How to Comfortably Exercise While Breastfeeding
Does working-out decrease my milk supply? I am three months postpartum.
Safe and comfortable exercise postpartum is good for mommy; and what’s good for mommy is good for baby. To answer your question, working-out per se will not decrease your milk supply. But of course, anything done to extreme can throw things in your system out of balance. It is always best to begin slowly and build up the amount of time and level of effort you spend. There may be other factors at this stage of your breastfeeding relationship that can decrease your supply, so if you suspect your milk supply is slowing down look at our updated edition of The Breastfeeding Book. And we do know that stress can affect milk supply. So, check in with your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health/motives when starting any workout program. Listen to how our mind and body react and adjust accordingly.
Postpartum Exercise Tips
Getting back to your exercise routine at three months postpartum is good timing! Consider these exercise/breastfeeding tips below.
Support Your Breasts
Wear a well-fitting cotton athletic-support bra to reduce nipple friction during vigorous exercise.
Drink a couple glasses of water before you exercise, sip water while exercising, and drink a couple glasses of water after you exercise. Unless you are a professional athlete, just plain water is fine and much more nutritious than sports drinks. Or make your own sports drink: one-quarter pomegranate juice to three-quarters water; add a squirt of lemon.
Get your Milk Out Before your Workout
Enjoy a nice long feed before you begin your workout. Not only will this satisfy and settle baby, it will make your breasts more comfortable during a brisk walk or jog.
The worry and precautions about breastfeeding after exercise is based on faulty science and needless worry. Years ago, it was thought that after vigorous exercise the exercising muscles produced lactic acid, which, in theory, could give breastmilk a bitter taste. Yet, when mothers limit themselves to moderate exercise rather than working out to the level of exhaustion this worry is unlikely. If, however, your baby does seem fussy while breastfeeding after your exercise, wait a half-hour or more and then offer your breast again.
Rinse-Off Before Feeding
Another theoretic possibility is sweating during exercise could cause the skin around your nipples to have a sweaty odor or salty taste. Since babies are accustomed to the sweet smell and taste of mother’s milk this may be a surprising put-off. If you suspect this, simply rinse or shower before a post-exercise feeding.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”