Does Working Out Affect Breast Milk?

Many new mothers worry about how their workout routine will affect their breast milk. Here’s what you need to know.


Exercising during breastfeeding is beneficial for both the mother and the baby. It can help a woman stay in shape and can even potentially increase her milk supply. But there are some factors to consider before starting an exercise plan while breastfeeding. Knowing how working out affects breast milk will help ensure that both mother and baby stay healthy and comfortable.

There are some studies that suggest exercising while breastfeeding may decrease the amount of fat in breast milk, as well as affect other nutrients in the breastmilk, such as calories. Exercise is known to increase oxytocin levels, which can stimulate lactation, however it can also lead to decreased prolactin production, which is necessary for milk production. Therefore it’s important to be aware of how exercise can influence breastmilk supply before making any major changes in your workout routine. Additionally, certain types of exercises may be more suited for breastfeeding mothers than others when it comes to maintaining a healthy level of supply.

In order to get an accurate assessment on how working out affects breast milk, it’s important for mothers who are interested in exercising while breastfeeding to consult with their doctors first. They should also remain mindful of their body’s physical and emotional needs when starting or continuing an exercise plan during this time

Benefits of Working Out

Working out can have a lot of positive benefits for mothers who are breastfeeding. It can help improve your mood and energy levels, increase your overall fitness, and assist in weight management. Additionally, exercising can help improve your milk supply and quality due to increased circulation and hormone release. Let’s look at the other ways working out can affect your breastfeeding journey.

Improved Mood

Exercising has been linked to improved mood, both during the workout and afterward. Exercise helps the body release feel-good hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, which can lead to feelings of happiness and improved mental wellbeing. Exercising regularly also has benefits for sleep patterns and overall energy levels.

For breastfeeding moms, the endorphin release from exercise can help reduce stress, depression, and anxiety that sometimes occurs post-partum. Furthermore, regulated sleep patterns resulting from increased physical activity can help women catch up on lost sleep while providing them with some much needed relaxation time. Taking the time to “check out” mentally during workouts can provide a refreshed state of mind that is better suited to taking care of baby with a renewed sense of positive energy.

Increased Energy

Adequate physical activity is essential for restoring energy levels after childbirth. Exercising helps to increase endorphins, which will lead to improved mood and overall well-being. Exercise is also known to improve quality of sleep, which prevents fatigue and helps with increased energy production. When you exercise, your body breaks down carbohydrates from food it has stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen, releasing energy for your body to use. This makes exercising a great way boost your metabolism and produce more sustained energy throughout the day. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, working out can help produce an ample supply of nutrient-rich breast milk for your baby. As such, exercising is recommended by health professionals as an effective way to take proactive steps toward energized motherhood.

Improved Sleep

Exercising has been found to improve overall sleep quality, even when just done on an occasional basis. Regular exercise also helps regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle, allowing you to fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. Improved sleep can also result in increased energy during the day, which can help with breastfeeding and other motherly duties. Furthermore, the endorphins released during exercise can help relieve stress that often keeps moms awake at night and make them feel more relaxed overall.

Effects of Working Out on Breast Milk

Working out while breastfeeding is a balancing act for new moms who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can produce positive effects on breast milk production, as it increases levels of the hormones necessary for milk production. However, there are some risks associated with working out while breastfeeding. In this article, we will address the pros and cons of working out while breastfeeding and how it affects breast milk.

Changes in Taste

When it comes to the effect of exercise on breast milk, there are two primary concerns — changes in taste and changes in composition. While research has yet to conclusively determine whether working out has any impact on breast milk composition, some studies have indicated that working out can lead to subtle changes in the flavor of breast milk.

In one small 2009 study, researchers collected samples of expressed breast milk from 10 healthy lactating women before and after a single session of moderate-intensity treadmill running. Analysis revealed that samples taken following exercise had a mild decrease in sweetness when compared to pre-workout samples, although concentrations of carbohydrate or other major components remained largely unchanged. Other studies have shown similar results — that exercise can affect the flavor of expressed breast milk.

It is worth noting that these changes are believed to be so subtle that differences may only be detected by experienced or sensitive tasters; most babies will not detect any notable shift in taste. Most forms of light-to-moderate intensity exercise are not known to have an adverse effect on human health; as such, it is generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers to engage in regular physical activity during and after pregnancy.

Lower Milk Supply

Studies have shown that while working out while breastfeeding can be could, it can also lower the amount of breast milk produced in some individuals. This is thought to be caused by an imbalance of hormones during and after workouts. Working out causes an increase of cortisol and decrease of prolactin, which are responsible for the production of breast milk.

