Breastfeeding and Endurance Sports

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I’ve gotten a ton of emails, comments, and messages from readers asking how I am managing to breastfeed while Ironman training.  I am not going to sugar coat this post and pretend that I am doing all of this training while happily and easily breastfeeding without any issues or concerns. SO not the case. Juggling both is hard.  I do a lot of things on a regular basis to ensure I have enough milk. And as my husband can account to, I am often stressing out about how much milk I am providing for the little guy.

I’ve had issues with supply (which I discuss below) and it’s almost a daily fight to keep the supply up.  But, here I am – just over 4 weeks away from my first Ironman and still exclusively breastfeeding my 9 month old son.  If nothing else, I hope this post shows that breastfeeding CAN be done while training for long distance events like marathons and even an Ironman. Yes, it takes a bit more time and energy to maintain a healthy supply, but it 100% can be done if you are determined and make yourself as knowledgeable as you can about breastfeeding.

I wrote a post about breastfeeding and training for/running an ultra about 18 months ago.  My oldest son was 10 months old when I crossed the finish line of that race.  I continued to nurse him until he weaned himself at 15 months (which was perfect timing since I was 4 months pregnant with #2 at the time).  I had virtually no issues with my milk supply during that time. Some of what I discussed in the post still is true.  Some things are totally different.

NYC Marathon4

Crossing the finish line at the 2011 NYC Marathon

Why is it different this time? I didn’t consistently do long runs of 12+ miles until my oldest son was about 6 months old (first 20+ miler was when he was over 8 months old) – most runs up until that point were fairly easy-paced and typically under 90 minutes.  I didn’t begin serious training for the NYC Marathon and the 60k until he was 7 months old. He was already well on his way to eating solids and was a consistent eater right off the bat – so supply was  not a HUGE issue for me.  I noticed a decrease in my supply when he was around 9/10 months but it was likely more a function of his increasing desire for solids and shortly thereafter, began incorporating whole milk into his diet (when he was about a year old maybe?) as a way to supplement breastfeeding.

60k3

First ultra marathon

With my second son, I did my first 10-miler at 5 weeks postpartum (pp), first 14+ miler at 3 months pp and first 20 miler at 4 1/2 mo pp (by which point I was averaging close to 50 mi/week).  The intensity of a few runs a week were also much higher this time around (beginning when he was 10 weeks old).

So long story short, I was running longer and harder at a much earlier point pp.  And my milk supply was seriously affected.

However, after lots of research, talking to friends/family who are well versed in breastfeeding, making some changes to feeding/pumping, and seeing a lactation specialist, I am still exclusively breastfeeding. I’ve been asked why I don’t transition to formula or supplement breastfeeding to save myself from the time and energy to keep my supply up.  Of course it would be easier in the short term to do that (Note: if you begin to supplement with formula, your milk supply will naturally decrease because the “demand” for your milk will be lower).  But, my plan with both boys was/is to breastfeed them for at least a year.  For me, that takes priority over my athletic goals. {I’m not saying that formula is wrong or that I am against it.  But, I truly love breastfeeding and feel that bf’ing them for a year is the best decision for my family.}

Ryan5

So before I talk about what I am currently doing to keep my milk supply up, I feel that some discussion needs to happen regarding how I knew that my supply was decreasing in the first place – basically some of the warning signs for me that things were headed in the wrong direction.

Signs that my milk supply was decreasing: (they all started popping up when he was about 5 months old – which was when I was really ramping up my marathon training – and had just started swimming in preparation for Ironman Lake Placid)

  • Amount Pumped: When I have early AM workouts, I pump as soon as I get up so that there is milk for him in case I am not home. The amount of milk I was able to produce gradually decreased by over 3 oz from when he was close to 4 months until he was almost 5 1/2 months.  This wasn’t just one or two mornings with a decrease in milk – it was a gradual decrease over the span of about 6-7 weeks.  {Note: The amount you pump is NOT indicative of how much milk your child would be getting if you were bf’ing them, but the fact that what I was expressing was significantly less after a period of time was a tell-tale sign that it was decreasing.}
  • Sleeping: My son began waking up 3-4x/night to nurse.  He was hungry and not just waking up because he was having a period of wakefulness.
  • Bottle Feedings: My mom babysat the boys in March.  He drank double the amount of milk I had anticipated AND slept 10 hours straight.  {Note: I know there are factors that could go into this but it seemed like he was always hungry and willing to take a bottle during this period.}
  • Always seemed hungry: After I would finish feeding him from both sides, he would still be looking for more. I had no milk left so we would then feed him a bottle of 3-6 oz from milk that I had frozen when he was a bit younger – and he would drink (demolish) the whole bottle.
  • Weight Loss: My son actually lost an ounce from his 5 month to his 6 month appointment – a definite red flag for both me and the doctor.  He is an extremely active little guy (he was crawling at 4 months), so that could have slowed the weight gain…but losing weight (even an ounce) at that age was cause for concern.  After this appointment, I felt so guilty and sick to my stomach.

