Your body is an amazing thing. If breastfeeding, you solely provide the food for a baby for at least the first six months of its life. It is a special bond between mother and baby.
A few things you need to know about breastfeeding and riding:
- It’s a supply and demand system. You need to keep up the breastfeeds in order to make more milk. It’s not a good idea to miss feeds.
- In the early days you may not have much time in between feeds to actually do anything. Babies feed a lot and take ages.
- You need to time it right. If you go ‘over due’ for a feed you may get milk leakage. Wearing breast pads while riding is not cool.
- No matter what age they are, they often just want mummy. Sometimes you have to abandon a ride and just be a mummy.
- Supportive partners and other baby sitters are critical to ensure you keep the relationship with your bike alive.
So how can you still continue to breastfeed and get out for a ride?
Supply and demand
If you haven’t had a baby before you may not know the basics of breastfeeding. It’s a supply and demand system. You need to breastfeed the baby in order for you to make more milk. The baby drinks the milk, and your body gets the message to produce that volume again for the next feed.
Yep, that’s how cows continue to lactate and provide milk for a long time after the birth of a calf (even when the calf is taken away). They are milked and that signals the body to make more milk.
So it’s important to continue breastfeeding regularly to keep up supply. If you miss a breastfeed then supply for the next day goes down and you have a cranky hungry baby.
Yes you can supplement with formula, but in order not to affect your supply you will need to express the missed feed. Expressing is not a fun experience (don’t believe those photos of ladies smiling while attached to a breast pump).
Timing and length of feeds
Here is an idea of how often a baby needs feeding and how long it takes:
- Early days – 6 months. By six weeks your milk supply has established and you should have more of an idea of what you are doing. During the early days babies can take ages to feed. They might take 30-45 mins! Then they get sleepy again because it’s taken them so long. My babies continued to breastfeed every 2-3 hours up until about 6 months old (yes, that includes throughout the night). This leaves 1-1.5 hours of ride time. At this age I’d usually plan to ride as soon as I finished a feed. I’d have peace of mind that my baby was not going to starve while I was riding.
- 6 months – 12 months. Baby will feed every 4-5 hours. But if you are extra lucky like me, they will want to feed every 2-3 hours overnight. Thankfully by this stage they are faster at breastfeeding, and they also eat real food. But lookout, they are more aware of you now and probably get cranky when you gear up for a ride. You might have to settle them to sleep and then sneak out to prevent the tears.
- 1 year +. Baby is probably feeding morning, midday and evening. Then again during the night if they wake up. So by the time bubs is 1 year old you have a fair bit of flexibility to fit in rides.
It’s a bit to juggle, but completely possible. And you will feel so much better after going for a ride!
Just remember to eat and drink before, during and after riding to replenish your body and keep up your milk supply.
There are also breastfeeding sports bras available. I like to have a quick shower after a ride, so I never felt the need to wear a specific ‘feeding sports bra’. However there have been occasions where this would be handy (e.g., post race).
And just in case you were wondering, there are super women out there who ride motor bikes at the same time as breastfeeding!
Photo: Woman breastfeeding toddler while riding moped