Would it be possible for you to forward me any reference details for information on exercise during breastfeeding. I have a client who gave birth ten weeks ago and I would like to know if any recent research is available. I have heard that some new-borns go 'off' their mothers' milk if the mother is resuming training at a moderate intensity (not that that is where she is at the present moment!). Are there any other considerations?
If you've been committed to regular exercise before and during your pregnancy, you'll probably be keen to get back to your old routine and may even be looking forward to the liberation of exercising without that big bump in your belly. But just a word of caution. Remember that you have just had a baby and in traditional societies women rarely return straight away to hard physical labour, even if they were very active right up to the time of the birth. This is contrary to popular belief. The native woman who delivers her baby in the rice paddy and then returns immediately to back-breaking physical work is a mythical creature (or perhaps one who, unfortunately, has absolutely no other option). Most spend up to 40 days in a secluded nurturing environment and there are certainly good reasons for that.
Despite your desire to be physically active again, your body, especially your uterus, pelvic floor and lower back, will take a little while to regain the shape and strength that they had before you conceived. Of course if you've been diligent with your aerobic, strengthening and stretching routines, you'll be amazed at just how quickly and completely you get your old shape back compared to women who have done no exercise at all.
Traditional wisdom recommends at least six weeks before you commence any serious aerobic activity, which will seem like an eternity if you're addicted to the endorphin hit. Serious resistance or weight training should be on the back burner for about the same period of time. This gives your muscles and ligaments time to stabilise after the huge changes of pregnancy.
Once your milk supply is well established you can be sure that exercise won’t affect it in any way. Although it has been suggested that the production of lactic acid might affect the taste of your milk, we’ve never seen any definitive studies indicating this to be the case, or if it does we’re not aware that babies find it off-putting – maybe just different. And regular exercise while you’re breastfeeding only confers benefits. Just remember to drink lots of water – 2.5 - 3 litres a day, and more on very hot days.