Should nursing mothers exercise?
Being a new mum can be very stressful – life suddenly revolves around the new addition and thoughts about oneself become less important. Of course it is vital to look after oneself, and, mothers who exercise appear to be happier and they have healthier hearts. If, as a new mum you are breast feeding it is again good news. Both breast feeding and exercise reduce stress and can help to reduce depression. But should nursing mothers exercise? Yes! There is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Some say the breast milk might taste sour due to lactic acid build up but this has only been noted for athletes training at high intensity. Regular moderate exercise will not cause any lactic acid to build up in your system. Healthy mums should be encouraged to exercise and this will not affect the quality or quantity of breast milk. Try to exercise after feeding so your breasts are not full and baby is content. If you find that the exercise leaves your breasts sore – try a supportive sports bra. Liquid intake is important if breast feeding – remember to drink a glass of water before and after exercising. Remember to rinse sweaty breasts before feeding as baby may not like the taste of salt.
Some mothers have experienced plugged ducts or mastitis and this has been attributed to lifting upper body weights. So, if you use the gym or do any exercise that involves repetitive arm movement, introduce this slowly.
Pushing a buggy or carrying baby in a sling/backpack whilst walking are good ways to start back into exercise. If you want to lose weight, breast feeding and gentle exercise are a good way to start. Make your exercise fun so that you are more likely to stick with it.