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Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman
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I am due with my baby in May and I have hopes of doing a half ironman in September. I was wondering if anyone has done this in such a short time frame and if so if you have any advice on training while breast feeding and actually doing a race while breast feeding.
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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I haven't done this, but have some thoughts . . .

Of course you can do it. Will you want to? That's another one.

You may or may not have a smooth birth. This will affect your ability to get on a training schedule or even sit/walk comfortably for a while. Doctors say rest up for 4-6 weeks, and this is very sound advice, even for an athlete (especially, because we're such head cases) for getting physiology (hormones, joint laxity, continence issues, any stitches) back into a solid platform.

Breastfeeding may or may not go to plan. A lot of women find it challenging for all kinds of reasons that nature hasn't seemed to iron out. But 3-4 months is plenty of time to get on a schedule. To do what you want to do I would make it a priority to learn to pump and give the baby bottles. Alternately (and you'll hear voices opposed to this) there's a breast milk/bottled breast milk/formula option. My kids managed fine on mixed sources. It buys you the freedom of having your partner/others take on some of the feeds. If you choose to go breast-only, you'll want to get on a feeding schedule that will fit with your race time. The baby might not be in agreement here.

If you do breast only, can you manage the let-down sensation (somewhat stressful, as it's meant to be)/feeding in the middle of a race if that's how it works out? How will you coordinate your location with the baby-minder? FYI, nursing makes you incredibly thirsty and this will effect your hydration. Also, maybe mid-race milk won't taste so good (no scientific basis for this, just imagining) -- if the baby makes a fuss would you be willing to say OK I'll drop the race or OK I'll just carry on? I can't imagine leaving a howling baby to jump back in, so I suppose you'd need to be prepared to bail if it came to that.

Lots of ifs here. If you sail through birth and feeding then you'll still have broken sleep to contend with. You don't want to get into a recovery hole with a new baby in the house.

Sorry if this sounds negative but if you know the hurdles and still want to go ahead, you can plan for them. There have been some other threads on racing/new baby and they have gotten very hot! Ultimately you won't know how you'll manage until you're in the midst of new babydom. Good luck and keep us posted on how you get on with the birth!
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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I'm sure it's been done before, but I would never have been able to swing it. It really all depends on how your birth goes, for one. Recovery is different depending on if you have a C-section, uncomplicated vaginal delivery or complicated vaginal delivery. I personally had a complicated vaginal delivery with forceps, and episiotomy and a deep tear. I absolutely could not even think of getting on a bike for at least 3 months. As far as breast feeding, it really depends on how often your baby feeds. Mine fed every 2-3 hours for at least 4 months, even at night. In this period I became very engorged and miserable if I went more than 4 hours without feeding or pumping.

Also, I don't know your situation (or whether this is your first), but if you will be going back to work just think about how much additional time you're going to want to spend away from your new baby. Training for a half ironman is no small time commitment. My baby is currently one and I still wouldn't want to spend my precious time away from work out on a bike away from him. Just some things to think about. It's amazing how much priorities change when you meet the new love of your life. :)

Congratulations!

Jodi
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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I don't know your background - I think part of this depends on your fitness and experience level before you have the baby. I wasn't a triathlete when I had my babies and was breastfeeding, but I was a runner. It was different with each birth how easily I got back into training physically. With some I was running pretty soon after, but with my first it was a long recovery time (despite having done a marathon right before getting pregnant and staying really physically active and fit during the pregnancy). It was just a rough delivery.

But part of it is also learning to balance my time and schedule. I work FT so between working, being with the baby when not working, pumping, house work, etc. I had enough time to train for half marathons, but not full marathons. I felt pulled in many directions.

But I know some people do it and make it work - I was only able to make work what *I* could, and I felt a lot of pressure in the adjustment period for each baby until I learned how to juggle my schedule to make my personal fitness stuff a priority too. So part of it also probably depends on how involved and supportive your partner is of these goals.

As for the physically breastfeeding part of it, 5-6 hours was too long for me to go without pumping or feeding the baby. And as I did more intense exercise, my supply dwindled.

Maybe you could have someone meet you with the baby at transition and do a quick feed, or pump quickly with a nursing cover (I've done this on the fly a lot). Or sometimes when on business travel I was able to do a quick "express" to take the pressure off (and dumped it to not worry about the sanitary issue of the milk) and it didn't take too much time when on the go.

