My gym buddy disappeared for a week and on her return she told me she could not come because her mother-in-law was visiting them. Apparently, my friend woke up the following morning and started getting ready to go to the gym but she was intercepted byher mother-in-law who sat her down for a long ‘lecture’.
The old woman informed her she was ‘poisoning’ her baby’s milk by working out. Although she did not believe what she was being told, she just stayed away from the gym for that week to please her mother-in-law.
Dr Edward Mugisha from Kabarole Hospital Church of Uganda explains that what ordinary people call ‘poison’ is actually lactic acid in the breast milk which increases when the mother does intense exercises. He is however, quick to note that the milk is in no way harmful for the baby and the acid disappears quickly (approximately one and a half hours) after exercise.
Dr Mugisha encourages breastfeeding mothers to exercise regularly because it helps them build physical strength, lose baby weight, and fight depression.
“Most mothers are eager to lose baby weight and regular exercise is one sure way of doing it without interfering with the milk supply,” he notes.
He urges mothers to start slow and eventually build momentum.
“The first weeks with the baby can be strenuous without adding the pressure of creating time for exercises. Regular walks with the baby can do in the beginning. You can start walking for 20 or 30 minutes depending on your ability. The aim here is to increase the levels of the hormone serotonin which promotes positive feelings and mood. After two months you can start doing more. But before you start, consult your doctor who will assess your body and let you know how much workout you should take on,” Dr Mugisha advises.
Because mothers tend to spend long periods in uncomfortable positions while breastfeeding or carrying their babies, Cissy Nansere, a yoga instructor recommends yoga poses to ease the backache and releasing tension in the shoulders and neck muscles.
Yoga is known for its calming effect on the mind so it will help mothers experiencing insomnia, stress and depression among others. Nansere recommends Pranayama breathing or breath control which helps ease stress and calm the mind, the cat-cow pose which helps in reopening the chest and easing the tension in the spine and the Sphinx pose which helps in strengthening the spine and in reducing lower backache.
One of the most essential items you will need for your workout routine is a supportive bra. Your breasts change throughout the pregnancy and birth journey. Do not rely on your old sports bras as your breasts are now significantly bigger.
A bra with adjustable straps will accommodate the changing size of your breasts throughout your journey. You can also try investing in a nursing sports bra with easy flaps that open when you need to breastfeed or pump.