If I had a dollar for everytime I get asked: “Won’t exercising reduce my milk supply?” I would be mega rich right now!
This information is simply not true. It has sabotaged a lot of mothers’ fitness goals and journeys, because they think they’re doing what’s best for their baby. But rest assured, there is no truth to this myth, because that is just what it is…a myth! Not only is it NOT harmful to your supply, but exercising in the postpartum period actually has many benefits far beyond simply getting back in shape (which is a great benefit all by itself!) You’ll have better sleep (and as moms we all know this is probably the number one most appealing benefit!!), more energy, and better sense of well being. You’ll get some much needed “me time” as well. I want you all to know that you can, and should, fit exercise into your day!
Exercise and Milk Supply
So how does this milk production thing work? The amount of milk a woman produces is, at its very basic, a matter of supply and demand. The more your baby nurses from you, the more milk you will produce. Another thing that could affect milk supply is calorie intake. If you’re not eating well and enough, your body won’t be making enough milk. And that may be where the myth that exercising reduces milk supply comes in. Exercise burns energy/calories, of course. So while staying active, it’s important to make up for the calories you’re losing by exercising. Now that doesn’t mean to go run out and buy alll the cookies and eat them all. You should try to eat well in general, but don’t be too worried about restricting calories right now. For more on this topic, see my blog post on dieting while breastfeeding. If you don’t, it could cause a reduction in milk supply, but again, this is due to not replacing the calories burned by exercise rather than the exercise itself.
What studies say about exercise and milk supply
The research is there to prove it: exercising is not an issue while breastfeeding! One study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that exercising for 45 minutes a day 5 days a week had no adverse effects on participants’ milk supply or composition compared to the control group. The study also found that the women who were exercising were consuming more calories as a result, which makes sense in light of what we talked about above. In fact the study rightly said that far from being detrimental to breastfeeding, I want you all to know that you can, and should, fit exercise into your day!
Tips for exercising while breastfeeding
One thing I think it is important to talk about is the importance of getting the correct type of bra for exercising! A bra that’s too tight can result in leakage or an infection(mastitis). A bra that’s too loose can leave you in pain because you’re not getting enough support. You want to keep those ladies supported and happy! Try getting professionally fitted for a bra, since your old pre-pregnancy bra size likely no longer is correct because of breast growth. A breastfeeding bra usually won’t cut it. And a too tight or too loose bra may become an ‘’excuse’’ to not work hard because they might leave you in pain!3
So, worry no more as there is no reason to avoid exercising simply because you are breastfeeding! As long as your diet accounts for the fact that you’re supporting a whole new little life, and you drink plenty of water , you should not have any concerns! Get out there and exercise, girl! In addition, you’ll have all the amazing benefits exercise has to offer in the postpartum period. Also make sure you check out the Mother Strong League , which is my fitness program for moms. In the MSL you get Nutritional guidance that caters to breastfeeding moms.! So, we will do all the complicated calculations that need to be done so your only duty is to show up, put in the work and take care of your baby.