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7 Questions You Might Have About Exercising Whilst Breastfeeding, Banner Image

7 Questions You Might Have About Exercising Whilst Breastfeeding

Updated 9 March 2022.

So, you’re pregnant, congratulations. Life is about to change in so many ways and your pregnancy journey will change your body in more ways than one. One of the least desired of these changes is weight gain. As the saying goes you are now eating for two (well maybe one and a half!) and are often craving some weird and wonderful things – things not always good for your waistline.

Doctors and health professionals will often advise you that weight gain is completely normal, after all, you are growing a baby inside you. Ensuring your baby is healthy takes precedence above weight concerns which can be contemplated after you have given birth.

The big day arrives. Your baby is born, and you are eager to get into a routine or get back to your exercise regime. Part of which is working towards getting your weight back to pre-baby days. Exercising and good eating are the best solution, but should your approach to exercising whilst breastfeeding change?

The simple act of nursing your baby burns around 300-400 calories a day as your body is working constantly to produce milk. But this is only part of the weight loss puzzle, and this alone may not rid all your excess weight. Exercise may be required to complete the puzzle.

This raises the question of what is and isn’t safe to do and how your milk supply may be affected. Moderate exercise will also improve your health and well-being and can give you some much needed “me” time to recharge your batteries.

So, let’s take a look at some of the common questions new mums ask.

Is Exercising Whilst Breastfeeding Safe?

In a word; yes. That does not mean go out and run a marathon but there is no evidence to suggest that moderate exercise is anything but beneficial for breastfeeding mums. As always listen to your body. If you are feeling abnormally fatigued or things just don’t feel right, stop and rest. The key is moderation.

Are There Any Exercise Guidelines?

This is a question you should ask your doctor as everyone is different. The most important thing is to consider your health and that of your baby and to make exercise work for you.

Don’t overdo it and take things at your own pace, doing exercise routines you know and feel comfortable with. Ideally exercise after feeding so your breasts won’t be full and uncomfortable (you’ll also avoid any leaking!).

Supporting your breasts during any physical activity is very important as the natural pregnancy weight added to the weight of the milk can make your breasts feel sore and may cause long term sagging, noooo!!! A high-support maternity sports bra is a must to support your breasts and to reduce excessive bounce common for women with larger breasts.

Can I Involve Baby During Exercise?

You certainly can. Whilst it is sometimes nice to take an hour on your own to focus on ‘you’ and to clear your head with a good workout. It can also be a great bonding experience for you and your baby to workout ‘together’.

Place your baby in a carrier and go for a power walk. Use a specially designed pram and take your baby for a run. Go even faster and tow baby in a buggy behind your bike for a trip to the shops. The possibilities are endless, and you often get to do a daily task and finish your workout routines at the same time.

Another great option is to join a local mother’s exercise group.

Mum's Exercise Group

Will Exercise Affect My Milk Supply?

Exercising does many good things to your body but it does not affect the supply of milk you naturally produce. As long as it is accompanied by an adequate, balanced diet.

Eat well and the amount and quality of milk you produce will not be affected no matter how much you exercise.

Does Lactic Acid Increase After Exercise?

There is no research that shows that lactic acid levels increase in the breastmilk of mothers who exercise moderately (50-75% intensity). This is a different story when you increase the intensity level to 100%. At this level, lactic acid levels in breastmilk do increase.

This is called exhaustive exercise and the increase in lactic acid levels in breast milk is present for around 90-minutes post-exercise, but it will go back down again. This isn’t a problem for the baby as there are no known harmful effects of feeding after intense exercise.

What About the Taste?

Ah, the old wives’ tale that exercising affects the taste of human milk. Not true, the only taste difference will be if you try to feed your baby and you haven’t showered!

Your sweat will leave a salty taste on your breast which your baby may not like. So have a shower or quickly rinse your breast before feeding. If you have a very hungry baby and don’t have time for a quick shower, simply give your breast a quick wipe to remove any sweat residue. Unless, of course, your baby likes the taste…

Mum Exercising With Daughter

Will My Baby Refuse the Breast After Exercise?

Much research has been done on babies accepting their mother’s breast after exercise, including after a maximum intensity exercise routine. A recent study noted there was no change in breast acceptance by babies after exercise.

If your baby is refusing the breast, then think of other factors. Are they distracted? Are they put off by the salty taste? Maybe they don’t like the increased lactic acid levels after your high-intensity exercise routine?

If this is a concern or becomes a problem, consider expressing before your workout and whipping out the breast pump before you start. It will make things more comfortable for you during the workout and baby afterwards.

What Other Reminders Do I Need to Heed Before Exercising?

Aside from the questions mentioned above, you may have some additional questions regarding recommendations for when you’re ready to go back to your exercise routine. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it’s best to ease into your exercise routine with moderate aerobic exercise first – just enough to raise your heart rate!

For breastfeeding mothers, you may tire easily as your body could still be going through an adjustment period. So, make sure you don’t push your body too much. Make sure you warm up before every exercise routine to start your blood flowing and to first fire up your muscles to avoid muscle pain or any tears and injuries that might happen.

Another reminder is that while exercising will not affect your milk supply, you’d still want to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and fluids. Keep a water bottle near you so you can take small sips throughout your workout. Just don’t drink too much so you wouldn’t need to cut your workout routine short to run to the bathroom!

As for workout wear, go for loose-fitting clothes that are comfortable enough for you to move around, but not loose enough to get caught in your equipment. You’ll also need a good sports bra that can both support and protect your breasts while you work out.

Find the perfect sports bra that’s specially designed for pregnant or breastfeeding moms, so you can easily navigate your new routine as a new mom – only at Sports Bras Direct. Start losing the weight you may have gained during your pregnancy the healthy way.

Yours in support.

Amy x

Amy Jaffers

Amy is the face behind Sports Bras Direct, Australia’s largest sports bra website. She's a mother of two, outdoors lover and sports bra expert. Her life mission is to help active women get the support they need as well as assisting women in need through her charitable donations.

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