The Truth About Breastfeeding and Exercise

Have you ever wondered if breast milk alters after an exercise session? Or, do babies refuse to take the breast because it is too hot or tastes salty? Many new moms have asked those questions. The answers are based on the latest research and will eliminate many uncertainties about breastfeeding and exercise.

Before we indulge on the facts and myths about breastfeeding and exercise, let me congratulate you on your choice of nutrition for your newborn baby. No other food can come close to mother’s milk. It is the ultimate best and cheapest food on the market! Your baby will be immune to many little “bugs” as you give much needed anti-bodies. Your baby will also have a better protection against pulmonary diseases. As for you, the new mom, you will reduce the risks of breast and ovarian cancer, you will lose weight much faster once you have stopped breastfeeding and most of all, you will create a tight bond with your newborn.

According to the new guidelines, exercising is NOT a reason to stop breastfeeding. Research has shown no change in milk production or taste during exercising if executed within the guidelines.

“Will my milk supply be reduced due to exercise?”

According to studies, there has not been any reduction in milk supply in exercising moms.

“Will my milk taste sour due to lactic acid?”

If you exercise within the guidelines, the taste of the milk will not change. Many different studies have been performed on this subject. Few will mention that after very intense exercise, milk may have an altered taste. Others will say it makes no difference. Your newborn will feed between 6 and 12 times a day. Chances are that the other 5 to 11 times, your milk will taste fine.

“Will it change my milk quality?”

Results have shown no difference in milk quality unless extreme exercising is performed (2 hours or more intensively). Keep in mind that if your baby is growing and gaining weight normally, your milk is just perfect.

Choosing to breastfeed is giving your baby the best food possible. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy breastfeeding along with exercising.

* Hydrate yourself. Feeding your baby requires extra calories and fluids.
* Support your breasts. If needed, use a sports bra on top of your breastfeeding bra.
* Feed your baby before exercising. You will feel more comfortable if your breasts are less full.
* Feeding positions. Try bringing your baby to your breast instead of your breast to your baby. Postural positioning is important to avoid slouching or rounding of the shoulders. Raising the knees as your baby feeds will give you better support.
* Choose a facility with a daycare. You can bring your baby while you exercise at the gym. If you need to feed your baby, she/he will be close by.
* Listen to your body. Sleepless nights, sensitive nipples, eating when you can, adaptation to your new role…. All these things can make you feel tired or stressed. Listen to your body and rest when you can.
* Baby steps. Just like exercise during pregnancy, it should be approached gradually. At the beginning you should start slow and as time goes on, increase your intensity. Think of your baby and your needs first.

Being active during the postpartum period will give you energy for the nocturnal awakenings, daily activities, carrying baby and/or baby things and for your life in general. You will have the endurance, muscular strength and flexibility to adapt to your new role as a mom. It will also reduce the risks of postpartum depression.
Taking the time to give your baby the best nutrition is an investment for the future. After all, we are pregnant only once or twice (on average!) in a lifetime. Babies grow so fast; let’s enjoy this time.

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