Exercise and Breastfeeding 101: What You Should Know (Plus Workouts!)

Can mothers exercise and breastfeed successfully? Yes! Learn everything you should know about losing that baby weight while maintaining your supply – including simple workouts you can do ANYWHERE!

Exercising and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding and Exercise

One of the biggest questions we get in my Breastfeeding Mamas’ Support Tribe on Facebook is “how do I lose weight?” I wrote a post on this in the past, however, I decided it was time to bring in an expert – Nikelle Perry, a personal trainer and moms and understands the intricacies of getting back in shape after baby. I’m super excited for her to share tips for exercising while breastfeeding, healing from diastasis recti, as well as some custom workouts just for new moms. 

As if health and exercise aren’t already difficult enough – doing it while growing another human, or feeding that human with your own body, makes it 10x harder.

You’re not sure what to do, what is harmful, if it will cause less milk production, or how to schedule it around feedings/pumping schedules. So first off, let’s debunk a few myths that JUST AREN’T TRUE.

Myth #1: Exercise While Breastfeeding Lessens Milk Supply

WRONG! It does NOT effect your milk supply in any way. However, dehydration DOES effect milk supply, but this goes whether you’re breastfeeding or not. So my biggest tip while exercising if you’re breastfeeding is to stay hydrated.

TIP: Keep a bottle of water around you at all times, and it’s recommended that you drink 10-12 cups of water a day, and the more you exercise and sweat, the more you should drink.

Myth #2: Exercising Causes Your Milk To Taste Sour

Some women claim to notice that their breastmilk tastes sourer after exercise based on the fact that some lactic acid can be found in your milk.

While the second part is true, a recent study has shown that your baby typically will not notice this taste or refuse the breast after exercise.

It is perfectly healthy to breastfeed your baby after exercise regardless, and this will NOT hurt them in any way.

TIP: However, do shower so your baby doesn’t taste the saltiness on your skin, which may turn them away.

Myth #3: Exercise Alters The Nutritional Content In Your Milk

Also proven to be incorrect. Moms who exercise not only have the same cold fighting enzymes that non-exercising moms have, but it has been proven that mothers who exercise make MORE immune-boosters! Which is the best excuse to get your workout in!

So here’s a huge problem you may have; finding time to exercise. Between just being plain old exhausted and trying to exercise between feedings so your boobs don’t feel like they are going to pop- or leak through your sports bra (yeah, it happened to me a lot, and it’s embarrassing), it can be almost impossible.

Another problem I had was finding someone willing to watch my girl for an hour. So I’ll give two sets of advice; one for mothers who have to workout WITH babe, and one for mommas who can actually find help for an hour a day.

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Working Out WITH Your Baby – Safe Postpartum Exercises

My first tip is to workout around your baby’s nap schedule and feeding schedule.

It’s best to workout directly after a feeding regardless, so your milk makers aren’t pulling you down, hurting your back, or leaking through. Then, if it’s nap time put her down, and go to the living room for your workout, or if she’s wide awake, go outside. Did you pick one? Ok, good, now read below.

LIVING ROOM MOMS

I’m about to tell you exactly what to do in your living room. It will get your muscles burning, your heart rate up, and if you do it long enough, you’ll sweat too.

WARMUP: jum prope w/out the rope for 5 mins straight.

ROUND 1: (1min mountain climbers, 1min wall sit) x3

ROUND 2: (10 burpees and 20 squats) x3

ROUND 3: (Elbows to hands for 1 min and 30sec jump squat)x3

ENDING: 10 squats, 10 lunges, 10 jump squats and 10 jump lunges with no break.

Yes, if it’s been a while since you’ve worked out, this will kick your butt. And if you can’t do 3 sets of each, then start with 1 or 2. This should be about a 30-minute workout.

OUTSIDE MOMS

I’m about to tell you exactly what to do outside for a kick-butt workout you can do with your babe. (minus the running, you could also do some of these exercises inside with you baby).

WARMUP: .5 mile jog or .5mile walk with your baby in a stroller (or in a front carrier if walking)

ROUND 1: (while holding baby, or in a front carrier) 10 step ups on a bench (each leg) and 20 squats x2

ROUND 2: Walking lunges 20 total (with the baby in a stroller) and 20 forward squat jumps with a baby in a stroller

ROUND 3: (You can lay baby on the ground on a blanket under you for these!) 20 pushups/modified pushups and 20 elbows to hands planks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1bXgfsbYoQ)

ENDING: .5mile run or .5mile walk

I kid you not, the above is the workout I did 5x a week and I lost all my baby weight and an additional 15lbs.

TIP: walk as much as possible. My little one either wanted to be in the stroller or in the baby carrier at all times, so we were constantly on the go and walked everywhere that we could.

Gym Mommas

So you have a little more help than I did.

Either you somehow have the energy to get up before your family (like I do now but only since my baby is already 2) and hit the gym, or you have a babysitter.

Boy am I jealous!

It’s safe to say that nothing is off limits at the gym- unless you’re trying to fix some diastasis rectified (which I’ll go over in a second). My tips for you are to nurse/pump before you go, drink tons of water, and get a great workout in!

There isn’t one workout that is better over another so to say, so do whatever you love, get some me time, and put some sweat in! You’ll feel better, I promise!

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Safe Energy Boosters

I want to talk about lack of energy for a moment. I was a zombie for a year, ah who am I kidding, I still am, because my LO is still waking 3-5x a night at age 2.

So lets talk about safe energy boosters for breastfeeding moms.

ALL pre-workout packages say to consult a doctor before consuming for expectant and breastfeeding moms. But how the heck are we supposed to get a good workout without energy?

The two main ingredients in energy drinks and pre-workout are caffeine and Vitamin B (along with smoother not-so-healthy additives not good for babies). So how can we get a kick without the harmful additives? I highly suggest a coffee before exercise and a B Complex vitamins about one hr before you exercise. These are the safest ways to get a boost.

Diastasis Recti

Yes, I had it, and yes I was able to fix it. However, if you have had multiple kids and your diastasis rectified (splitting of the abs) is more than two finger widths apart, you may need to speak with your doctor. The above can mean possible surgery to fix the ab separation.

Regardless- slow and steady wins the race here. You just went through 9months of pulling your abdominals apart to make room for baby, so it is going to take a while to fix this.

What NOT to Do

The worst thing to do is flat ab/back abdominal work. By that, I mean flat crunches and sit ups. This can cause the muscles to separate further instead of pulling them together.

What TO do

 Any abdominal exercise that TWIST. So Russian twists are a great go-to exercise. This pulls the separate abdominal side together instead of apart. Something else that I used to keep my abs and core in place to quicken the recovery time of diastasis recti was a waist trimmer. Again, these just keep your abs in place, pulling them together, inserted of falling farther apart. I got mine on amazon here.

Breastfeeding Diet and Exercise Plan

Still have questions or concerns? Feel free to email me at [email protected].

Follow nikelleperry on Instagram for daily health and fitness tips and tricks.

Be sure to check out our Aaptiv, the favorite exercise app of Clarks Condensed. It has hundreds of amazing workouts that make you feel like you’re exercising with a friend. It’s perfect for pregnant and breastfeeding moms – they even have stroller workouts and an in-depth prenatal program. Sign up here for a FREE 30-day trial! 

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