Breastfeeding and Bikini competition

Ok, I went back and forth on this post for a while.  Mostly because I feel sort of awkward talking about breastfeeding, but  also because I didn’t want to be judged for my decision to compete. Since breastfeeding is something I really believe in, and  since I couldn’t find much information on this topic when I was researching it, I thought I would share my experience with you. Although I can’t speak from the experience of breastfeeding an infant (my son is a toddler) while competing, I think much of what I learned would apply to younger babies too.

After pre-judging visiting the bambino

After pre-judging visiting the bambino

The first thing you may wonder when competing is how the diet will affect your milk supply. Since I competed  for the first time when my son was 15 months, it wasn’t a big issue. My supply was well established and he was eating plenty of solids so I didn’t have to worry too much about him getting enough milk. That said, I did keep my calories relatively high for a competition diet (around 1800-2000). Breastfeeding burns about 300-500 calories per day and for my normal diet I eat around 2400 calories, so that was enough of a deficit for me to lean down without starving. I was also very well hydrated, drinking over a gallon of water a day. The most important factor in maintaining a healthy supply is breastfeeding regularly. In fact, most lactation consultants will point out that our bodies have adapted to survive through harsh conditions and that women have been able to breastfeed through droughts and famine. That said, I would NOT recommend taking your calories below 1500 for any lactating mama, especially one working out like a fiend. I also would NOT recommend manipulating sodium and water intake in your final week whether or not you are lactating. There have been a few cases recently where competitors have suffered heart and/or pancreas failure due to dehydration.

Supplements were another concern of mine. I talked to my doctor and did research on my own before supplementing. The supplements I used were: Protein powder, Glutamine, Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc, Multivitamin, Vitamin E, Collagen, and Biotin. I did NOT use a fat burner. Heck, breastfeeding is its own kind of fat burner, right? Since whey protein is often the main source of protein in formula, my doctor said not to worry about protein powder, just make sure there were not a lot of additives or other supplements mixed in. I used Dymatize Elite ISO-100, which has a small ingredient list. It does have splenda in it though, so if you are not ok with that, you may want to do some research on natural brands of protein powder (Jay Robb, etc.)  A great resource for breastfeeding moms is the website Kellymom.com. Here is a link to the page where vitamin supplements are described in relation to breastfeeding.

Biotin (a B vitamin), calcium, zinc, magnesium, and most of the vitamins in my multivitamin are water soluable and should not affect your breastmilk or baby. You need to be careful with your vitamin A & E intake though, since they are fat soluable and can accumulate in your milk. Gultamine and Collagen are both essentially made up of amino acids that occur naturally in the body. Gultamine helps with recovery and Collagen helps maintain healthy skin. Both should not affect your baby if you are taking the recommended doseage. While it is not necessary to take supplements, It is a good idea to supplement vitamins if you are going to be cutting calories while breastfeeding. If you have trouble getting enough protein, you may consider supplementing with a whey shake, especially after your workout when your body is primed to use protein for building muscle.

Closer to the competition my main concern with breastfeeding was competition day and the tan. Since I had the experience of competing once before I got pregnant, I knew what a pain the spray tan is. It is so easy to mess up your tan and I was really worried that I would not be able to breastfeed and/or hold my baby once I got sprayed. Here’s what worked for me: The week before the show I made sure to exfoliate well especially on my chest. I wore “Lily Pads” (silicone nipple covers) to get spray tanned so my baby wouldn’t have to eat the tan to breastfeed. Once tanned and DRY I went home and was able to breastfeed, keeping most of my body covered with a robe or loose henley top. Feeding my son did not really mess up my tan, but I was careful of how much contact he had directly with my skin. I was lucky because both shows I participated in were relatively close to my home (less than an hour away). This meant I could feed my son first thing in the morning, drive to the competition site to get hair and make-up, do the pre-judging then come home for a quick break before the night show to feed again. Once I finished the night show I went home to feed him to sleep. If you are competing away from home. I recommend pumping at least 3 times throughout the day. I use a Lansinoh pump and usually pump for about 15 minutes to make sure I am empty. The pump did not mess up my tan or leave lines that were visible outside of my suit.

Overall, the experience was a lot  easier than I thought it would be. I hope this can help some lactating moms out there who are interested in competing. Please shae your experience if you have one.

 

XOXOX

FitVal

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13 Comments

Thank you! Very helpful, especially the supplement section! Congrats on son and competition 🙂

Thank you! I plan to start my first comp training schedule jan 1st and I’m still breastfeeding my one yr old. I was worried about supplements. Thanks for the info!

Thanks for this! I am just getting started with prepping for my first competition, and as I’m breastfeeding my 15-month-old (and it’s a priority for me to keep doing so), it’s been a big concern for me.

    Hi Emily,

    Good luck with your competition. It was a big concern for me too. but I think once the day is there, try not to stress about it and you will be able to make it work. Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

Very great information! I am currently breastfeeding my 8 week old and I am in training for a competition May 10th . I am on a carb cycle diet and was also nervous how the high protein intake would affect breastfeeding. Still super nervous as its my first show and i hope everything goes smoothly. As a mom of 3 i really have to work to find the time and dedication. Thanks for sharing!

My coach was asking about carb depletion and water depletion …. im not too comfortable about the water I really want to continue breastfeeding my daughter she is 16 m. (6weeks out)

Mommapowers, I know you weren’t addressing me but u have been through it. I didn’t water deplete at all actually. I drank a gallon of water everyday up to competition day. I refused to do that to my body while trying to nurse especially with the carb depletion. The carb depletion curbed my supply a bit and I supplemented a couple times with frozen bm but other than that I had no major issues.

Val, thank you for this post!!! I’m still breastfeeding my toddler and plan to compete soon. I’ve been so worried about how to manage nursing and the tan :/ he still nurses all the time. He’s also never beeb away from every long. The show is an hour away, we’ll likely all go stay the night at a nearby hotel… We still bed share too! Not sure still how to manage the tan from the day before, co sleeping and nursing! But you give me hope!!! Xo chris

    Chris,

    Thanks for the message! You can totally do it! I was in the same situation let me know if you have any questions but I am sure you will figure it out! Good Luck 🙂

This was so helpful. I’m so happy you posted this I’m going to be doing my first comp while nursing a 12 month old.

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