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Getting Your Body Back into Shape

Many women are anxious to start an exercise program after giving birth. Once your body has healed from childbirth (at least 8 weeks postpartum), there is no reason you cannot start a fitness program. Moderate exercise will not change the taste or quality of your breast milk. There has been some concern that the lactic acid that builds up during high-intensity physical activity could change the taste of breast milk. While this is possible, the change would only be minor, would be harmless to baby, and would only occur with very high levels of exercise – above the aerobic threshold. You need not worry about the quantity of your breast milk either. In fact, in some studies active mothers produced more breast milk than mothers who were not active!

If you want to start exercising there are some things you can do to make things easier and prevent possible problems.

  • Start slow, especially if you were not exercising during pregnancy.
  • Choose a workout bra that offers enough support, but isn’t too binding. A too-tight bra can cause plugged-ducts and mastitis.
  • For obvious reasons, you may want to skip the jumping and bouncing in favor of a more low-impact approach.
  • Remember to stay hydrated. It is especially important for a breastfeeding mom to replace the fluids she loses when she exercises.
  • Feed baby just before you exercise. You are likely to be calmer and it will give you a few extra minutes to take a shower before the next feeding. Some babies will refuse the breast because they do not like the taste of the salt in your sweat.
  • Remember that walking is great exercise! One of the best things about walking is that you don’t need to rely on the daycare at the gym. Just load up the sling or stroller and you are on your way. Great for baby too!

Starting an exercise program can be hard at first, but stick with it, it does get easier. Adopting an active, healthy lifestyle is one of the best things your can do for yourself and your baby!