Does Working Out Affect Breastfeeding?

You’ve probably heard that working out can affect your milk supply, but is that true? We’re busting some myths about breastfeeding and exercise.


Working out during and after pregnancy has become increasingly popular. It is understandable to have questions about how exercise may affect breastfeeding, especially considering that many workouts have an impact on the body. Some women are concerned that physical activity will reduce their milk production, while other women are worried that exercising could harm their baby’s health.

Before discussing the effects of working out while breastfeeding, it is important to understand exactly what happens to the body during exercise. During physical activity, hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released into the bloodstream as triggers that prepare the body for exertion. Muscles can contract faster due to increased blood flow and oxygen levels and energy expenditure is increased as fat stores are used for energy. Although it is perfectly normal for these hormones to be released during intense physical activity, there may be some concern about how these changes in hormone levels will affect milk production and supply.

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy has many benefits to the health and well-being of both mother and baby. Research shows that exercise can be an effective way to reduce stress, maintain muscle tone, increase energy levels, improve flexibility, as well as reduce the risk for common issues such as back pain and gestational diabetes. In addition to all of these amazing benefits, recent studies have indicated that working out may also have a positive impact on breastfeeding.

Exercise during pregnancy can help with lactation and post-pregnancy weight loss. Studies have found that women who are regularly active during pregnancy tend to produce more breast milk than those who remain sedentary. Additionally, not only does exercise help increase the amount of colostrum (the highly nutrient rich first milk), but lactating mothers who exercise have been shown to have less difficulties with breastfeeding technique such as getting baby latched properly and establishing a good milk supply. Exercise has also been linked to increased metabolic processes after birth, meaning that women who exercise while pregnant tend to lose more post-pregnancy weight than those who don’t.

Overall there are many positive effects from exercising while pregnant such as reducing stress levels and building endurance for labor and delivery. In addition it can improve your chances of successful breastfeeding by increasing your breast milk supply and helping you get back into shape after birth faster. That being said all exercises should always be done under proper supervision by qualified professionals and all activities should be tailored to the individual’s needs in order to ensure safe practices at all times.

Potential Impact of Exercise on Breastfeeding

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and many women choose to continue to work out while breastfeeding. The possible effects of exercise on breastfeeding can be a concern for some mothers. In this article, we will discuss the potential impact of exercise on breastfeeding. We will explore the effects that exercise can have on a mother’s milk supply and the safety of exercising while breastfeeding.

Changes in Milk Supply

Breastfeeding women who exercise must pay special attention when planning a physical fitness routine. During lactation, hormones like prolactin and oxytocin control the production of a woman’s milk supply. While it is uncommon for a regular workout plan to impair milk supply, there have been reports of reduced prolactin levels, hormone imbalance and changes in milk production in some cases.

It is important for breastfeeding moms to ensure that their daily needs for energy and nutrients are met; therefore increasing caloric intake alone may not help to maintain milk supply if there are not enough essential vitamins and minerals present in the diet. Eating foods with sufficient energy-dense carbohydrates is recommended before exercising to maintain glucose levels, as variations in these levels can cause major shifts in milk production due to the release of stress hormones.

Additionally, increasing calorie intake must be done gradually, as abrupt dietary changes can affect milk production and quality. After exercise ends or while taking rest breaks, frequent nursing sessions should be performed by mothers to aid in recovery and maintain proper hydration level throughout the day. It is wise that formula supplements be used only after consulting a doctor or health care provider with concerns about inadequate milk supply.

Changes in Breast Milk Composition

During exercise, the hormones released in the mother’s body adjust the composition of breast milk. Prolactin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, increases with exercise, leading to increased milk production. However, activity that is too strenuous may result in lower amounts of prolactin and reduced breast milk supply. In addition, oxytocin levels also rise during exercise – this has a stimulating effect on lactation and letdown as well as milk ejection. Exercise can also influence other nutrients essential for human development such as fats and proteins present in breast milk being affected.

Studies recommend that mothers who exercise should practice moderation since trying to achieve large weight-loss goals too quickly can significantly decrease milk production. Steady light-moderate intensity exercise for 30 minutes three times a week appears to have no negative impact on the amount of breast milk produced or the content of certain fatty acids important for infant development. During training sessions and after exercise, it is important to consume foods such as protein smoothies to boost nutrient content in breastmilk– especially if breastfeeding more than once daily every day. Additionally, higher amounts of protein are found in mothers’ colostrum during and immediately after an intense workout session than when at rest or inactive; meaning exercised mothers have higher concentrations of valuable antibodies during initial breastfeeding stages which provide additional immune protection for their baby than those who do not engage in physical activity.

Impact on Baby’s Weight Gain

It is important that babies get enough caloric intake to support proper growth and development. Mothers who exercise while breastfeeding worry that their babies are not getting enough calories because of the reduced supply of milk after physical activity. Recent research suggests that exercise has no significant effect on milk supply or the weight of breastfed babies.

A study published in 1998 found no difference in the average weight gain or length of time before breastfed babies reached their birthweight when mothers exercised regularly versus those who were inactive. This indicates that adequate milk is still produced to support the baby even if the mother exercises.

However, it’s important to note there may be individual differences in how much nutrition is being transferred from a mother who exercises versus one who doesn’t exercise during her breastfeeding journey. If you find your baby is not getting enough caloric intake to gain as expected, you should discuss this with your pediatrician and consider other contributing factors such as age, general health, and diet before drawing conclusions about physical activity during breastfeeding.

Tips for Exercising While Breastfeeding

For those breastfeeding and looking to stay fit, exercising can be a great way to keep active. However, it is important to be aware of the effects of physical activity on lactation. Though exercise will not reduce a woman’s breast milk supply if done properly, there are still some precautions that should be taken in order to ensure that she and her baby remain safe.

First, it is important for mothers to be aware of what level of activity they are comfortable with and always remain hydrated while exercising. It is also beneficial for them to have multiple snacks throughout the day in addition to a healthy diet in order to keep up with their body’s increased demand for energy while breastfeeding or working out. Women should also consider chosing low-impact activities such as walking, swimming or gentle yoga.

In addition to these precautions, exercising while lactating can also lead to additional benefits such as improved mood and energy levels as well as protection from postpartum depression. Breastfeeding women may also find physical activity gives them an extra boost on days when they feel tired or sluggish after feedings. Ultimately, any form of exercise will provide tremendous benefits when done with caution and under the supervision of a healthcare provider if desired.


In conclusion, working out while breastfeeding is generally safe and healthy. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as your energy level increases. Of course, it is always a good idea to get clearance from your doctor before beginning any physical activity.

The body can undergo many changes during breastfeeding and postpartum, so it is important to be aware of any signs that indicate you may be overworking or straining yourself. It is equally important to ensure that your baby’s needs are taken into account when intensifying physical activity levels, such as making sure they receive enough breastmilk or having adequate bottle-feeding breaks if necessary. With careful consideration of safety tips and by listening to both your body’s own signals and any advice you have received from medical professionals, there should not be any problems with working out while breastfeeding.

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