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.

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!


Share this post:

10 May

‘BfN helped me through some tough times’

Loisa Hayward is one of the runners in our Mum’s Milk Run. This is her story.

Loisa running for BfN‘I am running the 20km Mums Milk Run virtual race for the Breastfeeding Network to help raise funds to keep this amazing and much needed organisation going.

I am a mum of a beautiful 14 month old girl who I have proudly breastfed since birth. No one told me how tough it actually was to do what is supposed to be a perfectly natural thing for your baby. There were so many times at the start of our journey that I said enough was enough and it was time to stop. But it wasn’t the choice I wanted to make, I wanted to keep going.

We had a ventouse delivery which gave my little girl pain when feeding on a particular side, which led to three initial bouts of mastitis in about 8 weeks. We also had nipple blisters, lack of confidence in feeding out in public, and poor latch (due to prematurity). It was very painful to feed at the start.

The Breastfeeding Network offered support, information and understanding. I was never coerced in to thinking bottle or breast. I was given the space and time to make my own decision and they helped me with that. They helped with positioning, techniques and with allowing me to feel compassion for myself and what I was trying to do.

Going to the group helped me feel reassured that what I was going through was normal for some women and that camaraderie got me through the hard times. What I have found so helpful is the local Facebook group which has gotten me through some very long nights, huge self-confidence issues, and all the other little bits that come up that completely throw you if you haven’t breastfed before.

The atmosphere of the group I attended was very relaxed and friendly. I remember turning up for the first time and my baby girl had a nappy explosion in her car seat; I’m a first-time mum and this sort of thing used to really throw me in to a wobble, but even this non-breastfeeding related issue was taken in its stride as just one of those things at the group, which instantly put me at ease. The volunteers were absolutely lovely, kind and empathetic.

Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I am so happy that I made it through all of the tough early days, the endless nights, the tears and tantrums (from both mum and baby), and all of the happy bonding memories too.

The BfN were a big part in my continuation of breastfeeding my baby. I want to do something to give back to this voluntary organisation by raising some money to help them train more amazing volunteers who give that community support to all parents.

If you would like to sponsor Loisa, please visit her Just Giving page

 

27 Apr

The non-runners guide to our Mum’s Milk Run 2018

The beauty of our virtual run is that you can complete it any way you like. You don’t have to run it at all if running is not your thing. To give you a bit of inspiration for our Mums Milk Run 2018, we have interviewed two of our supporters who did the Mums Milk Run a different way last year

Sukie is Vice-Chair of the BfN board, and last year did the Mums Milk Run through spinning.

I don’t like running, I’m not built to run, and I find it boring! But I’m a member of my local YMCA gym, and they do spinning classes every day, which I love. I do six of those a week. So last year, I decided to do 20 spins in a week for the Mums Milk Run.

I really wanted to be part of the Mums Milk Run because I’m the Vice-Chair of the BfN board, and the longer I’m involved with the organisation, the more I see the inequalities in breastfeeding support, and I really want to help do something about that. I did it because I know we need the funding, and we need to raise awareness.

So I decided on 20 spins in a week, because that seemed like a good challenge compared to my usual six, and I thought it was something people might give me money for. And last year was the 20th anniversary of BfN so 20 seemed like a good amount.

The main challenge was that I couldn’t wash my gym kit quickly enough! It’s an average of three spinning classes a day. Towards the end I was wearing really unflattering mis-matched cobbled together outfits!

I felt extra fit by the end of it. My clothes started to feel loser, and I felt so good about myself, it really helped my self-esteem.

I definitely would recommend spinning to others – I think it is great fun. The music is great, there are some great instructors, and we have a laugh, it’s not too serious. And it’s a great community of all ages. There’s a couple who regularly sit next to me who are 82. They always save me the bike they know I like! I always say I see more of my spinning friends than I see of my husband!

 

Nina is Programme Manager for BfN and last year did part of her Mums Milk Run in Lake Windermere!

Nina at Lake WindermereI am a keen runner, I’ve been running for a long time, and I love long distance running. I’ve done marathons and ultra-marathons. Last year I had to have a knee operation, and by the time the Mums Milk Run came around, the doctors said I could only do a short slow run – 1 mile at the most – because I had to build back up slowly. So I thought ‘OK I will do my Mums Milk run in 20 short little physio runs, getting my strength back’. I really wanted to be part of the Mums Milk Run if I could, because I’ve received so much support from BfN, and I want other people to be able to experience that support.

When all my other running friends were doing spring marathons, for me it was getting back to running after the operation. It could have been quite a lonely time for me, as running is a big part of my social life. But instead of feeling like I was missing out on all the long runs, I became part of such a lovely group of BfN ladies supporting each other through the Mums Milk Run.