One or two of these may not necessarily be indicative of a decrease in your milk, but we were experiencing all five at the same time, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that my milk supply was tanking. The weight loss was the final straw for me…I needed to work on increasing my supply.

Steps I took: 

  • I went to see a lactation specialist shortly after my son’s 6 month checkup.  She gave me several things I could try to increase my supply (more on that below).
  • Lots of reading and research to see if I was pumping when I should, feeding as often as I should, etc.  My two sons were totally different babies when it came to breatfeeding – my oldest wanted to nurse every hour. My youngest would probably go all day without whining to eat AND he gets really distracted by his older brother when he is eating so I have to be really diligent with staying on top of how often and how much he eats (it’s hard for me to find a quiet place to nurse because I don’t want to leave my 2 y/o completely alone to find the little guy.)
  • Spoke to several friends and family members who had breastfed or were experts in the field.

Maintaining my milk supply is a struggle, but one that is manageable.  I know that after a weekend of hard, long training or racing that I will see a drop in my supply in the days immediately following.  The human body is amazing, but expecting it to produce the same amount of milk after a 6 hour bike ride, 4,000 yard swim, and 22 mile run (over the course of 2 days) is pushing it.  But, there are a few steps that I take to immediately work on increasing my supply back up to where it should be.

How do I increase  / maintain my supply? {Note: I am not a lactation specialist nor an expert in this field – these are simply the steps I take to ensure my body is producing the right amount of milk for my son.}

  • Brewer’s Nutritional Yeast: I add 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of Brewer’s Yeast to my yogurt 4-5x/week (or more if I feel I need it).  I am not really fond of the way this tastes, so I find mixing in some granola to the yogurt helps the consistency and flavor.  At the very least, I use brewer’s yeast at least 1x/day for the first few days after a hard training weekend.  Some friends have tried this and have not seen an increase in their milk, but it has worked for me. AND, it’s nutritionally loaded with 18 essential amino acids while providing high levels of iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, potassium and chromium.  Win-Win! 

brewers

  • Raspberry Leaf Tea: This was a recommendation from my lactation specialist.  I have used it a few times when my supply seems to be really, really low.
  • Change sides: I am constantly taking my son off of one side and putting him on the other in the middle of feedings.  While this sometimes irritates and annoys him, it tricks my body into thinking it needs more milk {tip from my lactation specialist}.
  • Pump at night/during naps: I nurse my son to sleep (naps and at bedtime). Immediately after he is asleep, I pump. I don’t get a lot of milk but it is another way to trick my body into thinking it needs more milk.
  • Breastfeed over bottle:  I pump before I go on a run, bike ride, or swim and would often have my husband finish giving my son the bottle even after I returned home. This was a HUGE mistake. I basically choose brestfeeding him over pumping and/or bottle now.  While pumping mimics breastfeeding (and can help increase the supply if used in addition to breastfeeding), choosing to pump more frequently can actually decrease your supply because it’s not completely the same as breastfeeding. {more info here}
  • Breastfeed more often: I breastfeed my little guy almost every hour to 90 minutes when I am with him. It’s very often considering he is 9 months old, but the very act of breastfeeding alone will increase your milk supply. {more info here} (Note: this is fairly easy for me to do since I am a stay-at-home mom – would be much more difficult for working moms)
  • Get creative: Last month, I did a 5 hour ride on the trainer.  I brought my pump down with me and pumped while I was on the bike.  I was easy pedaling but was happy that I didn’t have to completely get off the bike and rest for the 7-10 minutes it would take. Immediately after I was done, I would call my husband from my cell phone and he would come down to take up the bottle of milk.
  • Breastfeed / Pump as close to leaving for workout as you can: I get up at 3:45-4am 6 days/week.  I drink my coffee, get dressed and am basically ready to leave 30 minutes before I plan to leave.  I sometimes nurse my son in his sleep (he briefly wakes up) from one side and then pump from the other (if I don’t nurse him, I pump from both sides). As soon as I finish, I leave.  When I return, I often feed him as soon as I walk in the door (after cleaning myself off).  This minimizes the gap in nursing/pumping if I am gone 2-3 hours.
  • Talked it over: I called my older sister {who nursed her daughter until she was 2+ and is nursing her 6 wk old son} on multiple occasions crying and concerned.  She is extremely well-read and knowledgeable in breastfeeding and was able to give me some of the above tips.  Seek other breastfeeding mamas, other moms who are juggling breastfeeding with training.  Don’t go it alone.
  • Monitoring my Caloric/Nutritional Intake:  Ironman training + Breastfeeding means I need to consume a lot of {good, healthy} calories to keep me fueled for my training and maintain a healthy body weight.  I weigh myself a couple of times a week (including before/after/at night of a long training day) to ensure that my weight is remaining fairly consistent.  I consume roughly 3,000-3,500 calories/day during the week and upwards of 4,500 calories on the weekend when I’m spending over 10-12 hours of training.  The food I eat also has to be nutritionally potent – I focus on good fats and protein mixed with carbs (avocados, natural peanut butter, fruits, lean meat, whole wheat bread and pasta, fruit smoothies, etc). I plan on doing a post on what I eat to fuel Ironman training + breastfeeding!
Dinner2

