Postpartum: Starting to Exercise Again
If you are nursing, you may have a new challenge on your hands when it comes time to do more vigorous exercise: breasts that are bigger and more sensitive to jarring and bouncing than they have ever been before. If you plan to do fast walking, jogging, or anything else that causes your breasts to bounce, it is a good idea to invest in a few supportive sports bras that minimize motion by pressing your breasts flat. Wear these bras for exercise only. The pressure they exert can lead to plugged ducts or mastitis if you wear them over longer periods. Also, nurse your baby before you work out. If you time it right, your hungry baby can empty your breasts and be ready for a nice long nap while you exercise.
Some women report that their babies do not like the taste of their milk right after a hard bout of exercise. Lactic acid that builds up during hard exertion can make breast milk bitter, but moderate exercise should not pose this problem. If it does, hand-express or pump off some milk before the postworkout feeding.
A Final Word about Exercise: Do What You Can
If you cannot stick to an exercise program after your baby is born, don't beat yourself up about it. Do what you can and add more when you feel able to. Every little bit you do helps your body move toward a fitter state. If, however, you are not exercising and find that you are feeling excessively tired or depressed, your body hurts, you are constantly getting sick, or you are gaining weight postpartum, keep in mind that exercise has healing effects on all of these symptoms. Remember that this isn't an all-or-nothing proposition, and let it be a natural part of your daily life.
More on: Adjusting to New Motherhood
From A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health by Dean Raffelock, Robert Rountree, and Virginia Hopkins with Melissa Block. Copyright © 2002 by Dr. Dean Raffelock. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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