Breastfeeding and Exercise - Top 5 Essential Tips
In this article we’ll look at how breastfeeding and exercise can work together to improve the health of you and your baby. If you have any questions about your physical or mental health you should talk to your doctor about it straight away.
Here are my top 5 tips to get the most of out of breastfeeding and exercise…
1. What To Wear
The most important consideration is your choice of bra. It should fit you well and be able to adjust as your breasts change shape over the next few months. Breast pads are another good investment, to stop any embarrassing leakage coming through to your outer clothing.
You can buy sports bras designed for nursing moms, which have opening flaps and this makes quick feeds much easier, which you might want to consider getting.
WARNING: Wearing a sports bra that is too tight for long periods of time could lead to mastitis - which is where breast tissue gets inflamed, swollen, hot, tender and possibly infected.
TAKEAWAY TIP - Get yourself a couple of adjustable nursing sports bras, with breast pads to stay comfortable and dry during your workouts
2. When To Exercise
If you’ve had a normal delivery without any complications, then you can probably start doing some gentle activities within a few days of the birth. But if you’ve had Cesarean delivery, you’ll need to allow enough time to fully heal and for your doctors clearance before you begin.
Breastfeeding and exercise will only work if you plan when to do your workouts as much as possible. Feeding before exercise is best but you might need to grab opportunities to do activity whenever they arise.
You probably won’t get in to a regular pattern in the early days of breastfeeding and exercise might be something you do whenever you can. Instead why not set some weekly targets. For example, ‘this week I will do 4 x 20 minutes brisk walks pushing my baby in a stroller’ or ‘over the next 7 days I will follow along with an exercise DVD at home 3 times.’
TAKEAWAY TIP: Try short workouts while your baby sleeps if you have the energy or when you have someone to look after your little one!
3. How Hard Should It Feel
Low intensity exercise is best to begin with because it has no negative effect on the quality of breast milk, in fact studies show, contrary to what many people believe, doing moderately easy exercise may actually increase breast milk production, so breastfeeding and exercise really can complement each other.
However very high intensity exercise close to exhaustion may cause a slight bitterness in taste.
If you were fit and active before the birth or before you became pregnant, you could get back to that level much quicker and safer than someone who was not very active before they became pregnant.
TAKEAWAY TIP: Do the ‘talk test’ - you should still be able to hold a conversation whilst working out.
4. How Breastfeeding and Exercise Affects Your Milk
To produce good breast milk, you’ll need 500 calories a day, or that’s to say that breastfeeding moms will burn off 500 calories just producing the milk itself.
ATTENTION: If you notice that your baby refuses to feed after you’ve exercised, it may not be what you expect…
1. Your usual sweet tasting milk may taste slightly bitter due to the lactic acid that your body produces. However this is only when you exercise to near exhaustion. To fix this you can wait for 30 minutes to feed or reduce the intensity of your workouts.
2. After exercise, your nipples and milk may taste salty. So shower afterwards or wipe the breasts with a damp sponge before feeding.
Drinking water is vital, if you’re dehydrated you may not produce enough milk. Experts recommend drinking 2 litres of water every day.
TAKEAWAY TIP: Keep a bottle of water with you at all times so you can sip on it throughout the day. Sipping is easier than gulping down large amounts in one go.
5. What Sort Of Exercise Should You Do?
Breastfeeding and exercise can help you lose weight. But only do as much as you feel comfortable. Remember to start easy - short spells of low intensity activity such as gentle yoga, pilates, cycling, walking with your baby in a stroller or swimming are great choices.
Gentle exercise makes your body produce serotonin which is a natural ‘feel good’ hormone and this can help to improve your mood when you’re feeling tired and sleep deprived.
Light weight training can help to tighten and tone your body and aerobic exercises such as swimming, cycling or brisk walking will help fitness levels, improve circulation whilst boosting your mood.
TAKEAWAY TIP: With full breasts, some movements could feel uncomfortable, so why not express some milk in to a bottle or feed you baby before exercising
If you want to get in to shape fast after having your baby, and find out how other new moms just like you are making it happen. Go here to find out more - The Baby Belly Fat Loss Plan
About the Author of 'Breastfeeding and Exercise - Top 5 Essential Tips': Jago Holmes
I'm the founder of New Image Personal Training here in the UK and an experienced personal trainer myself for over 20 years.
Over the last 10 years I've spent much of my time creating a range of 'Do It Yourself' health and fitness programs, so you can get the exact same results as my wonderful one to one personal clients do for a fraction of the cost! You'll have access to all my years of experience so you can be sure to find the quickest way to achieving whatever fitness goal you have.
On Jagoholmes.com, I want to help you to become the BEST version of "YOU' possible.