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Do you think these two things can go hand-in-hand?

When I was pregnant, I was often asked told : You know you can’t run a lot and breastfeed, right?

And to be honest, at the time, I wasn’t really sure it was possible to run the miles I wanted, train for the races I had planned, AND breastfeed at the same time.  There was quite a bit of personal accounts and literature on exercising while pregnant, but I didn’t find much regarding running and breastfeeding. Both Runner’s World Guide to Running and Pregnancy and La Leche League’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (which was and still is my go-to book for all breastfeeding questions) said breastfeeding was completing safe (for mama and baby) if you were exercising.  But I couldn’t find anything quantifiable, any woman who said she ran “x” number of miles a week and was still breastfeeding successfully. (Note: I was not on twitter or blogging at the time so did not have the information these sites offer.) 

My goal was to breastfeed my son for a year.  At the end of the day, that was the most important thing I wanted to accomplish.  So, just as I did with running through pregnancy, I decided to go in with a flexible mindset.  I would give running and breastfeeding a try – but if I saw any signs of negative consequences due to running, I would decrease my mileage or stop completely.

Fast forward to today.

My son is 13 months old and I am still successfully (and happily) breastfeeding him.  I exclusively breastfed for the first six months of his life (at which point I incorporated cereal and table food). AND I DID THIS while running 40-65 miles a week and training for the NYC Marathon and my first ultra – the Knickerbocker 60k. 

Breastfeeding is not for everyone (and I’m certainly not preaching that you should breastfeed) – however, if you decide to breastfeed and want to continue running and racing, take it from me and my experience —> it IS possible!!


I will be honest – breastfeeding and trying to run and race the way I wanted was not easy for me.  There were many days when I wondered how much easier it would be if my son were not be completely dependent on me for his nutrition…to not have to coordinate and plan my runs around his sleep and nap schedule…to not get called back after a 2-3 miles because he was awake and seemed hungry (he didn’t take a bottle until he was 5 mo old).

But, I always came back to the same answer: Running is a huge part of my life.  But my son (and therefore, his health) IS MY LIFE and therefore my #1 priority.  And therefore, I was going to breastfeed him for a year. 

During the first few months, I received some negative backlash.  Most comments focused on the effects it would have on the quality, quantity, and taste of my milk:
     – Quality: My son did not get sick once during the first 11 months of his life (he had an ear infection when he was just over 11 months old) – no fevers, no colds.  He was in the 50th percentile in height and weight at birth, but by 4 weeks was over the 90th in both and has consistently been high.  He didn’t have anything except breastmilk for the first 6 months of his life.  The milk was providing him the nutrients and calories his body needed to grow and stay healthy.
     – Quantity: My son did not show signs of hunger unless it was getting close to the time I normally nursed him.  I fed him on a “loose” schedule – well within the number of times suggested by the LLL and other breastfeeding sources.  And he was a happy baby – this is the first comment I usually heard when someone met him for the first time.  Hungry babies tend to not be happy all the time.
     – Taste: This was the comment I heard most frequently. I was told that running would cause my milk to taste funny/bad and my son would not want to breastfeed anymore.  I don’t doubt that running (lactic acid) changes the flavor of the milk.  But, I started running 5 days after my son was born – this is all he’s ever known.  It’s no different than a mom eating really spicy foods or certain herbs while breastfeeding.  I have never had an issue with my son not wanting to nurse (except when he was starting to teethe).  And he has always gotten excited and happy when it’s time to nurse – even now, when I ask him if he wants “boobie” (aka “to nurse”), he comes running and tries to jump in my lap.


Below are a few of my lessons learned and some tips that may help you!


– The first few months are the toughest.  If you can get through those while running, the rest will seem like a piece of cake!

Squeeze in runs, no matter how short (esp during birth – 3 mo when you are bf’ing around the clock).

– I learned to accept that I could no longer run when I wanted and for however long I wanted to run for.  My time – and my body – now belonged to someone else.  My runs were now based on his schedule and I realized I had to make make each mile and each run count.

Always be ready for a run (esp when your child is < 3 months):
     – Early Morning: I would dress for my run and then nurse my son.  Once I was finished, my husband would get the parenting duties and I would head out the door.
     – Late Evening: My son usually took a long nap in the late afternoons (around 5pm), so if my husband made it back from work relatively early, I would head out as soon as he walked in.  My husband would call when my son woke up and I would return home to nurse him.

– Opt for runs that you can do right outside your home/apt rather than spending the time driving to a location. Each minute matters when you are nursing (esp when they are young) and you don’t want to spend half the time in the car when you could be running.

