Sporting activities, like a healthy and balanced diet, are important when breastfeeding. Regular exercise brings many health benefits, also during the breastfeeding phase, but it is important not to over-exercise.
In rare cases, high-intensity or competitive sport can lead to problems with breastfeeding. Breast milk can be affected in particular by anaerobic exercise, in which the body produces lactic acid as a result of extreme physical activity (e.g. during a marathon). The blood carries the lactic acid into the breast milk and makes it taste sour and bitter, which can lead to the baby refusing the milk.
The right time
When sport can be taken up again after childbirth depends on the mother’s physical condition and personal fitness and her sports-related routines before and during pregnancy. The new mother’s body needs to recover because the ligaments and tissues are soft following childbirth and the pelvic floor needs to regain its elasticity. So take things slowly. Doctors often recommend waiting for about six weeks after childbirth before gradually starting to exercise again.
The right kind of sport
Walking, light jogging, inline skating and swimming are especially good when you are returning to sport after childbirth. Cycling is also good for the body, as long as you aren’t bent too far forward, which would put strain on the pelvic floor. Specific post-natal exercises are recommended for building strength and flexibility.
- It is better to play a relatively undemanding sport several times per week rather than to exercise to the point of exhaustion once a week.
- Wear a sports bra which fits you properly and does not pinch or rub. Make sure your nipples are not irritated by the exercise.
- Drinking is always good, but it is especially important when you are playing sport to ensure that you get enough fluids and minerals
- Be sure to wash your breasts with clear water after strenuous sport. Otherwise they will taste salty to the baby.