Salmon, Baked sweet potato, broccoli – only ingredients used = sea salt + pepper

snack

Smoothie: banana, blackberry, cocoa, milk, ice

eggs

Breakfast: 2 eggs w/ pepper jack cheese + avocado + hot sauce

  • Training comes second: As much as I would love to have a continuous long bike ride or true brick where I go from bike to running within a minute, I sacrifice that in order to pump and/or breastfeed my son.  During this past Saturday’s 100 miler, I pumped once – just past the 60 mile mark (just over 3 hours).  It’s a bit longer than I typically go in the early AM (I often feed him when he gets up around 7/7:30 and it was already 8:30), but doing that once or twice a week will not tank your supply.  However, I am mindful of this and just make sure that I take extra steps to get the supply back on the right track.  Also, since many have already asked, I will be stopping at least 2x during the Ironman in 4 weeks to pump.  I haven’t made a decision when, but I’m leaning towards after the first bike loop and during T2.  Will keep you updated!

100 miler2

  • Relaxing and not stressing as much: Studies have shown that the more stressed out you are, the less milk your body will produce.  When all of the signs began pointing to a decrease in milk, panic set in.  I was literally freaking out every morning when I pumped…which was not helping the situation.  Even just allowing myself the 10 minutes it takes to eat my yogurt with granola and brewer’s yeast in the morning gives me 10 minutes to relax.

I’m happy to say that after a few months of going through my “emergency” supply in the freezer, I am back to adding to it on a daily basis.  There is now almost two full bags of frozen milk (about 75 oz).  It’s not a ton, but it’s enough for me to not stress out that there won’t be enough milk if I have to leave him for a few hours. And the best part is that he no longer needs that milk on a daily basis. (Note: There have been a few instances in the last 2-3 months where I have given him a bottle after nursing him because he still seems hungry, but those instances are rare now).

My biggest piece of advice if you are committed to continue breastfeeding while you train for an endurance sport is to not give up.  If you really want to continue to breastfeed, don’t quit at the first sign of trouble with your supply.  There are things you can try that may help increase it.  And there is a ton of helpful information available (see below).  I’m also here if you have any questions, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

Resources

* Note: I am NOT a lactation specialist – this post is not meant to give official tips on breastfeeding – it is merely my account of breastfeeding, training, and things that I do to keep my supply up!

Have you trained for an endurance event while breastfeeding?

Do you have any tips to add?

    Related posts:

    50 thoughts on “Breastfeeding and Endurance Sports

    1. Thank you for writing this post! I know it has been a few years since you posted it, but there just doesn’t seem to be a ton out there on Ironman training and breastfeeding. I’m doing my second IM in 6 weeks (IM Arizona) and am still breastfeeding my 17 month old. Wondering how the actual pumping during the race went, and if you used an electric or manual. I didn’t expect that I would still be breastfeeding at this point, and now I am trying to figure out the logistics of pumping during the race. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!

