26 May

Breastfeeding and Exercise

As we come towards the end of Move in May 2022, we are reflecting on the challenge undertaken over the month by many people. 

We are often asked questions about exercising while breastfeeding, and want to share some evidence-based information so you can make the right decisions for you and your baby when it comes to exercising. 

Can you exercise when breastfeeding?

Yes, absolutely. Perhaps not while you are actually feeding baby(!) but exercising is a great way to improve and maintain your physical and mental health.

How soon after birth can you exercise?

We recommend you follow advice given by your GP or midwife, as circumstances can differ based on your birth experience and physical health.

Generally, pelvic floor and tummy exercises can be started within days as well as gentle walking, getting some fresh air with your baby is a great way to get out in those first few weeks.

After your 6-8 post-natal check-up, your health professional will be able to advise what is suitable for you going forwards, so do wait until this health check before you start any high-energy or high-impact exercise like running or aerobics.

Start slowly and build up rather than jumping in, your body has spent 9 months growing a baby and needs time to recover. The newborn stage can be a time of big adjustment and some challenges, so don’t put any pressure on yourself to get back to a pre-baby figure, fitness level or physical health.

Are any types of exercises off-limits?

As long as you feel physically able and are not experience pain or discomfort while exercising, there are no exercise types that should be off-limit while you are breastfeeding.

Some people find it helpful to follow specific post-natal exercise or training programmes as they are tailored more specifically to the recovery needed after pregnancy and birth.

Does it have an impact on your milk supply?

There is no evidence that normal levels of exercise would affect your milk supply. You may find that baby may be a little fussy at the breast due to excess salt in mothers sweat if feeding soon after exercise. A quick shower or wash will help to remove the excess salt.

Strenuous exercise has been shown, in some studies, to lead to a temporary increase in lactic acid levels in human milk – some mothers report their baby is fussy for a while afterwards but they do not report any effect on their milk supply or their baby’s growth.

What should I wear to exercise while breastfeeding?

Anything you feel comfortable in! Try to pick lightweight fabrics as you may feel warmer from the physical activity, and a good sports bra is often desirable to help you feel secure. Some parents choose to purchase post-natal / nursing sports bras, and it’s important that these are a good fit for you – your back and cup shape is likely to change between pregnancy and a few weeks into breastfeeding so be aware of this and check you are wearing the correct size.

When should I feed my baby if exercising?

You may feel more comfortable feeding your baby before you exercise, so you don’t feel ‘full’ while undertaking physical activity.

If you are incorporating your baby in your exercise regime e.g. baby yoga, a sling/carrier workout or a buggy fitness class, it’s best to make sure your baby has around 20 minutes between the end of the feed and the start of the exercise. This helps their stomach to settle and start digesting the milk – the same as we wouldn’t exercise directly after eating a meal!

We hope you find this information helpful to assist in your decision-making surrounding exercising while breastfeeding. Further information and references for this article can be found using the following links: 

Keeping fit and healthy with a baby – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Exercise – La Leche League International (llli.org)

Breastfeeding and diet – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

 

We want to thank Claire at Natal Active for co-authoring this article as part of our Move in May 2022 campaign.

26 May

Running ‘Top Tips’ by Ashford Striders running club

Ashford Striders is a friendly, not-for-profit running club based in Ashford, Kent.  We meet twice weekly and offer a number of different runs for varying abilities, from complete beginners to marathon runners to triathletes! All money from membership is invested back in to the club, including social events, training our run leaders, as well as other events too.

We asked our members for their top tips when it comes to starting exercise or running. Here’s what they had to say…

“My top tip: Find a running partner or group to keep you motivated!”

“Follow a plan such as Couch 2 5k so you don’t do too much too soon and injure yourself!”

“If you are struggling to increase the distance you run – slow down! If you can’t run more slowly, put in regular walk breaks!”

“Highly recommend going to parkrun, even if just 1 lap and/or jog/walk, that’s where I started.”

“Correct shoes!”

“Try not to eat within 2 hours before to help avoid a stitch”

“Try not to hunch or slouch – keep your head high and look ahead!”

“If you do pursue running, try to cross-train, i.e. the gym, HIIT workouts, cycling etc. as this will improve your running.”

“Don’t compare yourself to others!”

“Embrace bad weather, skin is waterproof!”

“Make sure you stretch after a run.”

“Always wear SPF when running outside!”

“Most of all though, enjoy it!”

If you are local to Ashford and would like to come along for a free trial, please visit our website www.ashfordstriders.uk for more information.

Thank you to Ashford Striders for supporting with our Move in May campaign, contributing this blog post as well as a virtual run with warm-up and cool-down videos. 

