The Postpartum Female Athlete: How Sports Medicine Can Help You

Even though you are used to running marathons and you were very athletic throughout your entire pregnancy, you may have some lingering health questions after your baby is born. The postpartum female athlete faces many challenges, and you want to know how to face those challenges and still return to your pre-baby exercise routines. Consulting doctors who specialize in sports medicine can help you in the following ways.

Returning to Sports and Nursing

In fact, if you ask a lactation consultant about exercise and the production of breastmilk, you may be surprised to learn that exercise will not only increase production, but also increase endorphins in your milk supply. "Happy milk" makes for a happier baby, and as long as you are drinking plenty of water throughout your workout and after your workout is finished, you should have no problems producing plenty of this endorphin-laced breastmilk.

If you are also worried about medium- to high-impact exercise routines, such as running and jogging, and the impact it has on your breasts, invest in sports bras for fuller figures and high-impact activities. Then the strain of the breasts (when they are fully laden with milk) will not hurt as much when you exercise. You might invest in high-impact/full figure sports bras that are also nursing bras. These can be found through specialty stores, and your sports medicine doctor may have some info on these specialty retailers.

Returning to Sports and Postpartum Depression

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that ten to fifteen percent of all new mothers experience postpartum depression. Returning to a previously active and/or athletic lifestyle significantly reduces your risks of experiencing the baby blues. If you think you might be experiencing postpartum depression, you can request a psych evaluation from a doctor or therapist at a sports medicine clinic. Since athletes who are laid up and recuperating from major injuries often experience mild to moderate depression as a result of the decrease in endorphins from lack of exercise, a clinical therapist or psychiatrist is often on hand at the sports clinics to help.

Once you and the therapist or doctor have ascertained if your blues are baby-related, the best recourse is to return to some form of activity as soon as possible. If you had to take things down a few notches toward the end of your pregnancy, you will need to start slowly and work your way back up again. A few weeks postpartum and your doctor may give you the okay to crank up the workout. 

Contact a center like Rainbow Pediatrics to learn more.