Breastfeeding and Exercise-What helped third time around…
It is some belief that exercise effects milk supply and quality but according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association this is not true:
“Some research has looked at the level of lactic acid (a by-product of high intensity exercise) in mothers’ breastmilk after exercise. While lactic acid can increase in breastmilk following maximal exercise (exercising to the extreme of exercise intensity), mild or moderate exercise does not cause lactic acid to increase in breastmilk and does not affect a baby taking the milk. Since most mothers only wish to exercise to a moderate intensity to lose weight, and improve/maintain fitness and general wellbeing, most would say that maximal exercise is not relevant anyway. Regardless, there is no evidence to suggest that breastmilk with increased lactic acid levels harms a baby in any way.
Moderate exercise does not affect:
· breastmilk supply
· important immune factors in breastmilk (SIgA, lactoferrin, and lysozyme)
· major minerals in breastmilk (calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and sodium)
· major nutrients in breastmilk (fat, protein, lactose) or energy density.”
Whilst breastfeeding my first and second I did struggle to breastfeed and felt that I didn't have enough as the baby was crying (a lot) and always wanting to feed leading to this belief. At the time I felt that it was my training that was interfering with the supply/quality. Upon researching this myth has now been dispelled.
The Bump (www.thebump.com) sums it up beautifully with the below 3 main points:
1. “Exercise won't hurt your milk supply. As long as you maintain a healthy diet, your milk supply should not be affected by exercise. Your body burns about 500 calories per day to produce the milk your baby needs. If you are exercising a lot, you have to make up for the extra calories expended.”
2. “It won't change the taste, either. Some old wives tales caution against too much exercise because it makes your milk sour so that babies won't want to feed. It turns out there may be some truth to that belief. Studies have shownthat lactic acid levels in breast milk are significantly elevated for up to 90 minutes after maximal exercise, which may adversely alter the flavour of the milk. The good news is that there is no such elevation in lactic acid levels after moderate activity. So as long as you keep your aerobic exercise in the 80% of maximal heart rate range, your baby won't notice a difference. Since you may sweat while working out, be sure to shower or at least wipe off your nipples or they may taste salty!”
3. “Your breast milk is still as nutritional as ever—even after a workout.Studies show that exclusively breastfed babies of moms who exercise regularly grow just as robustly as those whose moms are sedentary. Those bonus immune-boosters in breast milk don't seem to be altered with moderate exercise either. Another study showed that women who performed moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes three times per week had the same levels of the immune-boosting compounds in breast milk as those who didn't exercise, and, not surprisingly, those women exhibited higher levels of cardiovascular fitness.”
Third time around I have discovered the awesome products by Milk and Nourish. They now have 4 products in their range including pre-made cookies, lactation cookie mix, milk booster capsules and mummy milk powder. What makes their products so special is that they contain “galactagogues” which are substances that promote lactation. The brewer's yeast, wheat germ, flaxseed meal and whole oats in lactation products are what specifically help with a lactating mother's milk supply. For those health conscious Mums amongst us, or Mums who try to hit macros the capsules are the way to go as they are gluten free, vegan friendly and contain little calories. They may seem small but they are jammed packed full of lactogenic ingredients, all enclosed in a vegetable gum capsule, to take anywhere anytime making it easy for the Mum on the GO. Adding these to the morning Vitamin taking regime is a no brainer and I was sceptical at first but after giving them a try they really do help the flow to flood. I certainly know now when I don’t take them.
Another key factor in keeping on top of a good supply has been the conscious effort to drink more water. There is no evidence to state there drinking a lot of water will increase the supply the problem is that when you are a new mum, you often forget to take care of yourself while you are so immersed in taking care of the baby. I try to drink a glass of water whenever sitting down to nurse or straight after. I also endeavour to drink a glass of water before and immediately after exercising or throughout the session.
The last but not least point is wearing a supportive nursing crop due to your trusty pre-pregnancy sports bras not cutting the mustard anymore. Your boobs are probably bigger, not to mention more sensitive. Easy access for your baby is now also a must—something that most traditional sports bras don’t build into their designs.