Sunday, April 22, 2012

Breastfeeding and Running

A reader Laura made a comment about glad to hear of another nursing athletic mama out there and I'd been thinking of writing a post about this, so here it is.
I have run (and biked and swam) after all of my kids and breastfed them all as well.  I don't know the difference, breastfeeding minus the training, but I've made it work.  I do think it is possible to be a competitive endurance athlete and be your child's sole source of nutrition.  I've birthed big babies and grown big babies out of the womb.  I know every woman and every baby is different and this IS NOT a post to belittle or condemn or anything like that moms who use formula, this is just my experience with breastfeeding. I'm no lactation expert, but here we go, here's what I know

Losing the baby weight too quickly after baby can affect your milk supply.  My midwives have said you shouldn't lose more than 2lbs/week after baby is born.  The body needs that fat supply to produce a good supply to get your nursing relationship going.
That said, I've kind of always just had the baby weight come off really quickly (don't hate me, I still have to work out to be strong and athletic and competitive) and I've managed to nurse my kids all for a year on average.  I think the point is not to try to work the pounds off in those first 2 months.

Getting enough calories and hydration is key, super important.  You can't try to restrict calories in those first 2-3 months after birth.  The body is recovering from carrying and bearing a child and now needs to produce enough milk to sustain a baby.  Breastfeeding itself will burn 300-500 calories/day, so let that be your diet if you're concerned.  Eat enough, eat quality, and eat often
Hydration.  Probably the most important thing to breastfeeding (along with a proper latch from baby - google it, check out the Kellymom website, or LaLeche League site).  When I asked my midwife about the supplements you can take to increase your milk supply she said they were fine, but that getting enough water was first and foremost and would do more good than the supplements would.  64oz at absolute minimum is essential for everyone, more like 96oz is optimal for nursing moms, and especially for those of us who want to work out too.  Now I'm not the best at it, but I try.  I'm actually going to try filling up as many water bottles as I'll need to get that 64-96oz in the morning and putting them in the fridge.  Should be a good way to track how much I'm drinking and remind myself when I open the fridge constantly that I still have more to drink.

Proper support is important.  Obviously while working out you need a great sports bra like the Moving Comfort Juno I wrote about in the post below.  There is so much force the girls have to deal with while we run.  Protect them the best you can.  Invest in a great sports bra.  Worth the money.
Invest in a great bra during the day too.  The breasts can be so heavy post baby and add some milk to that and that's a fair amount of weight to support.  I used to try to get by with whatever bra was cheapest, but I splurged with our 3rd baby and bought a $45 Anita nursing bra and man it's great!  Great support, great function, looks best under clothes.  Worth it.  Another bra I've found to be great while nursing for day to day (not for high impact workout out), is the Handful bra.  I've had a Handful for a couple years now and reviewed it here, but I ran into one of the head ladies with that great company at Outdoor Retailer this January and she gave me a white one, will go better under clothes than my pink  :)  and wanted me to try it out while nursing.  I was skeptical because I didn't want to bend or mis-shape the great pads in there, but it hasn't.  I lift it up to nurse and it's soft elastic band makes that comfortable and the pad just seems to stay out of the way but without getting all bent out of shape.  Great thing about that bra too is it hides nursing pads (I love reusable breathable nursing pads made from a combo of organic cotton/hemp/bamboo velour, check Etsy, these are some pretty great ones when I don't want to leak through, I use thinner ones when I'm not going out of the house).  I think the Handful hides nursing pads better than any of my other bras so when I want a smooth look because I'm going to actually throw something on for the day besides a tech shirt, that's my go to.

I think breastfeeding is great.  I'm really a fan.  Aside from the huge nutritional benefits, the enormous savings not buying formula, and the wonderful close skin cuddle time it is for baby and I (not that bottle feeding isn't, and this post is not to bash formula feeders AT ALL, it' simply a post on breastfeeding to help those interested in it), I love breastfeeding for it's convenience as well.  Nothing like going out on errands or out on a run and knowing I don't need to worry about where I'm going to make a bottle or run out of formula.
Breastfeeding can be hard work those first 6-8 weeks though.  You may deal with engorgement or worry you're not feeding baby enough, your supply isn't big enough.  If baby is happy and having wet and messy diapers and gaining weight you're good!  Something I had to learn the hard way (meaning I stopped nursing our first baby at 5 months old because I thought I had dried up) is that you don't have to feel huge and engorged to have milk.  The body produces it when the baby feeds.  Just because your breasts don't feel full doesn't mean baby isn't getting full from you.  Nursing can hurt.  Even on my fourth baby, there were still a couple weeks of grin and bear it and breathe through those first 15 seconds of baby latching on.  Learn a proper latch, use a nursing balm on your nipples after every feeding (I like a balm like Motherlove more than just plain lanolin like I've used before), use breathable nursing pads or at least expose the skin to air as much as you can, and give it a good 6 weeks.  The pain goes away and it gets better and you can have this great nursing relationship while burning calories with your sweet baby.  If you end up using formula it's not the end of the world and you're not a bad mom, I'm just saying to give it time, drink your water, and enjoy that special bonding skin to skin time with your baby if you have any desire to breastfeed.  I think it's pretty great!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

An awesome running AND nursing sports bra? Yep! I found one!