Good luck!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Cynthia
Blog: http://yousignedupforwhat.com/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/yousignedup FB: http://www.facebook.com/yousignedupforwhat IG: http://instagram.com/yousignedupforwhat
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [cynthiaruntri] [ In reply to ]
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I'm not a mother, but I do remember reading about women who have stopped to breastfeed/pump in an ironman.

I found this story http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com/laura-straub

It wasn't the one I was thinking of, but it should give you some ideas.
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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I wasn't going to post anything to this thread since my 6 month old was formula-fed from day one (long story) but I found myself thinking about this post this morning while I was out running. As far as the complications of breastfeeding and training/racing, I don't have much to offer but I did want to say that if this is your first to be gentle on yourself and your expectations. My daughter was born in August and I had plans to run a trail 25K in December. Since she's formula-fed my husband can help with the feedings and I figured that it was doable. In our case I was very wrong. My daughter was incredibly colicky (even the doc said one of the worst she'd seen in a while) and wouldn't sleep more than 45 minutes straight...for months! It got so bad that I had to hire a night doula to come in once every few weeks just so I could catch up on some sleep because I didn't feel like I could safely drive anywhere.

The reason I bring this up is that I beat myself up pretty badly about not running that race and panicked over whether I was going to lose 'me' now that I was a mom but I simply.couldn't.do.it. I certainly hope that you have a very smooth labor and delivery and that your baby is happy and a great sleeper from day 1 and you're able to train towards your goals but but if not, know that you're awesome regardless of whether you do the race and win, do the race and finish dead last (or DNF), or opt out of the race altogether. You're awesome....remember that on the rough days (and remember that there will always be other races). :)


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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [lilpups] [ In reply to ]
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What lilpups said.

I had a horrible baby (who is now an amazing 3 year old). He didn't sleep and WOULD NOT take a bottle of anything. I was the sole food source.

I sometimes look back (with that lovely haze that only time permits) and am hard on myself about why I didn't do more exercise & why I didn't shed the weight as fast. And then my mom will send me an email that I wrote her during that time and I remember all to well.

If everything goes well I'm sure it can be done. Mostly I hope the best for you - that you can juggle all the balls and get your much needed/deserved you time. If it involves a big race, all the better.
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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Training sure but racing a half? ugh no way. When my daughter was ~7mo I was able to go maybe a half day at work without having to pump or feed - otherwise I was in so much pain from engorgement.

You never know how your 3rd trimester may go, how the delivery may go, and how your baby may make out in the first few months. So if you sign up for the half, don't hang all your hopes on it and be open to the very real possibility of DNSing it - as per lilpups' post. I'm cheap by nature and would never shell out the cash for a half if I wasn't positive I'd be toeing the start line. :-)

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy!

AP

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"How bad could it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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I know this is an extreme example but I thought I'd share for kicks. My friend Jessica is bulletproof. I've never met anyone quite like her. She stopped to pump during several races.

  • Grand Columbian Super Triathlon (swim 5k/bike 200k/run 50k; 9 months post-partum, nursing) 2nd OA
  • RAMROD cycling event (149 miles and 10k+ ft of elevation gain; 8 months post-partum, nursing) finisher
  • Triple Bypass cycling event (120 miles and 10k+ ft of elevation gain; 7 months post-partum, nursing) finisher

If you are ever looking for inspiration take a look at her coaching business and blog. http://evergreenendurance.com

NOTE: I have never breastfed or been a parent but even I know how amazing this is.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Jen

"In order to keep a true perspective on one's importance, everyone should have a dog that worships him and a cat that will ignore him." - Dereke Bruce
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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I think it is doable but as someone mentioned before I am not sure if you will want to. I think breastfeeding is one aspect to consider when decided to do a half ironman but also consider how everything else will change once you have your kiddo.

My personal experience is that I would not have been able to do one 3 months after birth. My son was a very challenging new born. He wouldn't latch & was jaundiced. I spent 1.5 Months getting the breastfeeding part down and in that time I only slept once longer than 4 hrs straight. I felt like i was going to lose my mind. I then returned to work and the breastfeeding got better but with work and baby taking up all my time I was only able to return to running. I did run a half marathon 6 months after my son was born but it wasn't any where near my prior performances. I was still happy to get back to running.

Beth Gerdes is a professional triathlete that did a half ironman very close to giving birth. You may want to check out her blog. She has done extremely well since doing her daughter was born but she has admitted before the reason she is able to do this is because her job is to be a triathlete and has been able to prioritize her time with baby and triathlon. Still her story is very inspirational and highly recommend you following her.

