Can mothers exercise and breastfeed successfully? In this article, we dive into some of the myths about breastfeeding and exercise to help you feel more confident in your postpartum exercise plans!
As if health and exercise aren’t already difficult enough – doing it while growing another human, or feeding that human with your own body, makes it 10x harder.
You’re not sure what to do, what is harmful if it will cause less milk production, or how to schedule it around feedings/pumping schedules. So let’s debunk a few myths that JUST AREN’T TRUE about breastfeeding and working out.
Hi! 👋 I’m Katie, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant I have helped thousands of moms worldwide navigate their breastfeeding journey since 2015. I can’t wait to help you! Consider checking out my 1:1 lactation support services or enrolling in one of our online breastfeeding courses today!
Myth #1: Exercise Lower Milk Supply
WRONG! Exercise in and of itself shouldn’t affect your milk supply, especially when you are doing moderate-intensity exercises.
One issue that I do see is that a mother loses too much water through sweating, which throws off her electrolytes. I definitely would recommend drinking electrolytes (Redmond Relyte is our personal favorite) while exercising to prevent this.
The other issue I see is that a mom starts exercising and cuts calories (and especially carbs) significantly at the same time. This may impact your supply negatively.
TIP: Keep a bottle of water around you at all times, it’s recommended that you drink 10-12 cups of water a day, and the more you exercise and sweat, the more you should drink. Make sure to focus on eating a balanced diet with whole foods and less sugar.
Myth #2: Exercising Causes Your Milk to Taste Bad
Some women claim to notice that their breastmilk tastes sourer after exercise based on the fact that some lactic acid can be found in your milk.
While the second part is true, a recent study has shown that your baby typically will not notice this taste or refuse the breast after exercise.
It is perfectly healthy to breastfeed your baby after exercise regardless, and this will NOT hurt them in any way.
TIP: However, do shower so your baby doesn’t taste the saltiness on your skin, which may turn them away.
Myth #3: Exercise Impacts the Nutritional Content of Breast Milk
This has also been shown to be incorrect. Your breast milk isn’t being negatively impacted by exercising. Another study showed that mothers who exercised had babies that grew just as well as mothers who didn’t.
Plus, exercise helps you in so many ways. A happy and healthy mama usually leads to a happy and healthy baby!
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Myth #4 You should pump right after breastfeeding
This is typically touted by those who think that you can’t breastfeed because of the lactic acid that is built up while you are exercising.
Lactic acid in your breast milk shouldn’t impact whether or not you can breastfeed, so you can continue to breastfeed as soon as you are done exercising. I do recommend trying to nurse right before exercising, though, just to decrease the chance of you leaking or feeling uncomfortable.
Myth #5 Exercising causes clogged ducts
This is a partial myth. There are exercises that may be linked with clogged ducts – such as lifting weights – as they are associated with repetitive arm movements. Some moms have experienced clogs from this.
Wearing too tight of a sports bra can also lead to clogged ducts because of the constriction. I recommend buying a specially-made nursing sports bra to prevent this. This sports bra from Kindred Bravely is great (use code CC15 for 15% off).
Beyond that, exercise really shouldn’t increase your incidence of clogs, especially if you try and nurse before.
What myths about exercise and breastfeeding have you heard? Let us know in the comments! Then check out this article for the best workouts while breastfeeding
ARTICLES YOU MAY ENJOY:
- 11 of the Best Ways to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
- Sudden Drop in Milk Supply? 15 Things That Might Be the Culprit.
- 13 Foods That Support Healthy Breast Milk Supply
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.