But now I want to talk about exercise because many moms are scared to workout for fear of damaging their supply. Many are under the impression that exercise will have a negative effect on their milk which is absolutely not true.
I know I personally have been told to do minimal exercise focusing on cardio for 30 minutes as nursing mom.
No, just no. I’ll get to why in a second.
Exercise has actually been shown to increase your supply as long as nutrition and hydration are on point. Eat to manage hunger, energy and cravings, time carbohydrates appropriately to balance insulin and drink a minimum of 3 liters of water. Yes, that much water. Your supply is not based off how many carbohydrates you consume.
This does not mean you need to eat a surplus of calories or eat an abundance of food just because you lifted weights or ran 3 miles and are nursing. Yes you are burning more calories nursing and exercising but that does not mean you can just eat “whatever.” It simply doesn’t work that way and why would you knowing that what you eat is what your baby eats. Right?
That being said, eating good food to nourish your body is always going to make a bigger impact than counting calories burned during a nursing session or exercise. Ditch the whole calorie concept, eat good food and exercise because you need to move your body. Let go of the numbers because after all, it’s just a number. Calories in vs calories out might be good for some, but for nursing moms, there is so much more to getting results.
If you are a nursing mom, you actually need to exercise for so many other reasons that getting back into your “pre baby” jeans.
And it doesn’t need to be “light” or just cardio either. You can exercise intensely as long as hydration is increased.
Exercise is much needed for your hormones and your mind as you enter into motherhood. Not only with postpartum depression but with stress, anxiety, lack of energy. You name it, exercise is likely going to help.
Exercise for a mom should be mandatory. Seriously, there is no better way to have more patience, get more energy to deal with life, and just FEEL better than a good sweat session.
So what kind of exercise can I do?
Any. Really, as long as you are cleared by the doc and have hopefully seen a pelvic floor physiotherapist in your area for separation and to assess your pelvic floor, you are good to go. Of course you will need to modify as you are healing for months (not just the traditional six weeks), but simply not exercising for fear of decreasing your supply is not the answer. It just isn’t true and the benefits of exercise far outweigh the “fear.”
My advice for fat loss: pick up some heavy weights and focus on moving during the day. Focus on time efficient strength workouts and engage in movement. Do not spend an hour in the gym because you “think” that is what you should do. If you love Crossfit, do that. If you love group fitness, do that. But know that with your postpartum hormonal changes, using exercise to your advantage (lowering your already high cortisol and insulin) with weights is key.
As a nursing mom, we are faced with many hormonal changes. Prolactin is high, cortisol is usually through the roof from added stress, leptin is at an all time high from lack of sleep and many women are also insulin resistant from poor nutrition or pregnancy.
The goal is to exercise smarter and more effective. Heavy weights and intense interval training not only lowers cortisol but increases HGH (human growth hormone) and testosterone which together are a recipe for fat loss.
More is not better, better is better.
When it comes to fat loss, heavy weights are going to be your best friend for so many reasons. Hormones, stress, and strength to name a few. Pedaling on the elliptical, not so much. Remember steady state cardio increases cortisol which we know as a nursing mom we do not need.
If you need workouts given to you, consider becoming a member of the Healthy Mom Lifestylers Club where you get hormone and nutrition coaching, workouts given to you every month plus become a member of the best community of moms around.
You may very well hold onto some fat while nursing (you can thank hormones) which is why exercise HAS to go BEYOND the number of calories burned. It has to be about something bigger than the pre pregnancy jeans that won’t button.
It’s about how you feel when you exercise.
Or your kids who are watching.
It’s about taking care of yourself so you can take care of everyone else.
So wherever you are in your postpartum journey, make a commitment right now to start moving. Start small and increase as you are successful.
It’s not about being perfect. It’s about doing.
Done beats perfect.
Something is always better than nothing.
Get moving mamas!