smart about it. there have been weeks or days where i don't consume enough food or drink enough water or rest enough and i feel it both in my body and through my emotions. but that's why i run in the first place: to keep my emotions in check. i'll take a few extra hours of meal prep for the week in exchange for something i love that keeps me healthy and happy. theodore may get a few salty meals, but he's not complaining either ;)
are you breastfeeding and running? i would love to hear your story!
PS there's just a few more days before my fundraiser for every mother counts is over! i'm running 13.1 miles with every mother counts to raise money and awareness for maternal health around the globe including right here at home where maternal health is surprisingly on the decline. while you were reading this article, two women have died due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. donate now to help make sure that all women get the care they need to become mothers.