    2. Thank you so much for sharing!! I love your last paragraph especially…don’t give up! Us women have been given an amazing ability/gift to nurture your precious babes and be serious athletes. Best wishes to you!!

    3. So glad I found this post! I have a six-month-old and I am 9 weeks away from Challenge Penticton (formerly known as IM Canada). I am breastfeeding 95% of the time, but I have had so many issues with milk supply that I bought formula for the one day a week that I am out on 6-7 hour training rides. Since I work from home, I am not currently pumping (though it’s also due to the fact that I have barely anything extra to pump) and I was starting to stress that maybe I would just have to give up and switch to formula for race day. Thanks to your post – and to many of the women who have commented – I am now determined to find a way to stick with it.

    4. Thank you for this post!! It’s nice to know there are other moms struggling with ironman training while breastfeeding. I did an ironman 2 years ago when my daughter was 14 months old and didn’t have many issues with keeping supply up while training, but I now have a 5 month old and have ramped up my training for IM Louisville this fall. Part of it started at the Boston marathon last month. I had planned to bring my pump to the race start but they didn’t allow any bags brought out to Hopkinton. I was vey uncomfortable by the end of the race. Did you do all your bike miles on your trainer while training? I usually do an out and back while riding and not sure how I’d be able to bring a pump with me. I love the fact that you were able to pump while on your trainer 😉

      • Sara!
        WOW – you are amazing! Boston and now IM training with such a little one! I would love to stay in touch with you about this – I am actually working on something and would love to be able to use you as a reference and/or share your story!
        I did the early rides on the trainer – it was still a bit cold in NY when I started so riding outdoors was out. Once I transitioned to outside, I would often do out and back loops and come in and feed him and pump. It was a pain b/c I want to ride continuously but I had to do it once I reached distances over 60 miles. I found that if I left really early in the AM, I would pump before hand and then I could be gone about 3.5 hours before things started to feel uncomfortable. I tried to always make it past the halfway point of however far I was riding (the longest I did was 105 so for that ride I think I went to 60 miles before coming home – it was just a mental thing for me to know that I was more than halfway done!). And then I would return after the ride, bf and pump again and then do the short run (3-4 miles). Obviously no ideal b/c I would stop a few times, but I found it helped keep my supply up and also prevented me from being so uncomfortable!

        Best of luck to you with your training – I am so impressed!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..North Face Mountain Athletic Training AppMy Profile

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    6. First off, I love your website. im a new mom (son is now 4.5 months), exclusively breastfeeding/pumping, working full time and training for a half iron. I was a marathoner prior to pregnancy, ran through my whole pregnancy (until I was hit by a car in cross walk at 30 weeks…that’s a story for another day). I’m excited to be training for my first tri (doing an Olympic first in may and then the half iron in june- my son will 6 and 7 months, respectively). I know you said you pumped during your full iron…how exactly did you accomplish that? I was hoping to get away with just pumping right before my race and immediately right after. In the car at the race? I will also be away from my son for the half iron (ill be gone for 4 days). I have some milk in the freezer…but I’m worried my hubby wont have enough while I’m gone. On another note- have you tried tailwind nutrition for your endurance races/training?…I LOVE IT!) Thanks for all your help and inspiration!

      • Hi Heather! First off – oh my gosh! I am so sorry to hear you were hit – and especially while pregnant! I hope you were okay :/
        Second, congrats on your new little arrival! So exciting! Hope mommyhood is treating you well!!
        So, for the Ironman, pumping was super easy – they had female-only tents (and then male-only) in transition so I was able to pop in there – I kept one pump (I borrowed my sister’s old one and then just tossed the milk) in each transition bag (for Ironman’s you have different bags for every transition). I pumped after the swim and after the bike.

        For the half-ironman, I just went the whole time without pumping. It wasn’t entirely comfortable but I felt like 6ish hours would be okay. My husband and son were at the finish line and I immediately went into the car, cleaned up as best as I could and pumped (I was in a good amount of pain).
        If you feel like you will definitely want to pump (or maybe just in case you are in some pain), consider having it in your transition bag and then doing it after the bike (the swim will be short so I would think you would be okay to just pump before and then after the bike). You could also email the race director and ask about a tent or some other location where you can pump in some sort of privacy. I’m sure there is a medial tent that you can pop into or something so you don’t have to do it in front of spectators and other competitors.
        Have you considered pumping at night after your little guy goes to sleep? I found that the easiest way for me to increase my supply was pumping right before I would go to sleep. I would usually get a few ounces – usually 2-4. Not a ton, but enough where if you do it for a couple of months, you could build a nice little stash (better to be safe than sorry, right? LOL).

