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Is It Safe to Exercise While Breastfeeding?

Updated on March 11, 2015
Scientific research has found that exercise has no harmful effects on a breastfeeding mother or baby, and can actually be quite beneficial.
Scientific research has found that exercise has no harmful effects on a breastfeeding mother or baby, and can actually be quite beneficial. | Source

Both before and after you have a baby, physical exercise can help lose you any excess weight, stay healthy and feel more energetic, just to name a few potential benefits. However, a great deal of confusion exists regarding the impact of physical exercise on the supply and quality of your milk while you are breastfeeding.

Many new mothers have heard widespread rumors of a potentially harmful impact on their breast milk if they exercise regularly. Fortunately, these rumors have largely been disproven by scientific study. Of course, if you have any issues with your breast milk supply or quality, you should seek help from your doctor to determine the problemĀ“s cause.

Milk Supply

One of the most prevalent concerns regarding exercise and breastfeeding is that you may notice a decreased or even insufficient milk supply for your baby after you begin regular exercise. According to scientific research, however, this is simply not true. Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC -- an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant -- reports that exercise itself will not cause any decrease in milk volume, and that some limited studies have even found a connection between exercise and increased breast milk supply.

Exercise has not been found to cause a decrease in the milk supply of breastfeeding mothers.
Exercise has not been found to cause a decrease in the milk supply of breastfeeding mothers. | Source

Lactic Acid

Another widespread concern regarding this topic is a potential connection between exercise and elevated levels of lactic acid in breast milk. However, moderately intense exercise has not been found to cause any significant change in lactic acid levels. Extremely intense exercise may lead to somewhat higher lactic acid levels for about 90 minutes after you finish your workout, but this has not been found to be harmful to the baby.

Lactic acids in a breastfeeding mother's milk may rise slightly after exercise, but this is only temporary and not harmful to the baby.
Lactic acids in a breastfeeding mother's milk may rise slightly after exercise, but this is only temporary and not harmful to the baby. | Source

Nursing Difficulty

Finally, some mothers worry that their baby may be less willing to nurse after exercise. Like the first two issues, though, this has been found not to be a cause for concern by scientific study. As long as you shower after your workout, exercise should not be responsible for any nursing difficulties.

Research has not found exercising to cause any significant problems with a newborn's willingness to nurse.
Research has not found exercising to cause any significant problems with a newborn's willingness to nurse. | Source

General Considerations

To ensure that your body is able to continue properly producing milk for your baby, you should be careful to drink plenty of water and to eat a healthy diet. If you notice any decrease in supply or other issues with your breast milk, you should seek help from your physician immediately.

Proper hydration and nutrition are always essential for healthy breastfeeding.
Proper hydration and nutrition are always essential for healthy breastfeeding. | Source

Which method of feeding a baby do you prefer?

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What is your favorite type of exercise after having a baby?

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    • profile image

      Open 

      3 years ago

      I have triplets. It was inarotpmt to me to BF them. It was also very inarotpmt to me to keep them on a schedule. In order to keep the schedule, I felt I needed to know exactly how much food they were getting. This ment that in order to feed my babes breast milk, I needed to pump. I did and my babes got breastmilk for 7 months. The first 6 weeks I faithfully pumped every 3 hours. I produced a ton and they ate so little (being preemies). I was able to get so much freezer stock that my freezer only held breast milk and I had the top 1/3 of my chest freezer (no pun intended!lol) full, too. After 6 weeks I started to gradually slow down how often I pumped (It was getting too busy to keep the every 3 hour schedule) I would use the fresh milk and some of the freezer stock if needed. I did this until I was only pumping before bed. I was able to go 7 months. I wish I could have gone the whole 1st year. (So does our pocket book yozah is formula expensive!!!!!) I dearly missed the bonding that comes with bf your babies. (I have 2 older children that I bf for 1 year each) But, it was nice to escape and be alone to pump for 15 minutes every so often.

    • profile image

      win-winresources 

      3 years ago from Colorado

      I never had any problems, but then I should probably ask my wife.

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