Before I divulge any further information; I want to preface by saying that I am not trying to portray as an expert of any said subject I chose to talk about. I feel like it is up to the individual to make their own decisions based on their own research. However, I do think that it is important for us to all share and honor the choices we have made along our journey as parents/runners.
Some might call me a crunchy, granola mom. I think labels are fine and dandy, but I think it is limiting for us to put ourselves in a single box. I dabble in all spectrums of “parenting styles” and only make decisions based on what I feel is best for my boys…not because the other “crunchy/granola” parents are doing it.
When Ryan and I decided to have babies we came to the decision together that breast milk was best for our boys and that we were going to let them tell us when they were done. I was blessed enough to be given a supply that could probably feed a small village; so the choice really was up to our boys about when they wanted to stop nursing.
I share this information hoping you all will honor my choice and at least keep your negative opinions to yourself if you have them; Bodhi, my oldest, didn’t stop nursing until he was close to 5. Trout, my youngest is still nursing and getting most of his calories from me. I get a lot of, “wow, that’s gross” or “if they can say milk, then they shouldn’t get it”. My choice, thankfully I have that right, and enough about that.
Training for a marathon alone is taxing on the body; add nursing for the last 6 years straight and I am probably asking more from my body than I should and I am trying my best to be as kind and gracious as possible.
How am I keeping up my supply while training? How am I not wasting away to nothing? How am I still building strength and muscle tissue?
I really don’t know, but I think the fact that I am keeping my caloric intake up, eating most of my calories from food that is nutrient dense, never having touched birth control or any hormone contraceptive that can have a negative impact on milk supply and bone density, or just plain luck; I would like to think being diligent about taking care of myself as really helped.
What would I advise moms who are wanting to nurse and still run? First, I want them to know that they are rock stars and wether they chose to nurse and run or discontinue nursing and still run, or any other option available…believe in yourself and your choice and know that you are doing what’s best for you.
I also believe in consulting the experts (not just your MD). I have an entire village helping me stay afloat while I am taking on nursing my boys and chasing my dreams in running. I really believe in the theory that it takes a village to raise a child; my mom, friends, sisters, all of my health care providers…they help me navigate my body and what works and what doesn’t work.
Hydration! I won’t suggest any supplements, foods, or crazy voodoo to help produce milk along with running crazy mileage, but I will recommend drinking more water. Drinking enough water is good for your health. Drinking water is necessary for a nursing mother runner! If I don’t drink enough water, I get light headed, grouchy, “backed up”, and my milk supply drops drastically. I will say that it is important to balance drinking plain water along with electrolyte ladened hydration, too much plain water can upset the balance…awe balance…it is a beautiful and tricky thing!
My other biggest piece of advice for mother runners is to find a sports bra that is kind to the “ladies”. Running with lactating breasts can be tricky business. I know from personal experience that if you wear bras that are too constricting, have wiring, and don’t feel good putting on can lead to mastitis. I unfortunately had 2 bad bouts while nursing Bodhi and a too tight sports bra and I am diligent about being kind to the milk makers every since! I don’t suggest letting yourself go footloose and fancy free, (that’s painful just thinking about it). I do think it is a good idea to research sports bras and trying some on!
My favorite sports bras for running while nursing are moving comfort particularly this one and this one. Moving comfort bras are great because they have the straps that can be adjusted but secretly are great because you can nurse without taking off your bra.
I recommend buying a bra in more than one size while nursing. I typically go up or down cup sizes and having a bra that fits each moment in my nursing life really makes a difference in training being enjoyable/comfortable.
Trout and I want to wish all of you ladies who decide to nurse and run the best of luck! Trout wants to personally thank you for supplying the good stuff and wants to let you know that there is no “functification” that occurs when a mom runs, (that is something I’ve heard a lot lately…that running makes the milk taste bad)…he still gives my milk thumbs up 😉 Kind words, stories of success/failure/frustration/victories are encouraged…but I will not post any comments of negative judgment and I’m probably not the blogger for you if you find this post horrible. Thank you for letting me share something I consider very personal, but also incredibly important to me in my life right now!