A common concern for new mums is whether returning to exercise will have a negative effect on breast milk.
Good news – there’s no evidence to support a detrimental effect from exercise.
Once you’ve received the go-ahead to exercise safely from your doctor or midwife (and been checked for a tummy gap – see below*) there’s no reason to stay on the sofa. In fact, the benefits that come from exercise are immeasurable (improved mood, better sleep and energy, time for you – to name a few).
You’ll need to find the best time for you and baby to exercise – most women we’ve talked to find this is after feeding time so it’s more comfortable, and this will also give you peace of mind that your little one should be more settled without you close by for a short time. And remember ladies, wear a supportive bra – now more than ever you need to look after yourself.
The book ‘Exercising Through Your Pregnancy’ by James Clapp and Catherine Cram is a good resource I’d highly recommend. In this book they cover Fitness Guidelines for the postpartum period. Specifically they talk about the “Physiological Changes of Lactation and Their Influence on exercise during the Postpartum Period“. In this section they state:
“Experience has shown that women who exercise regularly while they are breast-feeding spontaneously increase their caloric intakes to the appropriate level [to meet the needs of infant suckling]”, but the same is not true for fluid intake. Therefore, women who wish to combine exercise with breast-feeding should be aware that to avoid volume depletion and poor performance in both areas, they must drink adequate quantities of fluid at regular intervals throughout the day.”
It’s obvious if you think about it – producing sweat from exercise and milk for your baby both require liquid. If you increase your level of exercise but not your intake of fluids then the quantity of milk produced may suffer.
The facts are proven, as Clapp and Cram note,
“…studies over the last decade support the view that such exercise does not have adverse effects on milk production or infant growth if the woman is healthy… This view is supported by a large volume of experimental findings gathered about breast-feeding women who did many forms of exercise, at moderate or high intensities, for both short and long periods, as frequently as six times a week.”
Top Tip: STAY HYDRATED – read facts about hydration and dehydration
*VERY IMPORTANT – If you’ve got a tummy gap (diastasis) then not all forms of exercise are safe for you at this point in time – that could include running, high impact/intensity exercise and any movements that involve twisting or increased abdominal pressure. If you’re concerned then read this article we wrote to find out if this applies to you. We are more than happy to see you in the postnatal period, prior to resuming or taking up exercise to check you abdominals – call Lynne on 07985 251185 to make arrangements to be seen.