– Determine when is the right time (for you and your family) to introduce your child to the bottle. There’s tons of differing opinions on this topic. I am not a trained professional in the lactation field so will not try to tell you what you should/shouldn’t do. Here’s what I CAN tell you: I waited until AJ was 8 weeks old.  He did not successfully take a bottle until he was 5 months old. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world (I’m a stay at home mom), it did make running much more difficult especially since he was nursing very frequently at the 3-4 month mark.  (Note: I plan to start a bit earlier with baby #2.)

– Nurse and/or pump right before you head out on a long run.  That way, your child will be properly fed (and/or have milk when he/she gets hungry) AND you are not worried about getting home b/c you are in pain from going too long in between nursings.

– When I was training for the NYC Marathon and the 60k, I would often get up early (~4am) to run before my son woke up.  I would pump moments before I left on my run to ensure that it didn’t negatively affect my milk supply as well as making sure that there was milk for my son when he woke up (he’s an early riser ~ 530-6am)

– Once my son began napping longer, I would nurse him, put him to sleep, and then head out on my long runs (most often on the weekends when my husband was around to watch him!).  This did two things for me: ensured that my son was properly fed and allowed me to run for a much longer stretch of time.

– Nurse where you need to / when you need to -> don’t feel ashamed!
NYC Marathon: My mom, husband, sister, son, and I drove to the staging area in Fort Wadsworth.  Before I got out of the car, I nursed him.  I knew it would be quite a while until I saw him again.  Thankfully, my mom, husband, and son were literally at the finish line.  Within 10 minutes of crossing the finish line, I was in a bathroom with my son.  I wiped down and nursed him in a stall.  It wasn’t the most comfortable or easiest way to nurse him – but we both needed it!
     – Knickerbocker 60k: My husband, son, and I made our way to the start area.  When there was about 30 min to go before the race started, I found a bench, covered up, and nursed my son.  I NEEDED to nurse him as close to the start as I could – it would be probably close to 6 hours before I would get to nurse him again and wanted to ensure that he was adequately fed and I was properly drained!

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* 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 and training!

* Good information:

    18 thoughts on “Nursing

    1. I have a half marathon scheduled in about 6 weeks. I EBF, and have only introduced the bottle once. My baby will be 6 months old in a couple days, and just over 7 months on race day. She still gets up about 1-2 times a night. I have to be at the buses in the AM prior to the race the latest is 5 AM. I am about 30 mins away from where i need to be to grt on the buses. What do you recommend for when i feed her? Do i wake her if she doesn’t wake already? Try to introduce the bottle more? Any thoughts appreciated!

    2. Hi, thank you for this post. You are actually one of the only resources I can find on this topic, as you said, and your blog is an amazing reference generally (and inspiring!!!). So thank you!!

      Sorry, this is tmi! Wondering if you have advice on bras? I wear high performance underwire running bras. I’ve read that the underwire can cause damage, but I think I would do more muscle damage to my breasts if I run without the underwire particularly when my breasts are so much bigger (I am currently first trimester, and already growing very fast up top!). Did you wear any particular brand? And did you have any trouble with underwire? Particularly on long runs. I honestly have very few friends who are Moms, and fewer who run as much as I do!

      Thank you again so much for your blog!!

    3. Thanks so much for this post!! I’m not sure when you initially posted but I loved reading it. Great advice. I ran through the 7th month of my pregnancy and started up (very slowly) around 5 weeks PP. I have been having such a hard time squeezing in even short runs and I miss it a lot.. so there was some great advice in there for me! My little one is 10 weeks, and I know as the feedings space out I’ll have more time.

      • Great to read this. I literally ran up until delivery and at one week pp, I want to get back. I wore a belt while preggo and read that a belt pp will help support muscles and other ‘parts’. Did you wear anything pp for runs?

    4. Pingback: Don’t Let These Exercise Myths Slow You Down | Bosom Buddies-Blog

    5. Jamie,
      Did you wear nursing pads while actually running to prevent leaking towards the end of the run? Or is it not really a problem while running? I’m just wondering if that happens and if so what the best solution is (besides being sweaty and leaky!).

    6. Just wanted to say thankyou, I began running a year ago and after becoming pregnant with baby number four was forced to stop I now have 8 weeks before due date and really need to run ! I breastfed all of my children so intend to again and have been given lots of negative advice from family trying to convince me not to run until I stop breast feeding. After reading this its not happening I only manage a very small 5k but am running after birth as soon as my body feels ready. Any negative comments will be ignored, thank you, your story has inspired me to carry on

    7. Love the blog! I’m 35 weeks pregnant and ran up until about 6/7 months. I really want to start running again as soon as it is safe after delivery, and I also plan on breastfeeding. What is your advice for breast comfort during runs? I heard doubling up on sports bras or using Ace Wrap can help, but I am fearful of mastitis from clogged ducts. Any types/brands of bras that you would recommend over others?

