Protecting Your Milk Supply When Working Out
Updated: Sep 24, 2021
One question a lot of breastfeeding moms have when they begin working out again postpartum is: “will exercise affect my milk supply?” But the good news is research has shown that moderate exercise does not affect milk supply*. However, there are a few things you can do to protect your milk supply when working out!
If we are meeting for the first time - hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization in pre+postnatal fitness through PROnatal fitness. I am a mom of 1, and became interested in pre + postnatal fitness as I was going through my own pregnancy journey!
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional or certified lactation consultant if you are having trouble with your milk supply or breastfeeding).
Here are 4 tips to keeping your milk supply up when starting to workout again:
Consume plenty of calories: Breastfeeding alone burns calories. When you are also exercising, you are burning additional calories. If you are burning more calories than you are consuming, you may want to think about increasing your food intake. This doesn’t necessarily mean eating foods with empty calories, but focusing on nutrient dense foods such as oatmeal with flax, avocado toast with egg, smoothies with peanut butter, etc. Don’t be afraid to increase your calories, especially if your milk supply hasn’t been fully established yet!
Increase fluids: Staying hydrated is important both when breastfeeding and when working out. Breast Milk is around 90% water, and that water comes from your body! When you start a workout routine, it is recommended that you drink an additional 8-12oz of water for every 30 minutes of exercise (so if you workout for an hour, increase water intake by 16-24oz!). This is especially important if you are breastfeeding as well! The general recommendation with breastfeeding is to drink when thirsty, but I would definitely recommend drinking AT LEAST half your weight in ounces of water.
Power Pumping: As someone who exclusively pumped, this was very helpful for me in the beginning to increase my supply. Power pumping is when you pump on and off for 1 hour straight. The idea is to mimic the baby cluster feeding, and to signal to your body to produce more milk. It generally is recommended to do once per day if you are noticing issues with supply.
A sample power pumping schedule would be something like this: pump for 20 mins, rest for 10 mins. Pump for 10 mins, rest for 10 mins. Pump for 10 mins. This will total 60 mins (1 hour). Then resume your regular pumping/nursing schedule! This can be a little rough on your nipples, so using coconut oil to lube up your flanges can make a huge difference! Also having something cooling to put on your nipples after helps a lot.
Skin to skin with baby: Having skin to skin time with baby helps signal to your body to produce more milk. This generally looks like having them lay on your chest, but can be done in so many ways! Another added benefit of skin to skin is bonding!
As mentioned above, I am not a doctor or a lactation consultant, so if you are really struggling with your milk supply, I highly recommend seeing someone who specializes in this area. These are simply tips that worked for me personally!
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.