        I hope this helps – let me know if you have any other questions! Best of luck with mommyhood, training and your racing!! =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Life Lately + Entering TaperMy Profile

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    8. Thank you so much for all the great info!
      I am 3 months away from my first IM and my son is 8 months old and breastfeed. I had haven’t had problems with my supply but I’m getting nervous about pumping on race day. If you weren’t worried about your supply do you think you would still pump twice on race day?
      Thanks again:)

      • AMY! I am so sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I keep comments that I want to respond to in my inbox and completely lost track of this one!
        So huge congrats on breastfeeding and training for an IM !! I know how tough it is =)
        To be totally honest, I wasn’t that worried about supply during the IM – the pumping was more out of necessity b/c of how full I got b/c of the lack of pumping or nursing. I began to feel a lot of pressure the last two hours of the ride and so definitely had to pump during the transition. Ideally, if there is a way you could nurse your son before and then maybe pump at the halfway point of the bike and run, it might be better. My biggest issue was that the pump was not working (silly batteries) and so I didn’t get a chance to fully empty during the first transition. It had already been about 4 hours and then I had to go another almost 7 on the bike. It was painful. Maybe plan for 2 and then if you feel okay, skip one of the pumping (or nursing) times. At the very least, pump sometime before (or in middle of run). Riding with full breasts was painful but I can’t imagine having to run in the same condition – would probably be too painful!
        If you have any other questions, please let me know! Best of luck with the rest of your training and HUGE wishes to you with the Ironman!! =) Please let me know how it goes!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..What is Glycogen Depletion Training?My Profile

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    10. It is so comforting and encouraging to read about another mom going through the same issues. I also have two boys and preggo with boy #3. This is the longest I have run in a pregnancy at 20 weeks and I would like to continue running. I also had issues with milk supply when training for marathons with my other two. Thanks for all your great advice and sharing your experiences with balancing running and being a mom.

    11. thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! You are so inspiring, and very REAL. I love that. I was starting to doubt whether I could continue to bf and train for my 1/2 Iron and I feel so much better now. THANK YOU.

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    13. This post could not have come at a better time. My training buddy (who also just had her first baby) forwarded the link to your blog after I called her in tears because my little one had not gained enough weight to suit our doctor at her 4 month appointment. Th doctor gave me a dirty look when I told him I was tri training (I didn’t dare tell him it was for a full IM). I first felt incredibly guilty that my training was taking a toll on my daughter, but I quickly decided I would prove that it could be done. Your post just strengthened my resolve to continue bf-ing AND training. Thanks so much for the info!

    14. this is such amazing information! Thank you for sharing :) I’m just starting to train for my 5th half in October now 14 weeks pp and have been worried about supply/training – so very helpful :)

      also: YOU are amazing! I love being inspired by mamas like you who train their butts off while balancing motherhood :) Proof that it doesn’t have to be one or the other as so many have told me since i started running again a few weeks ago :)

    15. I am a lactation consultant and I must say you have done a heck of a job nursing your kiddos! I will be using this post to inspire other breastfeeding mamas. It is so empowering for woman to know they don’t have two “choose” between life’s activities and breastfeeding. Life doesn’t stop when you have a baby, it just gets sweeter (and busier!).

    16. This was a great post! I found it while googling “breastfeeding during Ironman” today – haha. I am due at the beginning of November but just signed up for my 2nd Ironman today – IMTX next May. I was wondering how I was going to manage breastfeeding/pumping during training and racing. Lots of handy tips!
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    17. As a newbie triathlete & fitness buff (1 year of consistent workouts, 2 sprint triathlons & 40 pounds lighter) I have found my passion & calling & started making inquiries into education programs for motherhood & wellness. There’s very little out there on nursing & fitness, and as far as I can find no degree programs which focus on wellness in motherhood (fitness & nutrition while pg or bf & mental health/parenting skills).

      This makes the community support aspect of motherhood critical. The more we can learn & share with one another the healthier and happier we’ll be. So glad your blog popped up on my google search for ‘training while breastfeeding’ last May.

