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Exercising While Nursing: Harmful or Healthy?

There is a misconception among new mothers that they cannot exercise when they are actively nursing. There are old wives tales that the breast milk goes bad or that the baby will refuse to eat once the mother has exercised. Thankfully, these rumours are not true. Understanding the truth behind these old wives tales will allow you to get the exercise you need and continue nursing. Benefits To The Mother Exercise is very beneficial to the mother. It helps to regain control over your body after nine months of pregnancy, improves your cardiovascular health, and improves your overall sense of well-being. New moms often lose sight of themselves when a baby arrives, especially when nursing. However, your health is also very important to you and your baby.

Milk Production And Exercise

It is rumoured that when a woman exercises, her milk production levels drop. In fact, in a small study researchers found that most women see increased production. However, since this was a single study, these facts cannot be guaranteed as universal at this time.

Breastfeeding Infant

Immunity Boosting Nutrients

There is also a rumour that if a woman is involved in too much physical activity, the immunity properties of her milk will decrease. This has been proven over and over again to be untrue. This rumour is based on a single study that was conducted in 1997 that showed a drop in immunity boosting properties for the first ten minutes after exercising, though these properties were fine before and after that single feeding. Even if this finding was found to be true, the loss of these nutrients during a single feeding would not impact the health of your baby.

Exercise And Lactic Acid

There has been much speculation as to the build-up of lactic acid in the mother’s milk after exercising. This is simply not true. One study found that women who exercised to complete exhaustion showed an increase in lactic acid, but it was not enough to cause any changes to the baby’s acceptance of the milk or cause any discomfort or harm to the child. Since it is rare for someone to exercise to complete exhaustion, or for mothers to have the desire or energy level to exercise this intensely, it is very unlikely that this will occur.

Babies will Refuse To Eat After Mother Has Exercised

One of the leading myths about breastfeeding and exercise is that the baby will refuse to eat after the mother has worked out. So many mothers place their health on hold due to this rumor, and it is simply not true.

In most cases, a baby refusing to eat after the mother has worked out is due to the taste of salt on their skin. This can be avoided by taking a shower right after a workout and before feeding the baby. In study after study, once the mother has showered and removed the salt taste from her skin, the baby began to nurse.

Things To Remember For Nursing Mothers

  • Creating an exercise routine is good for you. It will help you feel better about yourself, and it will keep you healthy. Exercise improves heart health, improves insulin resistance, and gives the mom a little “me” time.
  • Wear a very supportive bra when you exercise. Your body is different now and you will need extra support in this area. This is especially true if you are jogging or using any type of running machines.
  • If you are lifting a lot of weights with your arms, or if you are using resistance training for your arms or shoulders, it may result in plugged ducts. You can change this simply by reducing the amount of weight you use when exercising, and decreasing repetitions. Nursing pillows such as the Mombo nursing pillow can be re-purposed into a great support pillow when exercising on the floor. Simply place the pillow under your hips when completing leg lifts, sits ups, and reverse sit ups to relieve pressure that these types of exercises sometimes cause.
  • Make sure that you stay properly hydrated. This is important for anyone that has an exercise routine. However, this is especially important for nursing mothers who can more easily suffer from dehydration.
Overall, women need to remember that there is a lot of misinformation out there about nursing. The best thing that any mother having a question about nursing can do is contact a support group or a lactation counselor. This will help them alleviate any fears and obtain the right information.

About the Author

Felicia Willis is a freelance blogger, mother of one, and exercise enthusiast. Many maternity products really do help make being a parent just a little easier, and one such example is the Mombo nursing pillow. Many made-for-mom products include such innovative design, and make a big difference in the baby rearing process.

Writer and editor based in Atlanta, GA.

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