Running & Nursing

I really wanted to breastfeed my baby for her first year. I’ve always heard how “breast is best” and I was happy that milk came in and I didn’t have any problems breastfeeding.

Alex and Mommy, baby is 6 months old

Alex and me, the day she turned 6-months-old

I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding in general. I like that I don’t have to buy formula and I don’t have tons of bottles to keep clean (just the ones from her daily daycare needs). I like that if it comes right down to it, I have her food with me all the time. And when we have a nice peaceful feeding, I love the cuddling moments and the image of my sweet baby at my chest is forever seared into my brain. (I hope!)

I don’t like that my body is so different due to this, I don’t like leaking and needing nursing pads, I don’t like feeling chained to my baby or my pump a little bit. (I don’t dare leave town without her! Well, Kevin wouldn’t have time to take care of her now anyway if I did leave town without her.) I don’t like that she pulls on the neckline of all my shirts while she eats, stretching them out. I don’t like that some shirts just don’t work very well for nursing, either because they have too much material bunched up when I pull it up, they don’t move very well or they just don’t fit right over my chest these days. I hate nursing bras, I can’t find ones that fit right in the band (they’re all too big, I have a small rib cage) and they don’t create a flattering silhouette. I hate pumping.

But most of all, I don’t like how nursing interacts with running.

I can’t get up super-early in the morning to go for a run because I would have to pump first in order to be comfortable. And then the baby would probably wake up while I’m out running and Kevin would need to feed her. While it might be a good experience for them, so far he’s only tried to feed her a few bottles and my understanding is that it hasn’t gone so well. Anyway, if I can feed her directly… again, it’s fewer bottles and it’s some cuddle time since I miss out on that some with her eating from bottles at daycare.

I have to coordinate run times around nursing/pumping schedules. Just like I hate nursing bras, I hate nursing sports bras too.

But my biggest obstacle has been supply lately, and I’m pretty sure it all correlates to running more mileage and getting sick a few weeks ago.

I’ve heard talk from other running mamas that breastfeeding hunger is way more intense than marathon hunger. And I experienced that for a while, but when I got sick a few weeks ago and spent several days puking my brains out… my appetite has seemed reduced ever since. I don’t feel completely starving all the time anymore.

When I went to the doctor for bronchitis, they had me get on the scale and I broke my cardinal rule of not looking at the weight. I was surprised to see the number on the scale. It was about 7 pounds lower than what I would have assumed and what I know the ob/gyn’s office had down as my pre-pregnancy weight. The number has been haunting and taunting me ever since, I’m starting to become mildly obsessed. And I’ve been somewhat naughty and I’ve stepped on the scale at home a few more times since then. My weight has dropped another 3 pounds.

I’m trying to make sure I boost my protein and healthy fat intake. I don’t want to count calories or track my food… that’s scary territory for me to venture into and I’m positive if I open that door, more ED tendencies will come flooding in. But I just don’t think I’m very good at nourishing my body to support myself, my daughter and my running.

I’ve taken a few steps this week to try to improve things.

1. I haven’t run as much. I have a half marathon in a couple of weeks and I’ve pretty much decided that I’m tapering. (I think, there’s still a part of me that feels guilty about this because it’s a longer taper than I would usually plan for a half.) I have no time goals for the race and right now I’m kind of at the point where I just want to get it out of the way and say I accomplished it. It’s feeling like more of a hassle than excitement to me.

2. I started taking My Brest Friend Fenugreek. Fenugreek is supposed to help boost supply, despite the silly misspelled naming of the company.

3. I bought Mother’s Milk tea from Traditional Medicinals. I don’t really like it, it’s got fennel in it that has kind of a licorice-y taste. And I hate licorice. But it is consuming fluids and serves a medicinal purpose.

4. Hydrating, hydrating, hydrating.

5. Trying to eat more. I’m seriously considering buying some brewers yeast and making lactation cookies. They’re supposed to be full of lactogenic ingredients and it would be more calories. Plus it’s cookies!

The baby has started on solids, it’s been almost a full week. I’m sure her milk consumption will change as she eats more too. But right now she’s only eating a tiny bit of food and I want to make sure I’ve got milk to support her, since that’s still her primary source of fuel. (Yep… I’m a runner. My baby is fueling!)

And the solids arena… well, that may be a whole other post! I feel like I just have more and more questions about that each day! :-)

Moms… have you ever experienced supply issues? Or have you done long-distance running while breastfeeding? Did it cause you any problems? Got any advice for me?

Weigh in! Let me know your thoughts or just say hello!