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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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No way would I have been able to do a 1/2 Iron (or hell, let me be honest - a 5K run) after delivering any of my babies! BUT, I am sure others have. I had 2 very easy (as labor and delivery go) vaginal deliveries (baby #1 & 2) and one very unexpected C-section (#3). After baby #1 I couldn't run for months after because of a lingering pubic bone pain that to this day I can't figure out what the problem was, I just know there was no way in hell I was running anything for a long time until it healed up. Baby #2 I was jogging lightly at 6 weeks. Baby #3 and the C-Section, well, I didn't even drive for 5 weeks after that, so no, no running here - and it was textbook with no issues after. Basically just saying that you never know what is going to happen during and after you deliver your baby - and that doesn't take into account nursing.

That being said - new babies eat every 2-3 hours, from start of feed to start of feed. If you are lucky you will have a baby who takes right to it and eats like a champ - quick and to the point. Done in 20 minutes and eats every 3 hours. Or you could have a lazy sleepy eater who is still eating an hour after you start, and you know he/she will be right back on the boob 60 minutes after they are finally done eating. Leaving you exactly 60 minutes to get their diaper changed, get a snack and some water - for you, do some dishes, laundry etc... At 6 weeks, all of my kids were still eating on the 2-3 hour schedule. I say this because you will definitely have to figure out when to train. If your baby takes a bottle (formula or breast milk, doesn't matter which), someone else can feed the baby for you while you are out training. But take into account time to pump. You can't take the baby in the jogger (not recommended before 6 months, even in the Chariots I believe), so you will have to have someone watch the baby while you do all your training. If you have a treadmill and a bike trainer, that problem is alleviated for the most part - you just have to train while baby sleeps or during their awake time that isn't on your boob!

Nurse first then train. Empty boobs. You don't want to be running while baby is waiting for you and/or you are engorged. I have read that lactic acid can alter the taste of breastmilk so that's another reason to nurse then motor on out for your workout. Also - there are changing tents at most Ironman events - you wouldn't be the first person to sit down for 20 - 30 minutes and pump in transition. You would just have to have all of your "stuff" with you in your transition bag or grab from a friend on the way in and take a few moments to take care of your boobies!

If you do it - hats off to you!! Let us know what you decide to do.

ETA: If I was going to race and deal with nursing this would be my plan: Nurse or pump just before you toe-the-line. That's the last thing you do before you get in the water. Swim, bike, then at the bike to run transition pump, then run. Your probably looking at 3-4 hours (depending on how fast you are) between nursing/pumping before the race and your mid race pump/nurse session, then run and you should be good to go.

Like I said up top - never a chance for me to do anything like this - but I sure have thought about what I would do - pretending I was a rock star and all!

**********************
Harry: "I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this."
Loyd: "I was thinking the same thing. That John Denver's full of shit, man."
Last edited by: RockyMtnChic: Mar 17, 15 6:33
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [RockyMtnChic] [ In reply to ]
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It's funny that you ask this question because I have a 9 month old and I am *finally* back into full training again - I did a long mountain climb (Mt Lemmon) today and my husband was teasing me about the fact that I was breastfeeding at the top after a PR ascent and wondered how many other women have done likewise. I am sure there have been some before and afterwards! Not much new to chime in except that I was like you about a year ago with plans to get back into racing earlier than now so I would also recommend being patient and seeing how things go with both your recovery, desire and your baby. The thing is - these babies have minds of their own! I had great plans that my baby would be a good sleeper (wrong), take a bottle of pumped milk for training days (wrong), wean easily at 6 months (wrong) and that I would get back in the swing quickly (wrong). I had severe pelvic pain until I was seven months post-partum, which ruled out any races for quite some time. But instead of getting stressed about it, I used it as an opportunity to work on my weakness: swimming. In the end, I actually think I will be a better triathlete because I didn't force training and racing and let my body dictate my return to higher level training. Finally, there is an amazing thing that happens with the baby: you *may* not want to be gone for more than an hour or two each day for training at first. It is great stress relief and empowering to have a break from baby, but at least for me, I found that I would start to miss baby and would be keen to go home after an hour or two. I am now up to 4 hour long rides and he is still my motivation to ride hard so I can hang out with the little guy again! And as other people pointed out, the first month or two is ALOT of sitting on the couch with a baby attached to your boob!

Good luck - there are definitely examples of women and babies who have been able to establish a routine quickly and then there are some of us who have had to adjust expectations so probably the best approach is to go in with an open mind to racing soon or now and be flexible depending on what happens.
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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Hey! This is exactly the thread I was looking for as I was wondering about others experience post baby and racing.

