Exercise Doesn’t Affect Breastmilk
A new study has recently been published refuting previous studies that showed exercise while breastfeeding could have a negative effect on a mother’s breast milk. The previous study’s data showed that women who exercised often while breastfeeding had fewer immune antibodies in their breast milk, which may have hindered their babies’ growth. Depending on the intensity of the mothers’ exercise, the researchers hypothesized that the immune levels also fluctuated from week to week. Doctors thought this may lead to babies of exercising mothers gaining less weight.
The lead researcher on this most recent study, Amanda Daley of the University of Birmingham in Britain, said “Based on what we know at the moment, babies of mums who exercise do not gain less weight than babies of mothers who do not exercise." Her findings were published in the journal Pediatrics earlier this week. Another scientist involved in earlier research on the subject, nutrition professor Cheryl Lovelady of the University of North Carolina Greensboro, said her findings showed that women can safely exercise while breastfeeding.
For women who were inactive during pregnancy, it's best to take it slowly after giving birth, according to Lovelady. She recommended that those women take a couple of weeks to establish breastfeeding, and then gradually become active. She says that brisk walking is the best way to start, and with a runner stroller, it is a great way for mom and baby to get some fresh air together.
The World Health Organization, and hundreds of other experts agree that ‘breast is best’ for babies’ healthy growth. They recommend that women try to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months after a baby is born, then add solid foods to the child's diet. Ideally, babies should keep getting breast milk for at least their first year, they say.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about what is the healthiest option for you and your baby. If you exercised less during pregnancy, she may recommend slowly getting back into it. If you were exceptionally active, you might be able to start a slightly reduced exercise regimen right away. If you are having trouble producing enough milk, or are finding constantly pumping difficult, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant about it. Lactation consultants in particular have a wealth of tools which may help you find the easiest way to keep your baby healthy, and gaining proper weight.
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