05 May

Move in May: our Community Champions experiences so far

Our community champions have got off to a strong start with being active for 30 minutes every day in May.
Here, Cara and Jessica share what they have been up to with their families over the first week of Move in May.

‘We are four days in to Move in May and I am loving the conversations it is prompting in our house, particularly with my four year old. We have been speaking about the importance of moving our bodies and getting fresh air.

Most of the time he is very keen to get involved but, as you can see, he does get tired occasionally!’

– Cara

So far my first week is going ok. Since me and my little one had Covid 3 weeks ago, my energy levels and my mental health have taken a big dip and suffered a lot. This is also another reason why I wanted to take part in Move in May, it’s amazing how even 30 minutes of activity can all help with the recovery process.

On Sunday 1st May, me and my little one had an hour dance-athon to 80s music in our living room as the weather was rather miserable. Then on bank holiday Monday, I decided I would try out my new weighted hula-hoop and give my kids a good giggle. The next morning my hips were pretty sore but we managed a 2 hour walk along Port Solent and Portchester Castle which really helped with clearing my head. There’s something about walking and just listening to the sounds of birds, water etc. that’s so therapeutic. 

I’m looking forward to more activities and plenty of walking over the next few days and weeks and what’s best is I get to do it all with my little teddy

– Jessica

If you haven’t yet started Move in May, or haven’t signed up, there’s still time to join us! By signing up, you’ll get access to our exclusive live-stream workouts as well as weekly emails, updates, tips and more! 

Register here

03 May

5 ways to keep motivated for Move in May

As life gets busy, things can get in the way of your best intentions. Motivation can dip when there are lots of other priorities and getting going can sometimes feel like the hardest thing to do.

We wanted to share with you a few tips to help keep you motivated during May, so you can move for 30 minutes every day and feel healthier, physically and mentally.


Do it early in the day

Often, our days seem to get busier as they progress, even if we are ticking things off our to-do list. It’s easy to be knocked off track with unexpected situations or when things get busy, especially if you are working, looking after children, housekeeping or running errands. One way to ensure you keep up your activity during May is to do it earlier in the day.

Maybe you could leave the car at home and walk to school or perhaps you could walk the long way home after dropping the kids off.

Or why not book an early swim session at a local swimming pool one weekend – everyone can take part in burning off some energy and you’ve got the rest of the day to spend together doing whatever you fancy.

Be prepared the night before

After a long day, it can be easy to fall straight into bed without thinking of the next day. Benjamin Franklin once said ‘“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” You definitely won’t be failing by falling into bed tired, but it can help to get some things ready the night before to make the next morning run smoothly. Here’s some ideas of what might help:

  • Decide on your clothes and get them out of the wardrobe (especially key if you are going to work out early, putting gym clothes on triggers your brain that you are going to exercise).
  • Make your lunch / family lunches the night before so it’s ready to grab the next day.
  • Pack your bag / change bag / work bag with everything you need. Anyone else run around each morning trying to locate purse/wallet, keys, charger, laptop etc.?
  • Write a list of 3 key actions you need to do the next day to keep you focused.

Set goals

When you want to achieve something, it’s been proven that those people who write it down as a goal are more likely to achieve it. It doesn’t have to be a big goal setting exercise with vision boards, purpose statements and long descriptions, it can be as simple as ‘Tomorrow, I will walk for 30 minutes’. By setting a specific, measurable goal, you are preparing your mind for what will happen.

If you want to, you could set goals each day or week, or an overarching one for the whole of May; different things work for different people.

Use a tracker

Once you have set a goal, you need to know how close to achieving it you are! For Move in May, we have created trackers for you so it’s easy to keep an eye on your progress. There’s a Milk Family tracker for children (or adults too – I know some of the BfN team are using it!) or a straightforward one for adults to use. By visually seeing your progress, you can be proud of how far you’ve come and look forward with positivity to the next steps too.

Take a look at our trackers here.

Get others involved

Have you ever noticed that when you do something with someone else, it’s often more fun? Take the same thought and apply it to Move in May! Here’s some ideas of how you can get others involved:

  • Message a friend to arrange a bike ride together
  • Organise a playdate at the local park and join in with the kids
  • Attend a local fitness class with your partner
  • Create a WhatsApp group with close family so they can encourage and support you

Even if they can’t join you every day, having someone come along side you (physically or virtually) can be a great support and motivate you to keep going through your challenge. We often show up and become more motivated when we know others have an interest in what we are doing.

If you need ideas of active things to do, you can take a look at our list of activities here.

Remember, you are amazing! Every time you choose to do something active, you are improving your health, getting fitter and you should feel more energized (good old endorphins!).

Not registered for Move In May yet? Click here!


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