This photo of a mom breastfeeding after completing a triathlon is going viral for all the right reasons
Katrina Bolduc, 28, has already completed five triathlons, but the one she finished this Sunday proved the most rewarding. Why: It was the new mom's first triathlon since welcoming her son, Grayson, in December. It's the first child for the San Luis Obispo, California, yoga instructor, who previously was told she couldn't have children. And the endurance athlete (seriously, she was training for an Iron Man before she learned she was pregnant) found getting in shape post-baby a mental and physical challenge.
"I think all of us as new moms are a little body-shamed by people everywhere," Bolduc told SELF. "I've always been active, but even I found myself kind of in that rut, and it was a little bit harder to get back into the endurance shape that I was used to."
To motivate herself to get moving, Bolduc signed up for a series of races: three 10K races, followed up by a sprint triathlon. Bolduc wanted to prove to herself and other moms that even with a newborn, women can get back to being active.
"I think sometimes society kind of pushes [new moms] aside and expects us to stay at home and not work out and just be a mom," Bolduc says. "But I believe—and I think I'm proof of that—that we can be so much more. We continue to be part of a fitness community and have goals and we can still get our training in."
But training with a newborn proved difficult. Before Grayson, Bolduc could just hit the ground running when it was time to log miles or head to the pool when she needed to get in laps. Now, she had to adjust her training around Grayson's schedule, including his regular breastfeeding sessions. She couldn't be far from him, but she was determined to make it work. Her runs now included a stroller with Grayson along for the ride, and all her bike training moved to a stationary bike. "I didn't have the ability to go out on long rides," she says. "But I definitely wanted to prove to myself that I can do it."
She completed the three 10Ks—at 6.1 miles each—first, and then had the much more demanding sprint triathlon on July 24. The triathlon included a half mile swim, a 12.4-mile bike ride, and a final 3.1-mile run. Before taking off at the starting line, the mom breastfed her son. And when she triumphantly completed the triathlon, the sweaty but proud mom was greeted by a familiar sight: a hungry baby.
"I saw my husband and my son right at the finish line, and I went through the finish line, got my medal, grabbed some water, and immediately came out and my husband said, 'He's hungry,'" Bolduc says. "I had an easy-access top on. We were right there at the finish line, and I unzipped my top. He latched right on, and he was as happy as can be. He looked up, smiling at me."
And to her delight, the other athletes and spectators at the finish line didn't mind at all. Some people walked by not noticing, while others went out of their way to congratulate the mom.
"The fact that people choose to say something like, 'Congrats, mama,' versus just walking by made me feel really good," Bolduc says. "I think it's an acknowledgement of, 'Wow, you're a mom and you just finished this race and now you're feeding your child.' It was so much more than, 'Oh, good job you finished a race.'"
Bolduc was so moved by her positive public breastfeeding experience that she asked her husband to take a photo. She says she's used to reading about the negative experiences women have when feeding in public. She wanted to show women that there are good breastfeeding stories out there.
"I didn't have any negative experiences at all—people knew what I was doing and everyone was happy," she says. "That was also just another confidence booster for me, because I don't think several months ago I would have been as comfortable as I was to be like, 'Ok, you're hungry, I'm going to feed you right now.'"
She posted the photo of her breastfeeding Grayson to the Facebook group Breastfeeding Mama Talk, and it quickly went viral. The commenters congratulated Bolduc, and some shared their own postpartum fitness stories. A few moms even commented with photos of them breastfeeding their own newborns after completing athletic events, like a judo competition and a half marathon. Bolduc hopes her photo will spread the message that new moms can do anything—whether it's train for a triathlon or breastfeed in public.
"My hope is people will share the light and the love surrounding breastfeeding and motherhood and going out and being active," she says. "And also focus on the positive rather than the negative. And just girl power—we can do it."
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