With each of my pregnancies, it was important for me to feel strong and healthy working towards labor and caring for a newborn. I exercised as I found time (more with each pregnancy) and with specific exercises in mind for pregnant moms. With each new baby, I found new ways to also make time for exercise. Some of the time, it meant I took out a stroller or sling and went for a walk with my baby and sometimes with a friend as well. Other times, I was able to find intervals to get away in the evening or morning to try a new yoga class or something fun. And sometimes my schedule and pocketbook also allowed me the time and space to join an exercise class or gym on a more regular basis. I love to bike, swim, walk and get outdoors. I love to feel relaxed after a nice exercise session, although sometimes I have the hardest time heading out that door. Some moms like to stay home and use videos but others really need the comradery of a class and working as a team.
Pregnant and lactating moms benefit from exercise! Discuss with your healthcare provider your specific situation and health. If you are new to exercise, take it slow and build up. It is important for all of us to exercise for physical health and emotional wellness and you can decide how that can be customized for your situation. Exercise helps uplift anyone’s mood but is especially vital for women with post partum blues to exercise on a regular basis. It helps reenergize us all.
One of the things I was always a bit anxious about when my little ones were very small was managing breastfeeding or pumping with taking care of myself and taking time for exercise. It can be challenging to adapt to a new child and new routine, which also corresponds to a gym class and daycare schedule. It can be daunting to consider when we are already feeling so tired! Sometimes it takes creative calendars and agendas to be sure my husband is home for our children so I can get in some space for it. It is very important time for nurturing our body when we are nurturing our children! I have found that as my A, S & Z get older, I am able to both find new flexibility and make sure this is done more often. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t but I sure feel better when I do.
Breastfeeding and pumping is an activity of daily living for this period in your life. Having an active lifestyle doesn’t mean having to give up breastfeeding and breastfeeding should not mean having to give up an active lifestyle.
It is vital for local fitness centers, pools and gyms to have breastfeeding friendly resources for families. Breastfeeding is the healthiest feeding method for mom and baby (your business is health after all). Breastfeeding is legal and encouraged by both federal and state laws in the United States of America and most places around the globe. New families have a lot to stress and exercise helps reduce stress. Having a family friendly gym or pool can help you increase your membership and word of mouth will soon spread about the places that are complimentary to family lifestyle as well as those that don’t.
A great many workouts can be tailored to pregnant or new mom fitness challenges and can be a positive way to outreach in the community and for moms to make friends as well. If baby is welcome in the exercise class, moms can take care of their little ones right on the spot with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding on cue. A great option for very new moms is to have parent/baby classes combined or parent/toddler exercise that incorporates the littlest people in the room. Often, when a baby is very small, they can sit in a little carrier on the side of the room and be taken care of by the watchful and attentive eye of their parent nearby.
The childcare areas can also encourage moms to come and feed their baby as needed by providing comfortable chairs and supportive staff in the gyms. It is important that if you have pumping moms or employees of the center, that they are given a space to pump that has access to a sink and is not a bathroom. Mothers and babies should never be asked to go to a bathroom to eat. If the center is for adults and children and one child is at swim or yoga class for example, the mother should never be asked to cover-up or to go to a separate location for breastfeeding her little one.
Gym owners and managers must take responsibility for making sure their gym or pool employees (trainers, front desk, lifeguards, ALL employees) are trained on the federal and local laws and are always supporting breastfeeding members. It is harassment to ask a mom to stop breastfeeding her baby. Breastfeeding is not the same as having other food in locations where food is not allowed. Some mothers may ask for a private space to breastfeed but they are legally allowed to breastfeed in public and it is not considered indecent exposure.
EXERCISING AND LACTATION
La Leche League International: Exercise and Breastfeeding
San Diego Breastfeeding Center, LLC : Breastfeeding and Exercise – What you need to know
KellyMom: Exercise and Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Law (USA – Federal and State Laws)
Breastfeeding Legislation in the United States: A General Overview and Implications for Helping Mothers
Nursing in Public Hotline 855-NIP-FREE
United States Breastfeeding Committee: Find a State/Territorial/Tribal Breastfeeding Coalition:
What to Do if You’re Harassed While Nursing in Public
NURSING IN PUBLIC
Tips for Breastfeeding in Public – with Confidence!
Nursing in Public
La Leche League International: Breastfeeding in Public http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbpublic.html
FITNESS CENTER MANAGMENT
Family Friendly Business Initiative
Business Case for Breastfeeding
Break Time for Nursing Mothers (pumping provisions)