Breast-feeding and exercise?
Published on August 1, 2014
The 22nd annual World Breast-feeding Week kick starts on August 1, 2014. A Winning Goal for Life — this year’s theme was launched to increase awareness about breast-feeding and to encourage support for mothers who nurse, as well as their babies. While it’s a known fact that breast-feeding offers many health benefits, including obesity prevention for both children and mothers, did you ever know that breast-feeding also helps improve your baby’s cardiovascular fitness later in life? In a 2012 study of almost 2,000 kids and teens who had been breast-fed the longest as babies showed the highest fitness levels at ages nine and 15, regardless of their age, sex, BMI, and pubertal status.
Since you are your child’s most important fitness role model, do start early. However, do get your doctor’s permission first. Breast-feeding and exercise don’t need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can work together to help you recover from childbirth. Both can help you lose weight and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, smoothing your transition to motherhood. Many new mums worry that exercising will change the taste or composition of their breast milk, or reduce their supply. While this might be true if your workouts are very strenuous, light to moderate exercise shouldn’t have any effect on your milk. Research has also shown that in breast-fed babies, mums’ exercise did not significantly affect infant weight gain.
Especially in the first weeks after your baby is born, your body needs plenty of rest and healthy calories in order to establish your supply, so make those a priority. As your baby grows, you’ll learn what works best for both of you and your nursing relationship. What kind of exercise is best for breast-feeding mums? Whatever you can do and enjoy! Consider signing up for a mum-and-baby exercise class or taking your baby for walks, either in a stroller or in a sling or other soft carrier. Fitness videos at home with baby napping may work well. Look for workouts that help you rebuild the muscles in your core, burn calories with cardiovascular exercise, and build lean muscles with strength training. Just keep in mind that you should start slowly and work up to longer and more challenging workouts. You’ll be most comfortable if you feed your baby (or pump your milk) just before you exercise, and wear a supportive bra that fits well.