Friday, November 6, 2015

Running, Racing and Breastfeeding {Part 1}

Sitting in the back of the van, I began to nod off to the familiar hum of the Spectra.

Brr rrm. Brr rrp. Brr rrm. Brr rrp.

It had to be the sixth time that day that I had hooked myself up to the all-too-familiar flanges and plastic tubing. It was growing tedious but I tried to find some peace. This time would not be the last. Far from it, actually.

I was away for three days and three nights to participate in the Bourbon Chase. It was 72 hours of much needed time to be me. Just me. Not the wife, not the mother. It was me, the runner. It was me, the friend.

But as much as I wanted to separate myself, there was one part of my life in Fort Wayne that I could not leave behind.

Breastfeeding.

This fall, I navigated a curious and sometimes tricky path of trying to run, race and feed Silas. While I have been successful on many levels, I've also faced my fair share of challenges. As such, I thought I would share my personal experiences for anyone who might find it helpful.

This post, Part 1, will focus on my general observations about breastfeeding and running. Part 2 will address how I handled breastfeeding, pumping and racing.

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Running <<>> Part 1


My face was red, my shirt was soaked with sweat. I had just finished a particularly grueling workout – 6.5 miles of a hill repeat and 400 combo – at the cemetery, and I was riding the endorphin high.

Until I went to the lactation room at work.

I needed to clean up and pump before starting my day. I did my thing with the Action Wipes and then hooked myself up. I'd typically express anywhere from 4 to 6 ounces total during the first pump of the day but a couple weeks prior, Si had been taking antibiotics for impetigo. His appetite had dropped, and I pumped more than usual. As such, I didn't know what to expect – 6 ounces, maybe 7. I'd love to get 8.

But what I got was 2. TWO ounces total.

I panicked and shot out a frantic message to my breast friend. She talked me down, told me to drink, drink, drink my water; stick to my regiment of fenugreek and blessed thistle; and maybe ease up on the running, at least for a little bit.

I could drink the water. I could stand the smell of maple syrup from the fenugreek. However, the thought of dropping back on running was not what I wanted to hear but I couldn't deny that it might be what I needed. Many women can run and maintain supply but I was starting think I wasn't one of them.

My supply rebounded that day after the message, and I got enough to feel OK. However, my impetigo days, where I expressed 19 ounces in one day, were over. I went from pumping 15 ounces, to 12 ounces and then to 10. The correlation seemed to be my venture into midweek runs of 6 miles and long runs in the double digits.

Can we say frustrating? I didn't want to have to pick between nursing Silas and running.

I didn't have a great go of it with Miles, and I was proud that things were better with Si. He is a boob man for sure, and he prefers to drink from the tap over a bottle, even going as far as to hold off until I am around. I love that I can offer him that nutrition and, maybe more importantly, comfort.

However, I couldn't help but feel a bit selfish. You give up a lot when you have a baby. Your body, sleep, sanity. Heck, at times, your marriage. Some days the only thing holding together the pieces of me were the laces of my Sauconys and the steps I ran that day. I needed to run just as much as Si needed to nurse. Maybe more.

But for all the tug and pull, I'm thankful it didn't come down to a him or me decision. I got determined and worked to improve my supply, even if it was just an ounce or two a day. I pumped after Si went down for the night and just before he got up in the morning. I added a nursing session at daycare and pumped immediately after. I chugged water. And I set my sights on 6 months. Six months and he'd have solids. We would be fine if we could make it to then. I could keep up.

And I did.

Keeping up, though, is a bit deceiving. I am able to do it not just from improving my supply and adding solids but Si's schedule. He usually drinks one, maybe two, bottles at daycare – each 5 ounces or so. Other babies tend to take more but they are also babies who sleep during the night. Si? Well, he wakes frequently during the night, sometimes, three to four times. Basically, he's drinking what he should during the day at night and getting a little something to whet his palate during the day.

Fun, right?

On the weekends, when I'm strictly nursing, I don't take note of my supply. It's just not easy to quantify the way it is with pumping. Also, I don't track how often he nurses on the weekends. I just don't feel compelled to do that at this point. And, call me lazy, but if Si's fussy and it's been at least 90 minutes since he's nursed, I just throw him on the boob. Sometimes he eats, sometimes he doesn't.

I am certain that he probably nurses more frequently than other babies his age. On Saturdays, when I run long, it is more pronounced. In part, because he sometimes fusses with the bottle. It's also because I don't "fill up" well on the run. I often feel floppy for a few hours and have to force the water down and make sure I get enough calories to give my body what it needs for milk production.

But it's worth it. He gets what he needs, and I get what I need.

4 comments:

  1. It's so hard to have to pump as a working mom and a runner and battle supply issues. You are amazing!

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  2. Love this series! Great post.

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  3. Love this series! Great post.

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  4. Ah, the balance of motherhood, working and running. I also would freak out when I had a drop in supply. In fact, I was nutso, I had a spreadsheet where I tracked the time, amount of time, and ounces from each pumping session at work. My hope was that I could identify when I pumped the most (always morning) and the least. Then when I had a drop, I wouldn't freak out as much.

    My kids also liked to party at night, even until they were 18-20 months when I night weaned them.

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