    18. Awesome! I trained for a half IM that I raced when my baby had just turned one. What made it a bit hard was how he would not take a bottle of pumped milk — ever! Since my workouts weren’t super long with just a half, it wasn’t too bad, but I did most long rides on the trainer with breaks to nurse him. The 7 hours I was gone getting to the race, , racing, and back to him was the longest I’d ever gone, and I was FULL! But I didn’t notice until I was finished, what with all the pains of racing 😉 And btw I did take some fenugreek and made my version of lactation cookies just in case.
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    19. Good for you! I nursed both of my sons for over a year, and it is the best thing you can do for your babies! Keep up the great work!

    20. Well written and very informative Michelle! I love that you are showing that while being mama is #1 priority, you can be active and training hard at the same time. There isn’t much information out there like this so THANK YOU for sharing and being a great example!
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    21. GREAT post!! I actually have some questions (I definitely think my supply has lowered, but I think it’s just because she doesn’t eat as much??). What do you freeze your milk in? Do you have the 75oz separated so that it’s easy enough to defrost if you need?

      I seriously only have about 5 oz frozen and haven’t needed to use it yet (it’s more for an emergency, but I’m with my daughter majority of the time anyways!), but I think I should freeze more sometimes, so I can get out, just me, if I need to!

      I try and feed her before I go for runs too. It might be more of a selfish reason so that my boobs aren’t full of milk, but it also puts me at ease knowing she isn’t hungry while I’m gone!!
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    22. Awesome post and full of such great information.

      I didn’t start running until after nursing my 2nd baby for a year, but I now have a 6 week old and I’m just starting the breastfeeding/running/pumping game! I don’t plan on running another marathon until my son is at least 1, but I do plan on running several halfs and I’m already wondering how I’m going to juggle pumping and fueling. It’s definitely going to be a learning experience!

      I don’t really have much to add, but I do love how committed you are to both nursing and your training. I personally think that breastfeeding is a sport all on it own!
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    23. Thank you for posting this, Michelle! I’m expecting my first baby right now and I have been really stressing about running/training because I am hoping and planning to exclusively breastfeed.

    24. This is such a great post, Michele! I struggled a bit with my milk supply when my daughter was 4-6 months old and she also lost an ounce at one of those appointments and I felt SO guilty and stressed- I definitely understand! And I wasn’t even training for a marathon, ultra or ironman… it was simply picking up my running to 20-30 miles/week. But I used a lot of the same tips you mentioned and was also able to get my supply back up and bfed until about 14 months.
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    25. Such a great and informative post!! Breastfeeding my kids was one of my favorite parts of their baby years. I don’t know if you drink at all, but just having a bottle of beer once and awhile really helped to get my supply going. (meaning, 2-3 a month, I wasn’t attending keggers and bf’ing 😉
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    26. Great post! I keep meaning to write up something about this but never have. I think it’s awesome how you’ve prioritized nursing. So many women assume that it must just be easy for those who are committed to doing it. All of my babies have been different but my commitment to nursing them has stayed firm. I never trained for an IronMan while nursing (OR EVER!) but I have run 2 marathons and several 20+ milers all the while nursing full-time. My milk actually came in during one of my marathons which made me think I must be pretty well hydrated.

      For some reason my milk supply went up with each baby. It’s like my body knew what to do and sometimes I felt like I was producing for twins. I know many women would love to have that problem so I tried to be thankful although wearing nursing pads until my son was 1 and having milk come in all the time was a little much. I weaned Ashton last summer so it’s been almost a year now since my last baby nursed. There were many times I had to remind myself that in the big scheme of things being “tied down” by nursing exclusively for 12-18 months with each baby was not too much to ask of myself. Now that the nursing chapter of my life is over I have very good memories and no regrets. Great job sticking with it and ensuring that your little man is getting enough of what he needs. :-) I know it’s hard work now but you will be so glad you did this!
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    27. Thanks so much for writing this! I can totally relate to how stressful and all-consuming it can be trying to make sure you keep up your supply while striving to reach other goals. Nursing as frequently as possible, staying hydrated (not just with water, but with electrolytes…NUUN has been my saving grace!!), and RELAXING are the three things that make the biggest difference for me. My little guy is almost 8 months and still nursing exclusively plus solids once or twice a day, but with training and running three half marathons this spring it is no easy feat. I also try to feed him right before I leave and as soon as I get back (I’m usually drinking my post -workout drink and nursing him simultaneously…luckily he doesn’t mind my sweat, ha!) and think to myself…man, it would be a lot easier to re-hydrate if I wasn’t nursing at the same time! haha! Hoping to make it past the 1 year mark as well despite training for my fall marathon, traveling for work, and battling the intense NC summer heat. Keep up the good work mama! You are going to get lots of kudos for pumping during the IM :-)

