This post is for my documentation of running marathons/ultramarathons while nursing. Feel free to skip this one if it doesn't apply to you! And I am obviously not an expert. These are just my thoughts and what worked for me. :)
My priority for the last 6 months was to exclusively nurse my baby. Running came second to that. On days where I felt tired or just wanted to sleep in or to hold and cuddle, I did! I hope to have more seasons to race, but this is not one of them. However, I think you still can run while nursing, and even run 6+ hours (as I plan to on Saturday). It just takes a little extra time, thought, and effort to prepare.
Here's a brief summary of the last 6 months of nursing/training:
*Information about amount of breastmilk from Cornerstone Pediatrics Infant Feeding Schedule.
Month One (June 22-July 22): nursed almost 10 times a day--from 12 oz. (Week 1) - 22 oz. (Week 4), very little running during the first month, extremely thirsty and hungrier than normal, very tired (even for 1 mile walks)
*Followed BabyWise approach to creating a 2-3 hour schedule for my baby, this led to her sleeping through the night in Month 2!
*Pumped after morning feeding to establish a freezer stash and introduced the bottle. I ended up having 40 bags of milk in 1-5 oz. increments stored after about 3 months. I knew this milk would be needed as I increased my training. I'm a SAHM, so this milk was used only for church services where I didn't leave to nurse, date nights, and running.
Month Two (July 22-August 22): nursed around 7 times a day (22-26 oz.), began running 5Ks and working back up to a 10 mile long run. Baby began sleeping through the night at 8 weeks.
Month Three (August 22-September 22): nursed 6 times a day (26-28 oz.), committed to the marathon and ran up to a 12 mile long run, got back up to 6 days of exercise a week but 1/2 my weekly miles (normally run 6 miles a day, now running 3 miles a day)
Month Four (September 22-October 22): nursed 6 times a day (28-30 oz.), ran up to a 16 mile long run, used milk in freezer stash when I skipped a feeding, pumped afterwards, nursed in public at the Liz Hurley Awards Ceremony! (I am very shy about nursing in public, so this felt like a victory to me)
Month Five (October 22-November 22): nursed 5-6 times a day (28-36 oz.), ran up to a 20 mile long run, used milk in freezer stash when I skipped a feeding, pumped afterwards
Month Six (November 22-December 22): nursed 5-6 times a day (28-36 oz.), ran the Rocket City Marathon as a pacer for 4:10 group, used milk in freezer stash when I skipped a feeding, pumped afterwards, took it pretty easy over the Christmas Break :), begin pumping and adding to milk stash during the holidays since it was getting depleted and the milk was expiring (milk in freezer expires after 6 months, now have around 30 bags of milk, goal is to keep a rolling stash in case of emergencies or decrease in supply, will "roll" the supply-try to add the same amount I use)
Month Seven (December 22-January 22): nursing 4-6 times a day (30-38 oz.), ran 3 long runs in preparation for Mountain Mist (13 mile trail run, 15 mile trail run, 19 mile road run near 8:40 pace), increased my runs to 4.5 daily miles, added Jillian Michael's videos 3 times a week for core (needed for trail running), used milk in freezer stash when I skipped a feeding, pumped afterwards, baby was nursed exclusively for 6 months and has begun eating solids!
Now here is a little more info and some tips.
Rocket City Marathon Training
How do you nurse and also fit in your long runs? Does it affect your milk's taste and quantity? These were questions I had when I committed to pace the Rocket City Marathon last December. Here is what worked for me:
*Early on (first few months) I pumped after the first feed to build a milk stash, then stopped building the stash as I added in long runs (around 3 months). My stash was about 40 bags in 1-5 oz. increments. I had a big supply starting from like day 2, so this was pretty easy for me to do (if I could just force myself to make the time to pump!). After a long run, I found that I could not replace ounce for ounce (for example, see below where I used 10 oz. from stash and only replaced with 3 oz.), so the stash was a necessity!
