Will Working Out Affect My Milk Supply? According to the experts.

By Morgan Dixon | Photo by @amzjackson

If you’re ready to break a sweat postpartum but concerned adding in exercise will affect your milk supply, we have good news for you: moderate exercise does not negatively affect milk production. Even better, studies have shown that postpartum exercise can help reduce stress levels, boost energy, and potentially prevent postpartum mood disorders. 

Adding in movement after your doctor gives you the all-clear can be incredibly beneficial; that said, if you are breastfeeding, there are things to be aware of as you venture back to your favorite workout class or head out for a jog:

  1. Relaxin, the hormone you have during pregnancy that helps your bones and joints stretch to accommodate your growing belly, will stay in your system as you breastfeed. This means you could be more prone to muscle pulls and strains, so bear that as you pick which workout feels right for you. 
  2. Breastmilk is 87% water, so staying hydrated and replenishing electrolytes is essential, especially if you do something sweat-heavy (think hot yoga). 
  3. Breastfeeding in itself can be a workout! Be mindful of eating enough calories (and snacking frequently) to reduce the calories you’re burning off. 

“I breastfed for 18 months and returned back to exercise 12 weeks postpartum”, said Simone De La Rue, Founder of Body by Simone. “One of my main focuses was making sure I was getting enough fuel to continue to produce milk, along with increasing my hydration. I literally remember running to the loo frequently as I was drinking so much water. I have also never eaten more food in my life!! Oat biscuits were my friend. I made sure to limit my cardio and always fed or pumped every 3 hours. My son was always with me and my studio, so that made life a little easier.” 

Maintaining an awareness of what feels right for your body is a good practice to adopt when venturing back into exercise. Sian Gordon of Love Story Yoga is a big proponent of gentle movement, agreeing that a little bit can go a long way. “Breastfeeding can feel like a full-time job with little time for anything else, let alone exercise. I recommend leaving a yoga mat rolled out on the floor so you do some cat cows, a down dog or whatever else your body needs. A minute of yoga is a lot better than no yoga.” 

Setting realistic and attainable goals for movement might be the key to success postpartum, especially when breastfeeding sets the schedule. “Movement after pregnancy is paramount to balancing out hormones, assisting a mother in creating a healthy mindset, and bringing her body back into balance after the birth of the baby” says Erin Romeny, Founder and owner of Romney Studios. “We need nurturing and support.”

Morgan Dixon is Swehl’s Motherboard member & Head of Community. She is a Lactation Specialist and certified nutritionist. Morgan is a mother of two young boys.

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