Breastfeeding: Everything an athlete needs to know
If you are an athlete, please be reassured that breastfeeding your baby is still an option if you would like to.
While many new mothers are often concerned training may affect their milk’s supply or taste, studies have found no difference in breastfeeding even following maximum intensity exercise. This means that if your training has been cleared by your doctor and is well balanced, the quality of your breastmilk in addition to your baby’s growth and development is very unlikely to be affected.
If you are considering returning to training while breastfeeding, here are a few essential to consider to ensure you are able to breastfeed successfully.
As you increase your training volume, it is important to make sure your feeding and/or pumping stays on track to keep milk flow stable. Breastfeeding or expressing just before a training or performance session can also make it more comfortable, especially in the first six months following the birth of your baby.
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is important as both training and lactation use a lot of energy. As you begin to increase your training load increases, you will also need to increase additional calories to avoid falling into a calorie deficit. In doing so, your nutrition should focus on nutrient-dense meals incorporating high-quality proteins, healthy fats, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
For more information, visit our Building a Balanced Diet page.
Making sure you remain hydrated is very important to prevent milk supply issues from occurring, especially during longer training sessions. This is important as, in the case you become dehydrated, it can take your body a long period of time to rebalance which may influence your milk supply and ability to breastfeed short term. To combat this, you may want to try taking extra water to your training sessions or scheduling your cardio routes to pass through water stations.
For more information, visit our Hydration page.
Rest and stress management
While you are unlikely to have a normal schedule when you first start to breastfeed, ensuring you take the time to rest during the day will help boost your energy and protect milk production. Resting plays an important role in physical recovery, healthy immune function and the maintenance of your milk supply, especially as your training volume continues. This will also help you manage your stress levels which are closely linked to success with breastfeeding long term.
For more information, visit our Stress Management page.
Lactic acid levels in breastmilk
While high-intensity training can increase lactic acid levels in breastmilk for a short period, there is no known risk to your baby from the lactic acid in your breastmilk and your baby can still breastfeed.
Supportive sports bra
It is important to wear a supportive and well-fitted sports bra while you are breastfeeding as they serve in reducing unwanted pressure on your breasts which may cause blocked ducts or mastitis. They can also reduce the stretching of your breast tissue minimising the damage to your breasts, in addition to aiding the relief of back and shoulder pain.