2016 update below

 I'm so happy with my Moving Comfort Juno bra!  I've run while nursing all my babies, but have never been super comfortable.  With our first baby I just wore two compression sports bras.  Worked ok support wise, but not great and it's funny how when you're not used to it (larger cup size), the girls bouncing around actually throws your gait off, did for me anyway, drove me nuts!  With our 2nd baby I bought my first encapsulating bra (sports bra with cups, not just a solid piece of 'hold em down' fabric) and it worked better, but often I'd have to wear a compression bra on top of that as well.  Then we had our 3rd baby and I bought a more expensive sports bra, sometimes you have to pay for quality.  I think it may have even been a moving comfort, but it was kind of old school with a cotton outer.  I remember running the St George Marathon with it.  Rained the whole entire race and two spots on the top hem of the bra rubbed me so bad I was bleeding by the end.  But it was a good bra support wise.  To nurse however I'd have to hook it on the loosest setting in the back, only hook one hook (not the 3 it had, make sense?) and just pull one side up while I nursed.  Yes it gave me the access I needed, but was uncomfortable smashing the top of my breast (I hate the word boob, don't know why, just do) and I worried I was ruining the band.
The Juno.  Isn't it cute! 
ANYWAY!  Sorry for the digression.  Not sure what happened to that bra but wanted a new one anyway after 3 years.  I found the Moving Comfort Juno and it is just fabulous!  Not only do I get the support I want, but I like the way it looks and it is a breeze to nurse with.  I'll highlight my favorite things about it

  • Great support.  It is more encapsulating than compression, but kind of does both.  Has a nice wide band on the bottom which is important, and the straps don't have elastic, another important feature.  Bounce comes from too loose a band and flexible straps and I do not like bounce.  The straps on the juno also adjust really easily, and from the front - even easier!
  • Comfortable.  It's kind of a pain to get off when I'm done wearing it, but not horrible, and it's easier to get on.  Although it is a racerback style bra, it has 3 rows of hooks in the back to tighten the band down just a little more.  The straps are a great width and slightly padded and I have noticed no discomfort with them at all!  Actually I have noticed no rubbing anywhere from this bra, very important.  The bra will dry well when I use it in tri's and breathes well otherwise.
  • Cute.  Yep, here's my vanity again.  I have a few sports bras that buckle in the back like a regular bra and they are definitely easier to put on, but I don't always love where the strap hits my shoulder blade and they don't always fit well under shirts, especially tank tops, and don't look as cute alone.  I don't go sports bra only very often, but on the occasions that I do I prefer a racer back look.  Anyway, love the look of the back of this bra, and it looks great and is flattering from the front too.  The formed cups are gentle but flattering and not padded, just formed.  Fun colors too!
  • Nursing friendly.  No more pull the bottom up and squish the breast access, this bra has straps that slide in and out of the body of the bra in front easy peasy thanks to great velcro.  Now I know, I said velcro.  But you wouldn't even know its there!  Super trim and not scratchy at all and yet it works!  I have fastened and unfastened this bra so many times already and I initially worried maybe the velcro would wear out and not hold as well, but I have no worries at all so far.  I save the Juno for running and wear other bras on the bike.  I run 3 times a week and teach 2 fitness classes so I'm really in this bra almost every day and when I get back from a workout, my Ella is usually ready to eat.  I'm tired and hungry and don't want to put her off for a shower and new clothes so I really appreciate that I just scoop up my sweet little bundle and nurse her right then.  Will also be really convenient when I start racing soon not to have to change at the finish line before I feed her, and is great when I take her on runs in the trailer and she needs to eat.  Oh and I'm really impressed with how well the bra has held it's shape.  I worried my pulling it up and down would but a kink in the cup but has done great and washes up well.
I don't really have any complaints, but to give an honest review, where the bra hooks together in the back I'll feel like something's there and move the tag sometimes, but it's not that.  It doesn't hurt or rub, just something I'm aware of.  Not a deal breaker at all.
Sizing wise I think they're on.  While nursing I wear a 34C normal bra and went with a 32D Juno.  Now yes the band is tight but that's important and I wanted that.  I do kind of wish I went with a C now that I'm settling into my milk supply, but I needed the D that first month and haven't noticed any new bouncing.  I know when I wore it the month before I had Ella I was sure that was the right size because I was kind of popping out all over, but I forgot that your rib cage goes in a little and for me at least, I go down about a cup size from right before and after baby once my supply settles.  Just keep that in mind if you're expecting.