    28. thank you:) another great post! Im just starting to train for my first 1/2 marathon post baby! (race sep 22). Mu plan is the BF until he’s 6 months but may end up being longer that’s just my goal for now:) As soon as I read that you were adding nutritional yeast to your diet I started as well. I try to have it daily too:) Want to keep ahead of the game! My guy is 3 months now and I haven’t experienced an issue with supply yet but may as my runs become longer! I pump 1-2 times a day and he gets one bottle a day right before bed to top him off for the night. Usually given by daddy! I love BF it’s hard and I have wanted to quit a few times Bc it’s so demanding but I’m so happy I haven’t:)

    29. YES YES YES!!!! With both my boys, I struggled with breastfeeding and supply around the 3-4 month mark. My boys were hungry and I didn’t have the milk to keep them going strong. Both times, it coincided with the time I got back to pre-pregnancy weight and was increasing my physical activity. With my second, I did a lot of what you recommend. I rented a pump and fed him, and pumped hourly in between. It was exhausting but it worked. Like you, I don’t judge or feel negatively about formula but for our family, bf’ing was the way to go. I loved it and miss it now that my little guy is 16 months and running around non-stop.

    30. All I can say is wow! What an inspiration! I don’t know how you’re doing it but it truly shows the dedication you have to your boys. Great post!

    31. While my last baby finished Bf’ing 1.5yrs ago (how did time fly that fast!?!) – I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you shared this. I was the first in my family to bf and relied so much on online support and information to make it our 10 months bf’ing. I am sure this will help other moms and let them know, they are not alone. Best of luck finishing out this training cycle while bf’ing and following it will feel like the easiest thing in the world after the Ironman :)
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    32. My workout schedule isn’t nearly as intense as yours but I also worried about keeping my supply up while running and breastfeeding and working full time. My daughter will be one in a few days (sniffle) and I’m happy to say that we are still EBF and I’ve trained for and run 12 races this year including 5 half marathons. Thank you for sharing these tips and your story, Michele!

    33. Great job, you are such an inspiration! When I was nursing my daughter my supply got low and I took the herbal supplement fenugreek and that seemed to help a lot. I had to go back to work when she was about 5 months so being away from her and having to pump at work was difficult. I ended up having to supplement with formula but she was able to have breast milk up until her first birthday. I agree with not giving up at the first sign of an issue.

    34. This is a great post and will really come in handy when I have kids someday :) I’m glad that you are making breastfeeding a priority.
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    35. I noticed, that like any endurance athlete/triathlete, you use a lot of supplements and energy bars and such. I’m curious- is there research on using those products and breastfeeding?

      • Jenna – I check the labels for anything that would seem to cause concern (or any that blatantly may say “do not consume if you are pregnant/nursing”. My son is not showing signs of being allergic to anything, so I am pretty safe with a good # of the bars and such that contain milk, soy, etc. I try to eat natural products as much as I can as opposed to any that may not be the healthiest.
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Breastfeeding and Endurance SportsMy Profile

    36. Amazing job Michele and thanks for sharing your story! I was a milk machine with Currie but wonder how the next baby will be and how my supply will be. It’s good to see how hard you work to make breastfeeding work with your athletic goals and I love all the tips you shared! Thanks!
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    37. I am not quite the endurance athlete you are, but I was still breast feeding my 2-year old when I did Ragnar and my first half marathon last fall. I’m glad you saw a lactation expert. That is very important in situations such as yours. I’m glad you are committed to nursing
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    38. I nursed both of my daughters through their first birthdays while working full-time, running, and going on the occasional business trip. While I didn’t train for any big events until I after I weaned them, I’m happy to say I was able to return to a regular fitness routine shortly after their births. Just like you, breastfeeding exclusively for 12 months was my primary goal and my fitness goals came second. As a working mom, I spent a LOT of time with my pump! I think your dedication and willingness to find creative solutions to make sure your little one is getting what he needs is AMAZING! You go girl! And I’m so glad you wrote about this. There isn’t enough information out there about breastfeeding & fitness, especially not with a positive message. I think more women would continue breastfeeding if they had more positive examples to follow!
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