Breastfeeding moms have special challenge when exercising

20140106-122845.jpgIf you have had a regular routine of working out before baby was born, you may be eager to get back to that routine. Regardless of previous habits, most moms are eager to get rid of that sort-of-pregnant look that lingers after baby’s arrival.
Breastfeeding will help burn extra calories, but exercise will be helpful to tone muscles that have not been used much or been stretched out of shape. Even a regular walk with baby will contribute to getting your body back and help with your overall feeling of well-being after baby comes.
Here’s the issue: your breasts are larger and heavier than they were before baby. You have nursing bras that are bigger to accommodate these changes. However, a lactating breast can weigh 4 times as much as before pregnancy. Your nursing bras are designed to carry this weight during normal activity…not for exercise. Wearing your nursing bras while exercising won’t be as comfortable or supportive as you need them to be and it will make them wear out much faster. You’ll end up with saggy bras in no time.
To exercise comfortably:
• Nurse or pump immediately before exercising to minimize the weight in your breasts.
Wear a well-fitting encapsulation sport bra. This is a bra with band and cup sizes…a serious bra for serious support.
Avoid compression bras. These are the bras that squish your breasts tightly against your chest to try to reduce movement. These are uncomfortable when your breasts are large and heavy, and compression is what used to be suggested to make milk dry up. Pressure and binding can lead to painful plugged ducts.
Are there nursing bras which are made for exercise? There are a couple that may work for some women. Leading Lady has one labeled a sport bra which is a cotton knit. In reality it’s a reasonable sleep bra, but not much more. Cake has a new nursing sport bra and time will tell if it lives up to it’s promise. Others have come and gone, usually with a high price tag and limited size range.
The reality is you are probably not going to need to feed your baby while you are wearing a sport bra. You’ll feed/pump before and most likely shower/change before it’s time to feed again. Get a serious bra to let you concentrate on your exercise; you won’t have to worry about how your breasts are bouncing.
Exercise is good for you…give yourself the gift of some time stretching your legs and get yourself moving!
-Sue Petracek, IBCLC

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