Thank you Moving Comfort!  They are a great company to deal with too, great website, very knowledgeable customer service and live chat.  I love live chat.  Hope this helps someone, it's really frustrating as a woman to have anything be uncomfortable while exercising.  It's hard enough to fit it all in timing wise, the last thing you need is something else like clothing to get in the way of a good stress relieving break.  Time to get out and enjoy spring!

*I bought this bra myself, it was not a freebie

Edit to update - This post has almost always been my most viewed post, and it's years old now (updating today in March 2016).  A couple other bra's are worth mentioning including the Moving Comfort Jubralee which I have used.  Nice smooth soft fabric, back closure, traditional bra straps, possibly not as much support as Juno but pretty close and easier to get on and off.  Fiona and Rebound Racer from Moving Comfort are two other options to check out too thanks to their front velcro straps making it nursing friendly.  Shefit is a new bra that I saw and recommended to a friend who loves it a lot! Very customizable and nursing friendly.  Stay active my pregnant and nursing friends!  Pay the money for one of these great bras, and get the right size.  Keep hydrated and listen to your body.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

5 reasons I love the bike really!

Sick I know, but it's true. I've had a trainer for years and years and use a Kirt Kinetic Road Machine right now and covet a Powertap or Computrainer but medical bills from my little ambulance ride and ER trip in February have definitely put those on hold for a few years. I have usually used the trainer every winter, but aside from 2010 when I was training for Ironman St George I didn't use it a ton. Well having a baby changes things for an athlete, at least for me. I all of the sudden have to be even more efficient with my time. No time for "hmm, where should I go, what should I wear?", my sweet baby will probably wake up or it will be time to take or pick someone up from school. So without further rambling, here are my reasons for this insanity

1. Convenience - it's in my basement, set up ready to go all the time so that as soon as I have a minute I can run down there and work hard.
2. No clothing dilemma - lame excuse I know, but I don't like being cold at all so to just able to throw on any shorts and sports bra and not worry about it being weather appropriate or matching (yeah I just said that), is awesome!
3. No traffic - there have been many times in the last couple years where I wonder why I'm putting my life at risk just to ride my bike. I thankfully haven't been in any accidents (at least with a car, I broke my foot on the bike all with my own sweet skills), but there are so many close calls out there with drivers being too close, too fast, too rude, or just plain not paying attention and I get pretty anxious sometimes about leaving this world and my beautiful children and husband, just to ride my bike. Now I know accidents can happen anywhere. I could get hurt or die in a car, walking, in my house, I could just get sick, but traffic makes me anxious sometimes and the trainer takes that away.
4. Better workouts - for me anyway. Now I should preface this with I probably get a better lung burn climbing real hills and mountains outside and there's nothing like using outdoors to practice balance, bike handling, and a feel for the road, but on the trainer I can sit down (or stand up) and push hard and strong watts (ignore the fact I have no way to measure those watts, stupid medical bills, it's just a feeling for now) without worry of traffic or stop lights to get in my way. Hard to keep the heart rate up when you're riding cautiously around cars or coasting on a flat or downhill. There is no coasting on the trainer, your wheels just stop, I have to pedal all the time. This is a reason some people say you can count time on the trainer as longer than outside (ie 50 minutes on the trainer is like an hour outside) but I try not to since I usually have sweet mommy interruptions such as 'I'm hungry, honey the baby's hungry (I have nursed on the trainer by the way), please put my Polly Pockets dress on,' or my personal favorite 'Mom! Wipe my bum'. Ah, the good life :) I suppose I would get away from those sweet interruptions by riding outside, but with 4 kids and a husband who works a ton and travels, you gotta do what you gotta do!
5. Me time - now getting outside is great for that too, but I try not to listen to music when on my bike outside and I love turning on YouTube for music or triathlon or ultra running videos, or watching a show on the computer in front of me since we don't have TV. If I'm not doing a specific workout I will stand or spin fast or grind out a big gear on commercials and ride steady in between or shift to a harder gear every commercial or song. It's just nice to get some hard work done while enjoying music or shows I like as well, a true mom, multitasking!

So as I've stated, I do recognize the need for riding outside as well. I actually road outside yesterday on the road bike for an hour thanks to my good friend Heidi for watching my kids since dad is in Boston with Altra for the week. The ride was good, it was good to breath fresh air, look at houses around me and dream, exciting to push up hills and go around corners and remember how to handle a bike on actual roads. I don't think everyone has to love the trainer and use it, but for me right now it's working and working great! I don't know that I'll ever pull my Roo off the trainer at this point. Maybe I'll just bring it to T1 and ride the bike course virtually, that's cool right? :)