When I wrote last week about postpartum running, I didn’t write about being an exclusively breastfeeding mom and what that looked like to train and run hard for a race. I had a few requests to write about this particular subject so here it is. If you could care less about this then feel free to skip out. I’ll just plan on seeing you on Monday with a yummy post!!
Number one priority with training for the half marathon this last April was to do it smartly and to still be able to breastfeed exclusively. If my milk supply started to drop, I would have backed out of training and the race in a heartbeat. Little known fact that most people don’t know, I originally signed up to run the full marathon and dropped back to the half because it logistically wasn’t going to work for me being a new mom and breastfeeding. It’s ok for your goals to change, take a little longer to achieve or be placed on the list for you to think about at a total different time.
Here are the logistics I went through on a daily basis with making sure I kept my milk supply up and was able to train without missing feedings.
- Calorie intake was key. I ate anything and everything and tried to ingest as many good carbs, lean proteins and good fats as I could. That even meant making a couple batches of my lactation cookies to balance everything out.
- I woke up most training days at 6 a.m., pumped and ran outside to meet my two girlfriends for our training run. We would train for about a hour, I’d hop in the shower and by that time little Archie bear was up and going around 8 a.m. and ready for his breakfast milk.
- Keep in mind this was when Archie was 3 to 6.5 months old and my milk supply replaced itself rather quickly so he would still have plenty of milk to drink after my run. These days I wouldn’t be able to pump that early and still have enough for him to be satisfied in the morning because he’s such an efficient milk drinker and my body has adjusted to making only what it needs and I haven’t pumped after I’ve fed him in probably two months. Gone are the days where I could still pump 2-4 oz after he drank in the morning.
- I drank tons of water. Enough said.
- Some of our long runs got tricky because Archie was still on a consistent 3 hour schedule and would breastfeed for a total of 20-30 minutes each time. So I would literally have about a 2 hour gap to get a long run in, get home and be ready for Archie again. So I would be dressed and ready to leave the house as soon as I fed him before my long run. We would run our long distance and as soon as I would get back home he’d be ready to eat again. It was sort of insane for that time period of training but totally worth it to be able to go in between feedings and stay home with daddy.
- The morning of the race, I woke up a little earlier, pumped and then daddy gave him a bottle. My body was totally ready to feed him as soon as I crossed the finish line so after I met up with Chad, snapped some pictures, we walked to the car and I immediately hopped in the backseat to feed him.
- I talked a little bit about my fear of not making enough milk to keep up with Archie when I wrote out my recipe for my lactation cookies. I definitely had moments to where I tried to amp up my supply while training just to make sure I wasn’t depriving him of the nutrition he needed. So there were many a time that I pumped after each feeding and then again around 10 or 11 pm to trick my body into thinking it needed to make more milk. Looking back, I might not have needed to do that but my milk supply stayed up so I can’t complain.
- I’m not going to lie, breastfeeding, having a newborn and training for a race is hard. I’m sort of an overachiever so I wanted to accomplish my goal and do it well. But I literally would not have been able to do this on my own. Chad was amazing at supporting me during crazy training hours and helping with Archie in any ways he could even after a long morning of leading worship or a long day at the office, and my two friendlies, Allie and Kate, were so flexible with Archie’s schedule. What friends who don’t have kids get up at the crack of dawn or run later at night to train with a crazy, new, breastfeeding momma because that was what was best for my schedule? I am forever grateful and look back on those runs with the fondest memories of talking, having accountability, laughing and being like sisters.
- Bottom line for me to remember if I ever train for a race when I have a newborn again is that I made sure I didn’t miss Archie drinking directly from the tap. A pump never gets as much out as direct latching so I will try and do everything, scheduling runs wise, to work around his schedule. So if that means pushing a run up or back by 30 minutes then that’s what I’ll do. He was top priority and I’m glad I kept it that way. As much as I love running, I love my babe more and that was always something to remember.
So you can see, training is totally possible. But maybe you truly don’t feel like you can train for a distance like a half marathon but nothing says you can’t run 5k’s, 5 milers or 10k’s. Do what’s right for you. And if that’s taking a season off from training hard then that’s ok. Remember, there is grace! Our babies are only little for so long so it’s all up to what your priorities are. Don’t worry about living up to what you think everyone expects of you. You do you. The End.
Breastfeeding runner momma’s, what are your tips that you found helpful with working for you and your family?