Breastfeeding demands a lot from our bodies—we work overtime when we nurse, producing the nutrients that our babies need to grow and thrive. There are so many benefits to breastfeeding if you choose to feed your baby that way, but it's hard. It also often means our bodies don't quite look like our pre-pregnancy body. And, that's okay, mama.
During our IG live this week, we spoke with Danielle Bossin-Hardy, a certified strength and conditioning coach and member of FitTrack, who informed us that building muscle and staying fit while nursing is difficult, but not impossible.
"When we're breastfeeding our hormones are different," says Bossin-Hardy. "There's a decreased level of estrogen and testosterone—the two major hormones we need to build muscle. Our bodies also produce prolactin , which helps us produce the milk, [while also] encouraging our bodies to store fat."
Storing fat may not be ideal if you're trying to get closer to your pre-pregnancy weight , but there are a few things you can do to feel more in shape. "First, don't rush breastfeeding," says Bossin-Hardy. "Nursing is a wonderful thing if you're able to do it. You'll hit your goals when you're done so enjoy the time with your baby."
It's also important to add exercise into your daily routine and continue moving throughout breastfeeding. In fact, according to Bossin-Hardy, staying consistent with your fitness routine while breastfeeding will help you stay on track with your overall goals.
If you don't have any particular goals or aren't quite sure where to begin, Bossin-Hardy suggests starting with things you enjoy. "Find something you love to do and get moving," she says. "Try kickboxing, yoga , pilates or hiking with a friend. Do whatever. And if you don't have time, [move your body] at the park while your kid is running around. When you find something you enjoy, it's easier to reach your fitness goals while nursing."
It's also just as important to have smaller goals while leading up to a bigger goal. "Start by saying, 'I want to be able to play with my kids in the park without getting tired,'" says Bossin-Hardy. "These tiny goals are motivating and very achievable."
Estrogen and testosterone may limit our ability to build muscle while breastfeeding, but simply moving our bodies, eating healthy and setting realistic expectations will help us along the way. Don't stress it, mama. You've got this.
And remember, if you are feeding your baby formula, breast milk or a mix of both, know that we support you and that you are a good mother.
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