The Best Sorts Of Workouts To Do While Breastfeeding

In order for an infant to grow and develop, breast milk or formula must provide them with essential nutrients. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding up until 6 months old, then continuing to breastfeed while also introducing nutritional solid foods for at least up until 2 years of age.

Physical activity is important for breastfeeding mothers. Exercising during the breastfeeding period may combat postpartum depression, as described by What To Expect. It can also increase a woman's energy levels and promote weight loss after childbirth. Along with providing benefits to the mother, moderate exercise during pregnancy has also been linked to a decreased risk of future chronic health conditions for breastfed infants, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, according to Nature Metabolism

It's best to wait until your baby is at least 6 weeks old to begin exercising again, especially if you have had a cesarean section, as explained by La Leche League International. Women experience ligament laxity during and after pregnancy because of the hormone relaxin (per CSPC). Consequently, you should ease into low-impact exercises that are gentle on the body while you recover from pregnancy and childbirth. It's also important to consult your doctor before engaging in any type of exercise, as your body needs time to heal after giving birth.

However, while it's recommended that you stay active during the postpartum period, there are some misconceptions about exercising while breastfeeding. For example, you may be wondering whether working out while nursing can change the flavor of your breast milk.

Does exercise turn breast milk sour?

It's been said that exercising while breastfeeding can turn breast milk sour by increasing levels of lactic acid, but is this a valid statement? 

Lactic acid and exercise do appear to be closely related, as the chemical is present when the body creates energy during physical activity, as described by the Cleveland Clinic. However, breastfeeding mothers looking to stay active don't have to sacrifice their exercise routine completely. According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, moderate exercise while breastfeeding won't increase lactic acid in the breast milk supply or make the milk sour, despite this being a common myth about the breastfeeding process.

Some research has suggested that intense exercise can increase lactic acid levels for up to 90 minutes after the workout, making it possible that the breast milk's taste might change, as explained by Women's Health. It's important to note that these heightened levels haven't been found to have adverse effects on breastfed babies, so there's no need for women to fear or avoid exercising (per Australian Breastfeeding Association). If you're the type of person to err on the side of caution, you could wait until after the 90-minute mark to breastfeed your baby again after an intense workout, per the Children's Medical Center.

Breastfeeding mothers might wonder where to begin when it comes to creating a workout routine. You can try some of these workouts to help you stay in shape while nursing.

Yoga can promote breast milk production

Yoga is a practice that helps people become more in touch with their minds and bodies. Incorporating yoga into your daily routine can help you slow down and unwind, even if only for a moment, from the stresses of motherhood. Along with its stress-relieving properties, yoga can provide special benefits to mothers who are breastfeeding. 

There are psychological conditions and other health problems that make it difficult for some women to produce an adequate amount of breast milk for their babies, as described by ParentCircle. Mothers may find that practicing yoga increases their breast milk production, as the exercise stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete more of the hormone prolactin.

Another appealing aspect of yoga is that there are many different poses a new mother can try. Starting yoga slowly and easing into the exercise is recommended, as noted by HealthShots. The marjariasana, or cat's pose, is one of the most simple poses to start with. To begin the pose, you get on your hands and knees and arch your back inward while looking straight ahead before bowing your head to the floor and arching your back toward the ceiling. Other poses you can try are the child's pose, cobra pose, sun salutation, and downward-facing dog. 

While yoga has significant physiological benefits that encourage breastfeeding, there are other exercises that can help nursing mothers stay active if yoga isn't their thing. 

Other low-impact exercises for breastfeeding moms

A wonderful way for breastfeeding mothers to get some exercise and spend quality time with their baby at the same time is to take them out for a brisk walk in a carrier or stroller, as explained by Medela. This activity can also improve a mother's mental health, as serotonin levels in the brain are raised by walking outside on a nice day, according to Premier Health. During the breastfeeding period, swimming, squats, and plank exercises are also great options for mothers to stay active. For those who want to work on their upper body strength, lightweight dumbbells can be used for exercises like forward dumbbell raises and single-arm rows (per KeaBabies).

In addition to muscle-strengthening activities like push-ups, sit-ups, and Pilates, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends engaging in moderate-intensity aerobic exercises that increase your heart rate for 150 minutes per week. Breastfeeding mothers should make sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated while they exercise so they can provide their babies with enough milk, as noted by Fitness19. You may also want to invest in a supportive sports bra to wear when exercising as your breasts may be undergoing a lot of changes following your baby's birth. 

It's best to begin with these types of low-impact exercises during the postpartum period, but you can gradually transition into more intense exercises once your body has healed from childbirth and you get the okay from your doctor.