Exercising does put a lot of strain on the body causing exhaustion, dehydration, and improper nutrition that can contribute to reduced milk production. Keeping up with adequate hydration and nutrition is key to making sure you aren’t inadvertently reducing your milk supply by working out too much.

While some women may see a decrease in their milk supplies when they start exercising, others may find that it increases or makes no difference at all. It is important to keep track of how much milk the baby drinks before and after exercise sessions to gauge whether or not exercises are having a negative effect on your milk supply. If it looks like your lactation is being decreased from exercise, try reducing workout intensity or even taking a break from physical activity until your body regains balance.

Decreased Milk Quality

Exercise can have a range of effects on breast milk composition and quantity. One common concern among nursing mothers is that exercise might decrease the quality of their breast milk. Various studies have found that working out can affect lactation hormones, thus causing a decrease in the quality of breastfeeding mothers’ milk.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that not all forms of exercise have the same effects on lactation hormones and subsequently the quality of breast milk. Generally speaking, light to moderate intensity exercises are unlikely to significantly affect breastfeeding hormones and therefore should not result in a deterioration of breast milk quality. On the other hand, intense or prolonged physical activities such as marathon running or strength training may reduce concentrations of prolactin (a key breastfeeding hormone) which can lead to decreased milk production and lower quality milk for babies. Studies also suggest that dehydration may further exacerbate negative consequences on both mother’s health and lactation hormone acute concentrations due to exercise or physical activity.

Based upon current research findings, light-to-moderate exercises are considered safe for nursing mothers; yet there may be other individual factors at play, such as dehydration status or levels of fatigue which may influence a mother’shealth and potentially lead to altered breast milk composition and poorer mammary gland function over time.

Tips for Working Out While Breastfeeding

Exercising while breastfeeding can be beneficial to both mother and baby. It can not only help you stay in shape, but it can also help reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, it can increase the amount of breast milk you’re able to produce and help with milk supply. Let’s look at some tips to help you have a successful workout while breastfeeding.

Drink Plenty of Water

Fluid intake is important for both the mother and for breastfeeding babies, who rely on breastmilk as a source of hydration. It’s recommended that mothers stay well hydrated while breastfeeding so that their breast milk can remain of high quality. Therefore, when engaging in an exercise routine while breastfeeding, it is especially important to drink plenty of water. Generally speaking, drinking about one ounce per kilogram of bodyweight is encouraged during workouts and more if the temperature is hot or if you are engaging in more intense exercises. Dehydration can cause disruption to the production and flow of breast milk as well as fatigue, nausea, headache and dizziness when exercising.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Maintaining a balanced diet while breastfeeding is essential for the health of both mom and baby. Eating a balanced diet provides the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are found in breast milk, as well as energy needed for workouts. Make sure to select nutritious foods with the right amount of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Consume five to six meals per day, spacing those meals out evenly throughout day. Include servings of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein sources in each meal. Additionally, being hydrated is crucial for staying healthy during this period; it helps to produce more milk and aids overall digestion. Therefore it is also important to drink plenty of water throughout the day and especially after exercise sessions.

Choose Low-Impact Exercises

If you decide to start an exercise routine while breastfeeding your baby, choose lower-impact exercises that will be easier on your joints, such as walking, swimming, or biking. Most postpartum exercise professionals strongly discourage running or other high-impact activities that can cause unnecessary stress on your still healing body. Additionally, if you are recently postpartum and plan to start exercising it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before doing so.

Low-impact exercises can still provide a quality cardiovascular workout while also allowing your body time to heal and rebuild strength in the necessary areas of support. Pay attention to how you are feeling during any types of exercise — if it is too uncomfortable or causes any pain stop immediately and seek advice from a medical professional. If a particular exercise feels too strenuous or tiring cut the intensity down by half and build up over time as you feel able.


In conclusion, working out while breastfeeding can have both positive and negative impacts on a mother’s breast milk supply. Be sure to discuss your individual needs with your healthcare provider and find the best solution for you. Generally, any exercise that is moderate in intensity should be well tolerated while breastfeeding, and no additional supplementation of the mother’s diet is necessary. Exercise can help stimulate milk production and release oxytocin, which helps the let-down reflex. Including small snack breaks during or after workouts may help provide additional energy for both the baby and the mother. All in all, as long as moms are careful not to over-exert themselves and keep hydrated during exercise, working out is not only safe for them – it can also be beneficial for their overall health and well-being.

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