BY TEAM MEMBER: Heather Jones, Director of Prenatal/Postpartum Services, Doula, Midwife & Personal Trainer…She is awesome in other words 😉
August 1st to 8th is World Breastfeeding Week! Celebrating and supporting those who choose to and are able to breast or chest feed is so important, we want to give it some love and attention this week.
First, a little tidbit of my personal experience with breastfeeding, cause ya know, I could talk about myself forever! I was very fortunate to have a smooth and relatively easy time breastfeeding both of my kids; except for some sore nipple issues at first and the odd blocked duct, I never ran into any problems! I know it’s often not that easy and so I am truly grateful for the lack of bumps along the road.
I nursed my son, Caimen, until he was two years and eight months old and he weaned himself cold turkey one night – it was bittersweet as I wasn’t expecting it, but I was also ready to stop at that point. With my daughter, Coral, I nursed her for three years and eight months and although I never had any physical issues with breastfeeding her, she also never took a soother or a bottle and was WAY more obsessed with nursing than Caimen was. I was the only one who could put her to sleep until she was 2.5!!! That was rough, not gonna lie. I made the decision to wean her when she was almost four (it went better than expected, but she still put up a huge fight!) and believe me, if it were up to her, she would still be nursing now, at almost 5 years old.
Ok, enough about me and my boobs! I also want to share some important and interesting info about things to consider if you’re producing milk that you may not know! Here it goes:
- You’ve all probably heard that milk production burns calories, but do you know how much? Feeding a child breastmilk exclusively (that means no formula or solid foods) burns approximately 500-700 calories per day!! That’s the equivalent to one large or two small MEALS that most people eat in one day. WOWZA! Make sure you’re eating enough calories to sustain your milk production, as being in too deep of a caloric deficit (burning more calories than you consume) can negatively affect your milk supply.
- Proper nutrition is also important! Don’t worry about your milk; your body will fill it with all of the exact, perfect number of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your baby needs – but what if you’re not eating right? Where do those nutrients come from? They come from YOUR RESERVES, people! For example: not getting enough calcium in your diet? Your body will resorb calcium from YOUR BONES and put it in your milk. Eek! Make sure you’re eating enough variety in your diet to obtain all of the nutrients that you need for both you and your baby.
- Have you heard of the hormone called ‘relaxin’? It’s something we produce during pregnancy to help our
pelvis stretch during a vaginal delivery – super helpful, right?! Yes, except that what lots of people DON’T know, is that it’s not specific to our pelvis, and it affects ALL of our joints, making them more lax and flexible than normal. This increases our risk of injury while relaxin levels are high. The SECOND thing that many people don’t know is that relaxin levels remain elevated for up to a year after the baby is born, AND for as long as we’re producing milk!!! Holy cow! This is important info to know regarding prenatal and postpartum exercise, and one of the reasons we need to take it easy/slow during these times and avoid high impact exercises to reduce our chances of injury.
- Strap those suckers down!! Breast and chest tissue gain body fat during pregnancy (part of prenatal weight gain is caloric reserves for milk production. So cool!) AND the mammary glands grow and produce milk (first colostrum and then eventually milk). In general, if people wear a bra, they generally grow enough to move ‘up’ 2-4 sizes. I went from a 34A before pregnancy to a 38D while breastfeeding!! It’s important to wear proper supportive clothing if you engage in exercise as you will find it MUCH more comfortable and your back will thank you too!
- That being said, you don’t want to be wearing clothing that is super tight and restrictive on your breasts/chest for too long – that’s because the pressure on your tissues can cause a restriction in milk flow, which can then lead to blocked ducts. Ouch! They hurt (a lot) and if not cleared, can also lead to an infection in the duct and tissues called mastitis. Trust me, you want to avoid it if you can! A simple way to avoid this is to change out of a tight sports bra or top once you’re done exercising.
I hope you learned something! Any questions?! I’m happy to talk more with you so don’t be shy.