Exercising While Breastfeeding

A reader recently asked whether exercise — specifically marathon training — affects lactation and breastfeeding. I did a little digging and came up with some information, but decided the article fit better at another site for which I write: Trail and Ultra Running. Here’s a brief summary of my findings, based upon the current research:

  • Moderate exercise (about 45 min/day, 5 days/week, moderate intensity) probably has no negative effect on milk production
  • Short-term vigorous exercise probably has no negative impact on milk production
  • Habitual moderate-volume exercisers may make slightly more milk than sedentary women
  • Exercise that results in short-term (~2 weeks) significant caloric deficit probably has no negative effect on milk production
  • There’s no evidence that habitual moderate exercise negatively impacts nutritional content of milk or immunologic factors (like antibodies)
  • Moderate exercise doesn’t appear to increase the amount of lactic acid (a waste product of exercise) in milk, while intense exercise increases lactic acid in milk for about 90 minutes; this doesn’t affect nutrition, but may impact flavor
  • Infants may or may not respond negatively to temporarily increased levels of lactic acid in milk; women can pump before exercising if this is a concern
  • Lactic acid clears from the milk as it clears from the blood; there’s no need to “pump and dump” after vigorous exercise

Read the entire post here.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 11:28:46

    Thank you for this! I will definitely be sending new moms your way. I hate the misconception that breastfeeding moms shouldn’t exercise or they risk losing their milk. I always felt like my milk production increased when I was active. Running = feel good hormones = happy mommy = less stress = more milk!

    Reply

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