Exercising while Breastfeeding
Exercise • • 1 minute to read • By INFS Faculty
Exercising While Breastfeeding – Concern for new moms?
Exercise is very crucial for breastfeeding mothers. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress and assist with treating post-natal depression. It aids in mental well-being, and stress reduction, and functions better in day-to-day life post-delivery. New mothers might find it challenging to get back to their fitness journey but having a baby shouldn’t stop but rather motivate them to pursue their fitness journey. But there can be certain questions or doubts regarding exercise while breastfeeding.
Here are certain facts to keep in mind for breastfeeding mothers who are planning to start their fitness journey:
Exercise and Immunologic factors in Milk :
Gregory et al. discovered in 1997 that IgA levels (antibodies that fight infections) in breastmilk were reduced for a brief period of time (10-30 minutes) when mothers exercised vigorously, but that levels rebounded to normal within an hour. It was observed that IgA levels rose after the breast was emptied, regardless of whether the mom had been exercising hard. In 2003, Lovelady et al. studied immunologic variables (IgA, lactoferrin, and lysozyme) in breastmilk following moderate exercise and found no differences between exercising and non-exercising mothers' milk.
Exercise and Taste of the Milk:
Some old wives' tales advise against strenuous exercise because it can affect the taste of the milk, making it difficult for newborns to feed. This can be because of the lactic acid build-up post-exercise. Studies have shown no effects on the lactic acid build in nursing mothers who are consuming sufficient calories. While lactic acid levels in breastmilk can rise after vigorous exercise, light or moderate exercise with RPE 12 has no effect on lactic acid levels in breastmilk or on a baby who consumes the milk.
Infant Acceptance of Postexercise Breast Milk
Some studies have shown infants rejecting breastmilk post strenuous activity as it can build-up
the lactic acid content in breast milk, which might influence the milk's flavor.
If this happens, consider pumping and discarding the breast milk post 30 mins of the activity or wait for 30-45 mins to nurse the baby post-workout.
Exercise, Milk supply, and Nutrients in breast milk:
Contrary to popular belief, studies suggest no difference in milk supply and the nutritional content of the milk.
Studies have shown that phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium contents in milk were not affected by maximal exercise. Hence, Exercise during breastfeeding is not contraindicated in terms of mineral concentrations in milk. Aerobic exercise can enhance cardiovascular fitness without compromising milk output, composition, or baby development in lactating mothers.
Tips for new mothers :
- Consider feeding the child before the workout session to avoid any pain or discomfort during the session.
- Invest in a well-fitted, supportive bra.
- Avoid prone positions, this might get uncomfortable as it compresses the breast and causes milk glands pain.
- Avoid exercise if there is a development of mastitis, an inflammatory condition accompanied by pain, heat, redness, as well as fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms.
- Hydration is the key to lactation. Keep sipping water in between and after the session.
- Larson‐Meyer, D.E., 2002. Effect of postpartum exercise on mothers and their offspring: a review of the literature. Obesity Research, 10 (8), pp.841-853.
- Dewey, K.G., Lovelady, C.A., Nommsen-Rivers, L.A., McCrory, M.A. and Lonnerdal, B., 1994. A randomized study of the effects of aerobic exercise by lactating women on breast-milk volume and composition. New England Journal of Medicine, 330 (7), pp.449-453.
- Lovelady, C.A., Hunter, C.P. and Geigerman, C., 2003. Effect of exercise on immunologic factors in breast milk. Pediatrics, 111 (2), pp.e148-e152.
- Gregory, R.L., Wallace, J.P., Gfell, L.E., Marks, J.E.N.N.I.F.E.R. and King, B.A., 1997. Effect of exercise on milk immunoglobulin A. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 29 (12), pp.1596-1601.
- Quinn, T.J. and Carey, G.B., 1999. Does exercise intensity or diet influence lactic acid accumulation in breast milk?. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 31 (1), pp.105-110.
- Wright, K.S., Quinn, T.J. and Carey, G.B., 2002. Infant acceptance of breast milk after maternal exercise. Pediatrics, 109 (4), pp.585-589.
- Fly, A.D., Uhlin, K.L. and Wallace, J.P., 1998. Major mineral concentrations in human milk do not change after maximal exercise testing. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 68 (2), pp.345-349.
- Wallace, J.P., Inbar, G. and Ernsthausen, K., 1992. Infant acceptance of post-exercise breast milk. Pediatrics, 89 (6), pp.1245-1247.
- Carey, G.B. and Quinn, T.J., 2001. Exercise and lactation: are they compatible?. Canadian Journal of applied physiology, 26 (1), pp.55-74
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