My son was born in November and before he was born I was dead set on doing a half iron some time this year... But after he was born that determination/desire flew out the window!

I had a relatively easy delivery, I only pushed for 10 minutes so my recovery was pretty fast. I ran my first 5K five weeks after he was born. It felt AMAZING to run again after he was born. I have a Bob Revolution stroller and I love it, I have been running with him in the stroller since he was 4 weeks. We started with him in his car seat clipped into the stroller and moved him to just the stroller at 4 months. He was born with really good head control (he could hold his own head up when he was born, weirdo) so I never had to worry too much about the bouncing being bad for him. I had pelvic floor pain when I first started running and it got better as I got stronger. He is 5 months old now and I still have some pelvic floor pain when I run "long" distances (5+ miles) or push the pace. I haven't gotten back on my bike yet or back in the pool, primarily because of the time commitment. He is breast fed and eats regularly every two hours, even at night he only goes 3 hours between feeding. We have had a hard time getting him to take a bottle (but I go back to work soon so hopefully that will change). I basically have to plan everything really tight around his feeding. I really didn't think (didn't want) to be this way when I was pregnant but the thing is that if I miss a feeding I am as uncomfortable as he is hungry! When my milk lets down if I don't pump or feed him it hurts which makes it a pain the ass to do anything that takes longer then 2 hours (including prep and travel time). The running with a stroller is nice because I can feed him before we run or right after and I don't have to worry about being separated from him. Invest in some good sports bras for your larger milk boobs.

As I am typing this out I am reminded of the passion I had when I was pregers to do a race and not get "tied down" by the baby. The truth is though that now that I am on the other side, I just don't care as much. Its been so much harder to have a little then I ever thought it would be and in the weirdest ways that I didn't expect. I am pretty physically and emotionally drained each day. I had NO idea how much breast feeding and carting the little around would take it out of me. I gained 40lbs when I was pregnant and it was sucked away after 2 months, I have a hard time getting enough calories and water even on days I don't run! My daily mantra is to show myself grace and to be patient with my body. You are growing a human, it takes a while to recover from that! I am just now starting to think about putting a race on the calendar and I will be really excited and pleased if I make it to a sprint or an olympic distance race this year.

I hope that breast feeding is easy for you! That your little takes a bottle no problemo! That you have a speedy recovery from your delivery! That you have lots of love and support from those around you and people to watch your baby while you swim, bike, run! That your little is a champion sleeper! AND most of all I hope that you will show yourself love and grace. Cut yourself a break and know that you will be back in the race when the time is right for your body (I'm talking to you AND me!). :)

Congratulations mama to be!
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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Tl:dr response - yes if everything aligns, but will be challenging.

I had number 3 last September and am still breastfeeding. I've breastfed all 3 with varying levels of success...it might be doable if you have a good support system, pump, and a chill baby.

Also keep in mind that not everyone loses weight while breastfeeding. I tend to gain or hold steady until I stop. The extra weight makes weight bearing activity (and fitting into my swim/bike gear) difficult plus my pelvis and hips stay loose for several months.

If you have solid base fitness and have maintained your workouts throughout pregnancy and have an "easy" delivery and good support and a chill baby, it's definitely doable, but I would avoid a time goal.

Please also try to be patient with yourself; frustration at not being able to train has pushed me toward post partum depression after both 2 & 3. Exercise helped, but trying to train with a purpose did not work well for me. I'm just now getting to the point physically, mentally, and logistically where I think I can start training again.

Best of luck.
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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I raced a half ironman in May after giving birth in Feb. And, breastfed the whole time. Now that my little one is 18 mos, I don't want to take the time away to train like I did when he was a little baby. Do it while you can :)
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Re: Breast feeding while training and doing a half ironman [Jpatek] [ In reply to ]
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For my first full IM in August of 2013, my sister had been signed up for it. She signed up in August of 2012 and found out she was pregnant 2 months later. She gave birth to twins in May of 2013 and was super upset about missing out on the race. She kept active throughout her pregnancy (nothing straining though) and 6 weeks after her twins were born got out running a bunch and maybe did 2 rides. She has always found swimming easy. She completed IMMT in August 2013 with me by her side in just over 15 hours!! She breastfed twice during the race - on the side of the road part way through the bike and right before the marathon. They supplemented as well (obvi) but the twins were apparently great - it's like they knew Mommy just needed to race!
I feel like as long as you're realistic and you can quit if you need to, you should go for it!
Good luck!
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