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Advice on cycling while breastfeeding your baby
Can you cycle while breastfeeding your baby? Certainly not if it's at the same time!! That would be dangerous and downright irresponsible.
But if you're breast feeding your child and considering cycling as a way to get fit, get around or have fun, then the answer is a big, resounding "YES".
Here are my top tips on cycling if you're breastfeeding your child.
Cycling after childbirth
Cycling is a great way to lose those post pregnancy pounds, and is much better than running for a breast feeding mum, when there is a risk you could get knocked out due to excessive bouncing if feeding time is due!
It's important your body is ready to start cycling after you've had your baby, and everyone will have a different recovery time, based on their birth experience and general fitness levels. Check with your GP or midwife that you're ready to start cycling, and always listen to your body.
If you experience any bleeding or pain, stop cycling and consult your doctor - likewise if you weren't a regular exerciser before getting pregnant, or have never cycled before, take medical advice.
A few tips I found useful for those first bike rides out after having my two babies were:
- Consider the time you'll be in the saddle, especially on your first few rides out after the birth
- Feed your baby before you set off on your ride, so your breasts don't leak whilst you're out
- Invest in a good sports bra. Your pre-pregnancy bras won't fit if you're feeding and it's worth getting a personal fitting to ensure best fit. Choose an un-wired model, to avoid blocking the milk ducts.
- Keeping hydrated is especially important if you're feeding, so take a water bottle with you.
- You need more calories if you're cycling while breastfeeding, so remember to take adequate snacks, to keep energy levels up
There's lots more good advice on preparing to cycle after child birth on the Total Women's Cycling website
Cycling while breastfeeding your baby
If you're cycling with a very young one in a trailer or a cargo bike, a great advantage of breast feeding is you don't have to carry bottles with you. You can also get carried away and cycle further than planned and not have to worry about getting back for the next feed.
Just be aware that sports bras aren't very good for feeding. If you're on a leisurely ride, then a standard breastfeeding bra will probably be OK as they tend to be supportive. For serious training rides, you're better off using a sports bra, and planning feeds around your ride.
If you're using a front or rear bike seat your child is probably on solids, but if you're also breast feeding it's always good to know there is added refreshment available if you get carried away and won't be home in time for the next meal.
What sort of cycling is possible while breast feeding?
When my eldest, N, was about 7 months old I crazily decided to sign up for my first ever triathlon. Probably something about still having the ability to do something other than be a Mummy. I did 5 months of training on the bike whilst still breast feeding him. Whilst I needed extra calories, and a good sports bra, there was nothing about breast feeding that stopped me from training. I just made sure my breasts were empty, either through feeding or expressing before setting out on a training ride, run or swim. I stopped breast feeding about 2 months before the triathlon, after 5 months of training whilst feeding.
The triathlon itself was amazing, and the sense of achievement I felt when crossing the finishing line was incredible. I'd managed to do something challenging and new, whilst a new mum!
18 months later, when T was born, I already knew I'd have to do another triathlon. This time I was still breast feeding on the day of the Triathlon, as were the two friends I entered with. We joked at the time we should have done a publicity article for breastfeeding!
As well as the training, whilst I was breastfeeding I also made lots of short, local journeys by bike, with a childrens rear bike seat. I was a great and cheap way to get around. I also enjoyed cycling with the family at the weekend.
So if you're thinking of cycling while breast feeding give it a go - it's great fun and you get to keep fit at the same time.
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