One of the biggest challenges and something I was completely unprepared for during my first year as a mom was how much of a time commitment breastfeeding can be. Before my son was born – I set a goal of breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months until we introduced solid food and then continue until he was a year without formula. After a rough first few weeks, we found a groove and now he’s completely weaned (two days and counting!).
DISCLAIMER: There is a lot of judgment and heated emotions surrounding breastfeeding and formula. I have my personal feelings about it, but everything that I write about is what’s worked for me and I know that every new and seasoned mom has to find what works best for her and her child.
As I’ve previously written, it was extremely important to me to get back into fitness as soon as I was healthy enough after giving birth – both mentally and physically. While I have an incredibly supportive husband who does more than his fair share, a breastfeeding baby just doesn’t care. Fortunately, there are ways to make it all work.
- Be flexible. I prefer to workout first thing in the morning. It’s what I did all during my pregnancy and for at least two years before and a good way to set the tone for the day. Then I don’t stress out at work about if I’m going to have the energy to workout after work. Once I went back to work after maternity leave, I needed to be there in the morning to feed my kid – and then I needed to be there when he got home for some quality time and bedtime feeding. This naturally left after he went to bed as my new workout time. It sucked (literally) – and a lot of times I chose sleep. But a lot of times I didn’t and I always felt better because of it. I knew this schedule was only temporary and I tried to make the best of it.
- Within reason. While that majority of my workouts happened when the little dude was asleep. The one exception was my Saturday morning run group. I saw it as my one time a week where I can totally disconnect and focus on me. The downside is that I had to get up even 30 minutes earlier (5:50 on a Saturday – ouch) to pump, but it was important to me to get my Saturday time in and sustain breastfeeding. I looked forward to this weekly benchmark all week and it helped keep me motivated to stay somewhat consistent during the week. After that, we were able to spend the entire weekend (unless I was able to sneak away for a yoga class while he was napping).
- Follow a schedule. While you can’t avoid the first few months of on-demand feedings, once your baby is old enough (around 4 months), I would highly encourage it if your baby is willing. When the little guy started daycare, they got him on a pretty tight schedule really quick. Being schedule-oriented myself, this was everything – particularly in the later months when I was training for a half marathon so I knew exactly when I needed to be home so I didn’t miss more than one feeding.
While breastfeeding is the ultimate of ultramarathons, it was also one of the most rewarding things I’ve done. I am so proud to say that I navigated a full year of breastfeeding, working full time for 8 months of that year, as well as train and complete a 10-mile race (where I fed my kid at the finish line, no joke) and half marathon. Did I PR at those races? Not even a little. But it made reaching that one-year goal even more rewarding.