One of the questions I frequently get asked is whether it is safe for baby to breastfeed right after a new mom works out.  The answer is ‘yes’!  In the past there was some concern that the lactic acid produced by the exercising muscles would find its way to the breast and curdle the milk.  This does not seem to be the case.

Lactic acid (lactate + H+) is produced when the oxygen needs of the muscles exceed the body’s ability to supply it.  This happens at exercise intensities that are so high they can’t be sustained for more than a minute or two – similar to what you experience during a Mom & Baby Bootcamp.  However, there are many low to moderate intensity activities you can participate in that will improve your health without producing excess lactate – walking, slow jogging, Mom & Baby Aquafit, Ease Into Fitness classes.

A recent study (Su et al., 2007) measured growth in infants who were either completely or occasionally breastfed from birth to 52 weeks and whose mothers exercised at a mild to moderate intensity.  They found no significant difference in growth compared to infants whose mothers did not exercise.  Another study looked at the chemical composition of the milk of mothers before & after they exercised and found no significant differences (Bopp et al., 2005) as long as the moms were following a balanced diet.  So, if there are no real differences in chemical composition and no real differences in infant growth, it stands to reason that the milk still tastes good (the infants are eating it) and it isn’t harmful.  Another study (Rich et al., 2004) found that exercising actually enhanced the mother-baby bond, whether the baby was present during the exercise session or not.

So, it appears that benefits such as increased stress tolerance, improved physical capacity and better self-esteem are not the only positive effects of post-natal exercise!

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