*After Month Two, for early morning runs I made sure the baby would not wake before I returned home. I followed BabyWise and got her to sleep through the night at 8 weeks. I would do a full feeding at 10 p.m. each night. Then she would wake at 7 or 8 a.m., so I knew I could run as long as I got home before then. Now (Month Seven) I wake her from 8-9 a.m. for her first feed. This makes it so easy to run before she wakes.
* I could easily do my usual morning runs (usually 3 miles) without pumping or feeding first, but I also decided to try this method for long runs too! I knew that I wanted sleep more than I wanted to not be engorged while running! That's right, between about Months 3-6, I would sometimes do a long run with friends and would NOT pump or feed beforehand simply because I wanted the sleep. When I met friends to do long runs around 5 a.m., I could run up to 20 miles with them without nursing or pumping first. This maximized my sleep and got my body adjusted to running like this. I never leaked at all! It's amazing what our bodies can adapt to.
*Marathon morning I did wake up the baby (5:30 a.m. or so?) to feed her before I left the house. I figured she would take more from me than I could pump. After she ate I didn't know if she would think it was morning and stay awake, but she did go back to sleep. I put her back down and left 10 oz. of milk for 2 bottles for the 6 hours I would be gone. The sitter said she took them both fine. I only pumped 3 oz. to replenish, but I figured that was fine since I certainly lost a lot of my fluids through sweating that day.
*I sometimes pumped in the car but found it awkward. I mostly pumped after returning home. I always pumped if I'd missed a feeding to replenish the milk the baby had drunk from the freezer stash.
*If I ran alone I could time my runs better, so I didn't run much with my friends. I ran after a feeding, thus hopefully eliminating the need for a bottle in my absence. She eats every 3-4 hours now, so it's pretty easy to time most of my runs.
*I ran the minimum number of miles I needed. I really only ran to get up to just barely being able to finish with my goal time. It was a pretty good challenge for me to finish in 4:10. I only did one 16 and one 20 miler and a few 10-14 mile runs in preparation. No real order to the runs either! I just did them when it worked out. I know this wasn't ideal, but it's what worked.
Now I am training for the Mountain Mist 50K. My training for the marathon really was bare-bones, but my training for this race is equally if not more so! My goal is just to finish, hopefully in the 6-6:30 range (a general rule of thumb is to add 2 hours to your marathon time and that is what you can get at Mountain Mist).
Tips I've learned from this training:
*In my case, the mountain I train on is a 30 minute drive from my house, adding considerable time to any training run. I've only trained twice on the mountain for this reason (both times with my husband, Rick)! Our sitter came on New Year's Eve for 4 hours (13 mile trail run) and last Saturday for 4.5 hours (15 mile trail run). These runs were later in the day, so I was able to nurse the baby at least once before we left for the run.
*I'm more worried about blisters on the bottoms of my feet than anything right now! Lack of training on the trails leaves you unaccustomed to the terrain, so I have had new blisters from each training run.
*I'm rereading my previous blog entries about MM and working on my mental focus for the race. This race is so tough, so you have to have your mind ready to conquer it. That's something I can do from home. :)
*I'm making a nursing plan now. I plan to feed the baby before I leave and will leave 15 oz. for the 8 hours I'll be away from the baby for the race this Saturday.
The Baby's Weight and Other Concerns
Everything in nursing is based on diaper output and weight gain. I mean, it's not like we can tell how much they are drinking! Diaper output is fine! :) And my baby was at the 95% for her weight at 2 months, 90% at 4 months, and 75% for 6 months. In other words, she's doing great!
The baby has shown no problems drinking after my long runs (the milk's taste does not seem to have changed enough to affect her). She will even nurse right after a run, but I prefer to shower and then feed her if possible.
My eating and drinking habits were adjusted based on running levels--nursing adds a need of around 500 more calories a day and LOTS of water. I just eat when I am hungry and it hasn't been a problem. Not something I worry too much about since everything else is going fine. I do still take a prenatal multivitamin.