A common myth with pregnancy is physical exercise may result in adverse outcomes. However, exercising during pregnancy is associated with a range of benefits. In fact it can help prevent complications!
How often should pregnant women exercise?
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecology Canada (SOGC) recommends that pregnant women (with no risk factors or complications) accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as aerobic, resistance and yoga/stretching activities) per week. The benefits of exercise don’t stop after pregnancy though!
Should you exercise after giving birth?
Physical activity after pregnancy and childbirth can also have a range of benefits. These include stress relief, prevention of postpartum mood disorders, reduction in anxiety/depressive symptoms, improved sleep and energy levels, as well as increased abdominal strength and weight loss. Yet, many women have concerns surrounding exercise during the postpartum period and how increased physical activity may impact their own recovery, breastmilk supply, and/or their baby’s growth and development.
4 Things Postpartum Moms Should Know Before Exercising
1. Moderate intensity exercise does not change the composition, supply, or infant acceptance of breastmilk. Although, at high-intensity levels of exercise, there may be higher levels of lactic acid in breast milk which might alter breastmilk taste and infant acceptance.
TIP: Timing nursing sessions so that they occur before intense or even moderate physical activity can help improve struggles with infant acceptance of breastmilk and help to alleviate discomfort associated with breast fullness and heaviness during exercise
2. Weight loss can take time. Be patient with your body and mindful to avoid expending significantly more calories than you are consuming
3. Walking is a great place to start when it comes to physical activity during the postpartum period and as time progresses and strength increases, exercises activities can expand to include yoga, aerobics, swimming, cycling, or whatever feels right for you and your body
TIP: always make sure to check with your healthcare provider regarding an exercise guideline or prescription that is safe and appropriate for you!
4. Hydration is key! Aim for clear urine which is a good sign that your body is well hydrated. If you notice your urine is dark yellow urine, take it as a sign to increase your fluid intake.
The key takeaway
Physical activity is a healthy and important component of the postpartum period that promotes physical and emotional recovery and can help facilitate the adjustment to life as a new parent! When it comes to breastfeeding, exercise and breastfeeding absolutely can and should co-exist. The best part: exercise can involve your baby too! Look for “mommy/family and me” classes that both you and your baby can attend together!