Today’s Q & A sheds more light on some for these issues
Q: Is it safe to exercise while breastfeeding?
A: YES! After being cleared by your physician of course – usually about 6-8 weeks after delivery. It is imperative that you ease your way into postpartum exercise – do not all of a sudden start running 5miles a day or lifting really heavy weights. Your body has just gone through a trauma and it needs time to heal and to adjust to the new routine – even if you were very active before giving birth. I suggest starting with 15-30 minutes of low-moderate intensity exercise 3-4 times a week for the first few weeks and then gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts.
Q: Do I need to increase my daily calorie intake while breastfeeding?
A: Breast milk production burns about 300-500 calories per day, which is the equivalent of a pretty decent HIIT workout. However, many women still gain weight/have trouble losing weight after childbirth because they are not eating a balanced and healthy diet. During pregnancy your body naturally stores up fat in preparation for breast milk production and these stores will not deplete if you are not active and/or continue to eat empty calories. I personally do not count calories, but I do advice breastfeeding mums to pay more attention to the quality of what they are eating than to the quantity. I recommend eating frequent healthy meals, as your body requires and drinking plenty of water.
Q: Does exercise result in reduced milk supply?
A: NO! As long as you are eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercise should have ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT ON YOUR MILK SUPPLY. It is true that exercise burns calories and breastfeeding also requires calories; so make sure not to short change yourself in the calorie department. I find that many new mothers get so busy that they simply forget to eat, while others are not eating enough food because they are trying to “snap back” quickly. These are the real culprits when it comes to reduced milk supply and not exercise. So fuel your body right and get active!
Q: How long will it take to lose all the baby weight?
A: It takes 9 months to grow a baby, so don’t expect to lose all the baby weight overnight. Your body goes through A LOT of changes during pregnancy. Your hips widen, your skin stretches, fat gets stored and water gets retained and all these must happen in a bid to create a conducive environment to grow a healthy baby and to prepare your body for childbirth and beyond. Everyone’s body is different so don’t compare yourself to others either. It could take weeks for one person to get back to pre-pregnancy weight and months for another. The most important thing is to remain consistent and disciplined.
Mosope Idowu is the founder of bethelfitmum , which caters to busy mums with young children who have limited time and feel overwhelmed by the demands of life, but desire to improve their fitness.