Exercising whilst breastfeeding

OK, I don’t mean actually exercise while you are breastfeeding… that would bounce the baby right off the boob.

I’m following on from the last post looking at ‘whether exercise affects breast milk?’. Let’s see what the peeps say…

1. Australian Breastfeeding Association

  • Mild-moderate intensity exercise does not cause lactic acid increase in breast milk;
  • Lactic acid can increase in breast milk following maximal exercise;
  • Lactic acid in breast milk does not harm the baby;
  • Moderate exercise does not affect breast milk supply, immune factors, minerals, nutrients or energy density;
  • Exercise tips for breastfeeding mothers: breastfeed before exercise (for comfort, and to avoid black eyes), wear a supportive bra (to hopefully say ‘no’ to the ball-in-a-sock look later on), drink lots of fluids.

2. The Australian Government

  • If feeding straight after exercise, a baby may appear unsettled during feeding due to lactic acid in the breast milk; this does not hurt the baby;
  • Lactic acid levels drop within two hours.

3. The current literature

  • I could only find two studies looking at breastfeeding and exercise
  • The first was a case report looking at breast milk after strenuous exercise:
    – An exclusively breastfed baby cried after being breastfed about 1-2 hours following his mother’s 5-mile run (note: this is strenuous, but not maximal, exercise);
    – Artificial baby milk was substituted for the post-run feeding only, and the inconsolable crying did not occur;
    – Interestingly, tests showed the mother’s breast milk before and after running had similar levels of lactic acid (inferring that the crying was not due to increased lactic acid levels in the breast milk);
  • The second study looked at the concentration of lactic acid in breast milk following maximal exercise:
    – They somehow got 7 postpartum women to exercise to maximum intensity (maybe they bribed them with Oreos, or someone to take over the night feeds for a week!);
    – They then tested both blood and milk for lactic acid after exercise;
    – Lactic acid was increased in blood (at 5 minutes post-exercise ) and breast milk (at 10 minutes post-exercise);
    – Breast milk lactic acid returned to pre-exercise levels at 30 minutes post-exercise.

Bottom line: exercise at maximal intensity increases breast milk lactic acid for up to 30 mins post-exercise. This does not harm the baby.

Personal experience: post-exercise the bub has no issues with breastfeeding or settling… as for me I definitely settle better post-workout 🙂

Australian Breastfeeding Association.
Australian Government, Department of Health & Ageing.
Duffy L. Breastfeeding after strenuous aerobic exercise: a case report. J Hum Lact. 1997 Jun;13(2):145-6.
Wallace JP, Rabin J. The concentration of lactic acid in breast milk following maximal exercise. Int J Sports Med. 1991 Jun;12(3):328-31.

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  1. Pingback: Exercise & Breastfeeding | Push Ups, Pull Ups & Pregnancy

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