Simple Wishes Activewear collection. Model wearing active maternity & postpartum legging and SuperMom Nursing & Pumping Sports Bra

Will Exercise Affect My Milk Supply?

Beginning a new exercise routine or getting back to your regular routine, post-birth, brings with it a flurry of questions and concerns, especially for breastfeeding mothers. One prevalent worry is the potential impact of exercise on breast milk supply. We dove into this topic with insight from our favorite lactation expert, Dr. Kathleen McCue, from Metropolitan Breastfeeding. Read on to unravel myths, understand facts, and get practical advice to help you maintain an optimal milk supply while keeping fit.

Understanding the Basics of Breast Milk Production

Before delving into how exercise might affect breast milk, it's crucial to grasp the fundamental principles of lactation. Breast milk production is a demand-supply mechanism; the more your baby nurses, the more milk your body is stimulated to produce. Nutrition, hydration, and overall health play pivotal roles in this process.

Debunking Myths: Exercise and Milk Supply

The myth that exercise negatively affects breast milk supply has made many nursing mothers hesitant to resume physical activity. However, research suggests that moderate exercise does not decrease milk volume. It's all about finding a balance and listening to your body. The key is moderation and ensuring you're consuming enough calories and staying hydrated.

The Real Impact of Exercise on Lactation

Hormonal Balance and Milk Composition

Exercise influences your body's hormonal balance, but it doesn't necessarily harm milk production. In fact, staying active can boost your mood and overall health, indirectly supporting lactation. The concern about lactic acid buildup affecting milk taste and, consequently, the baby's willingness to breastfeed has been largely debunked. Most babies do not react negatively to post-exercise breast milk.

Staying Hydrated

One undeniable aspect of combining breastfeeding with exercising is the need for increased hydration. Breastfeeding itself requires extra fluid intake, and when you add physical activity to the mix, your hydration needs climb even higher. Dr. Kathleen McCue  advises "You do need to drink plenty of water before, during, and after workouts to help maintain your milk supply and your overall health."

Nutritional Needs

Breastfeeding mothers already need more calories to sustain milk production, and adding exercise into your routine increases this demand. Focus on nutrient-rich foods that provide energy and support milk production. Balanced meals and snacks that include proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates are your allies in keeping both your body and your milk supply healthy.

Practical Tips for Combining Exercise and Breastfeeding

  • Timing Your Workouts: Try to schedule your exercise after breastfeeding or pumping. This way, you're not uncomfortable with full breasts, and you ensure that any minimal changes in milk taste due to lactic acid buildup won't affect your baby.

  • Choosing the Right Activities: Of course, before beginning any exercise routine you need to have sign off from your healthcare provider. After you have the green light, start with low to moderate activities and gradually increase intensity. Walking, postpartum yoga, and light strength training are excellent choices to get back into the fitness groove. One interesting fact, shared by Dr. Kathleen, is that higher impact activities can actually stimulate your milk supply from the jiggling of your breasts. If you have an oversupply issue, this underscores the importance of wearing a supportive bra to prevent too much jiggling.

  • Breast Care: If you have sore nipples from nursing you may discover that moderate to high impact exercise could become uncomfortable due to increased friction from your bra. Frida Mom offers some wonderful solutions to help your overworked nipples heal with their Sore Nipple SetIt doubles up on the relief you can find by using their Cracked Nipple Saline Spray and No Mess Nipple Balm. We also highly recommend the cooling relief you can get from their proprietary Vitamin E formula in their Cooling Hydrogel Nipple Pads.

  • Wearing Supportive Clothing: Invest in a good-quality, supportive sports bra that doesn't compress your breasts too much, as that can lead to clogged milk ducts. We recommend our Undercover or SuperMom Sports Bras. Throw on our mom-favorite Aspen Pullover with a pair of Active Maternity & Postpartum Leggings and you are set with your outfit for the day (even if exercise doesn't happen)!

images of Simple Wishes maternity and postpartum legging, Supermom Moderate Impact Sports Bra and Kate Nursing Cardigan
  • Listening to Your Body: Pay attention to your body's signals. If you're feeling overly tired or notice a dip in milk supply, you might need to dial back the intensity or duration of your workouts. One of our recommendations to help get milk flowing is gentle massage. We love the Frida Mom Milk Flowing Massage Stick because your boobs could use a massage (just as much as the rest of you) to perform optimally! We of course recommend also consulting with an expert to rule out anything else that might be causing a dip. Many insurance plans cover consultations with a lactation professional. We recommend the team at Metropolitan Breastfeeding who are often able to provide virtual e-consults from the convenience of your home.

The journey of motherhood is filled with adjustments and learning curves, especially when it comes to balancing personal health and baby care. Exercise is a beneficial part of this balance, promoting physical well-being, emotional health, and potentially even enhancing your ability to provide nourishing breast milk to your baby. Remember, every mother's body reacts differently to postpartum exercise, so what works for one may not work for another. The key is to stay informed, listen to your body, and adjust your routine as needed to support both your fitness goals and your baby's needs.