That year I even swam part of the Mums Milk Run. I always enjoyed swimming before I was a runner, particularly outdoor swimming. That May I was supposed to run a marathon around Lake Windermere, but I had to defer. I still went anyway to cheer my friends on. Whilst they ran around Windermere, I went and swam the last mile of my 20 miles across the lake. As I was swimming I could see the runners running by, it was lovely, and I felt like I’d achieved something that day.

I do love outdoor swimming. It’s peaceful and calm. When you’re running you can hear other runners, chatting, pounding of footsteps, panting and grunting. In the lake it’s absolutely quiet and peaceful. I regularly just stop and float on my back, because it’s not about the swimming for me, it’s about the quiet and the beautiful views. It’s invigorating. You come out the other end and feel amazing. 

Registration is still open for our Mums Milk Run 2018. If you fancy doing it, but don’t like running, why not do some exercise you do like. It all counts and every registration raises much needed funds for BfN’s work providing independent evidence-based support about breastfeeding. This is all about raising funds and having FUN, plus you will get a unique BfN medal at the end!

 

17 Apr

Why I do the Mums Milk Run

claref - run2018Ahead of the Mums Milk Run 2018, we interviewed some of our regular fundraisers to find out what they get out of doing our bi-annual 20k virtual run. Clare Farquhar is BfN’s Central Support Manager and she got into running recently. Here’s her story.

Why do you run for BfN?

I have been doing the Mums Milk Run virtual run for BfN since the first event in 2017. I used to volunteer as a breastfeeding supporter, but I find I don’t have time for that now, so this is my way of supporting BfN on top of the job I do as BfN Central Support Manager.

I think there are a lot of similarities between running and breastfeeding in terms of things that help make them successful. Being single minded, determined, not caring what others think or say (no one did say anything, but I was worried) are all factors that helped me get into running and into breastfeeding. There’s also the physical and mental health benefits, of both activities, and the sense of achievement when you reach your own goals. They’re both free, you can do them as a group or on your own, at home or out and about. Mentally, breastfeeding and running have a lot of the same challenges, so running for BfN makes so much sense to me.

How did you get started?

I’m from Newcastle, and that’s where the Great North Run starts. Every year I would see the run on TV and wish I could do it, but I never thought I could. Then one year, I don’t know why, I just thought ‘this year I’m going to do it’. That was in 2016, and I was so determined that when I didn’t get a place in the ballot, I signed up to run for a charity – I did it for Mind.

I had never run before, I always hated running at school, and wasn’t really very active at all. I’d just done a bit of netball. But I got a free training plan from the Great North Run website, which was for beginners, and I stuck to it rigidly.

The race was brilliant, and also very emotional for me. It was held on my Dad’s birthday that year, and I wasn’t to know but it ended up being his last birthday. It was held in the September and he died in the January.

I think it was my Dad that motivated me to do the Great North Run in the first place. My sister did it a long time ago, and he’d always said he was proud of her, and I wanted him to be proud of me too. When I look back on it, it’s strange that that year I was suddenly so determined to do the run. My sister did it that day too, although she was a lot faster than me, and I think he was very proud of us both when we came back with our medals.

I completed it in 3 hours and 22 minutes and I did the whole thing on a run/walk basis, which means I ran for a couple of minutes, then walked for a couple of minutes repeatedly.

Since then, running has really helped me get through the bereavement. I think it’s so good for your physical and mental health. When I go running I get to clear my head, and I don’t really think about anything else other than how I’ll get through the next half mile.

What do you like about running?

I like going running on my own, it’s time to myself, and I enjoy listening to my music while I run. Some people like running groups, but they’re not really for me. It’s the peace and quiet I like – being able to go out under my own steam and leaving the house with just a front door key and a bottle of water – it’s quite liberating!

How do you keep going when you really don’t feel like it?

It’s determination that really got me through the tough times when I first started running. I wanted to do it, and so I just did it. Initially I felt a bit self-conscious and was worried what people might think – a woman in her 40s running around, and not having the right gear. But eventually I just decided, I don’t care what other people think. I actually got a lot of support from family and friends, and still do. Occasionally someone will beep their horn at me, and I nearly always automatically assume it is someone having a laugh at my expense, only to find out later it was someone I know beeping to wish me well!

Running for charity really helps, because I get lots of encouragement from friends and family who sponsor me and that gives me added motivation to get out when I really don’t feel like it.

What are your running goals?

I recently completed my first 5k event where I ran the whole way. I was pretty slow but I did it! I’m now working on being able to run the whole way for a 10k. I’ve signed up for the Great Womens Run in Glasgow in June, which is a 10k, so the BfN virtual run will be perfect as part of my training. For me it is all about achieving my own goals and not worrying about what anyone else is doing.