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Exercising while breastfeeding

Exercising while breastfeeding

MeganBy Megan Thole

All you need to know about exercising while breastfeeding:

A major concern of a number of moms who are currently breastfeeding is that exercise, especially high intensity exercise, will affect their milk and breastfeeding.

Is there cause for concern?…

Studies that were conducted in the past speculated that exercise resulted in higher concentrations of lactic acid in the breast milk, which made the milk less appealing to the baby and therefore affected the feeding.

More recent studies have indicated that the methodology behind these experiments was not reliable and have subsequently disproved this theory. It has been shown that there is no significant increase in lactic acid concentration in the breast milk following moderate intensity or submaximal exercise. However, there is a noticeable increase in lactic acid concentation following high intensity or maximal exercise. BUT these quantitities are not harmful to your baby and studies have shown that your milk is no less appealing to your baby than normal and therefore, your ability to feed after an intense training session is not reduced. So there is no reason why you can’t feed after an exercise session.

If you are still concerned, attempt to structure your training sessions so that you can feed or express beforehand so that you can exercise with peace of mind. It has been shown that the lactic acid has cleared from your breastmilk approximately 90 minutes after your high intensity exercise session so your milk will be back to its ‘normal’composition for your next feed.

If you find that your little one is less interested in feeding after you have exercised, it could be the saltiness from the sweat on your body so try showering or washing your breasts before feeding.

Another concern for moms is that the volume of breastmilk production will be adversely affected if you engage in moderate to high intensity exercise. This belief has not been confirmed by any studies, and in fact it is believed that exercise has a positive affect on breast milk production because it has a positive impact on both physical and emotional well being, which is essential to both mom and baby.

If you do experience a reduction in breast milk production, it is possible that you are not sufficiently rehydrating, which is essential in milk production; or you are experiencing a negative caloric balace – this means that you are expending more energy than you are taking in, which means that your body does not have the necessary resources and cannot produce enough milk. This is essential for anyone who is engaging in an exercise routine!! Stay hydrated during and after exercise and replace the calories that you have expended!

 Key factors to keep in mind when exercising:

  • Stay hydrated. Water is a major component in breast milk, therefore, if there is not sufficient water, there will not be sufficient milk
  • Replenish energy supplies by eating a snack. This is not the time to lose weight by depriving yourself of food. Your body requires energy supplies i.e. food to make milk
  • Wear a good sports bra that provides sufficient support, especially when doing high impact and jumping exercises or running
  • Express or feed beforehand to reduce your breast volume, in order to avoid injury to your muscles and joints, and breasts.

If you adhere to these guidelines, there is no reason why you can’t have a lifestyle that includes exercise while breastfeeding. Happy exercising!!