      • Hi Jennifer!
        Hope you are feeling well these last few weeks of pregnancy!

        As far as support for the ladies, I got some new sports bras b/c most of mine were not that supportive (there wasn’t a huge need – LOL). I focused on bras that had a tight band underneath and really fitted and snug on top. Most of the ones I wore back then (~2-3 years ago) I no longer have so I don’t remember the brands I used. I’ve heard really good things about Moving Comfort sports bras –

        But there were some runs where I used two sports bras (especially in the first couple of months). Or one sports bra and a tank with built in support. I would recommend waiting until after you deliver to see what size the ladies become – I was pretty surprised at how much bigger I became and even the nursing bras I had purchased were too small.

        I hope this helps! Best of luck with the next couple of weeks, L&D and the arrival of your little one!!
        nycrunningmama recently posted..North Face Mountain Athletics Gear + $500 North Face Gift Card Giveaway!My Profile

    8. Thanks so much for this post!! I’m not sure when you initially posted but I loved reading it. Great advice. I ran through the 7th month of my pregnancy and started up (very slowly) around 5 weeks PP. I have been having such a hard time squeezing in even short runs and I miss it a lot.. so there was some great advice in there for me! My little one is 10 weeks, and I know as the feedings space out I’ll have more time. :-)

    9. Every time i go for a decent run I make almost no milk that day – short jogs are fine but when I push my body the milk isn’t there. Baby is 5 months old and I would love to be training already.

    10. Thank you for this! I’m a casual runner, about 15 to 20 miles per week and breastfeeding my 5 month old son. It’s been very difficult! I definitely need to pump or nurse directly before I run otherwise if can’t stand the heaviness. The advice you gave about always being ready for a run is really good. I wake up and put my gym shorts on and go about my day ready to jump on my treadmill if my son takes an impromptu nap or I get a visitor willing to watch him for 30-40 minutes. I was wondering though, and maybe I missed it, but have you experienced any bouts of mastitis? I have gone through 2 and one time I can definitely attribute to wearing a sports bra all day. As soon as I’m done running now I remove my (2) bras because I’m afraid of getting it again. I had to be on antibiotic twice because it caused an infection and felt like I got the flu. I will say the most difficult for me has been my energy though, breastfeeding really zaps my energy, just the act itself (and sitting on a cozy couch) is not conducive to prepping for a run. Not to mention, I have to really limit my caffiene because I noticed one time I drank a cup and nursed my son, he was a little more excited! But anyway, thank you for this, you are very inspiring.

      • Hi Jamie! Thanks so much! Glad to hear that you have found it useful!

        I had mastitis twice – one time I know it was because I went too long in between feedings and got a clogged duct. I never connected it with wearing a sports bra all day!

        I agree about the energy level – I found with my 2nd that it was much easier if I went earlier in the AM – my energy levels were topped off and I felt much better!

        Hope you continue to have success with running and nursing! If you ever have any questions, please let me know =)
        nycrunningmama recently posted..Marathon Training FavoritesMy Profile

    11. Hi Daisy! I could not agree more – there really is not a lot of information out there for breastfeeding moms running/training/etc. It’s tough and hard to find someone who has been through it before! Glad that you are finding some of what I have written to be useful! That makes me really happy!

      First, congrats on your training! Chicago and a 50 miler! WOW!! That is incredible! A 50 miler is on my bucket list!!

      I found that it was really hard to stay properly hydrated on long runs days. I read somewhere that the average person requires something like 60 oz of water, the average person running x miles a week (I don’t remember how much) required 100+ and the average nursing mom required 128 or something. Which means that a nursing mom who is running requires something crazy like 160!! It was pretty impossible to consume that much fluid on a regular basis.
      But I always found that for the rest of the day after a long run and often the day after, my supply would tank – and then slowly start to come back up. A lot of times I’d supplement with frozen or recently pumped milk b/c I felt that there just wasn’t enough for those 24-36 hours. I did a post last year on how to get your milk supply back up – have you read it? I can link it to you if you haven’t!
      Best of luck with your training and racing!! And happy early birthday to your daughter! =)
      nycrunningmama recently posted..5k PR -> 1st Sub-20!My Profile

    12. I am in this exact situation right now, I have been running since 2007, marathons halfs and ultra (31 miles). now I gave birth to my daughter Vida 11 months ago, and almost a year now I will be running chicago marathon the week of her birthday and my first 50 miler 3 weeks later! she still does not take a bottle, shes all breast and food ofcourse food water juice too! But boy has this been an interesting year for me!!!! I suffer on my long runs, I think its not enough proper nutrition? or I dont know? did you find the days of your longgg runs your milk was less? please advice? I am also beyond hungry all the time!!!! thanks for your blog there are not enough moms like us out here!!!

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