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UK Coaching Participation Team
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Females Improving Physical Ability Supporting Specific Needs

Coaching Women Returning to Activity After Childbirth – Episode 4

A series of five articles by Senior Physiotherapist and Postnatal Pelvic Health Specialist Victoria Bateman highlighting some key challenges faced by women after giving birth. The fourth part of the series focuses on breastfeeding and hormones

You may be wondering what on earth breastfeeding has to do with exercise. In fact, it has a lot to do with it, from the social aspects such as frequency of feeding to hormonal differences that alter a woman’s emotional state as well as the body’s joint mechanics.

According to Public Health England (2010 survey), 81% of new mothers start to breastfeed, with 12% still breastfeeding at 4 months after childbirth. 

For mum, knowing when to start exercising as a postnatal female can sometimes be challenging, with little knowledge out there of what to consider. Moderate exercise improves both physical health and emotional well-being for mothers, with benefits including improved fitness; increased energy levels; reduced stress levels and reduction in depressive symptoms (Bonyata, 2019).

The link between breastfeeding and calories

One myth to address first is that exercise doesn’t affect milk supply in those who are breastfeeding (Cary & Finn, 2001). A lot of mums want to get back to exercise to help them return to their pre-pregnancy weight.  

Another common myth is that if you breastfeed your weight will drop quicker. Breastfeeding does consume calories, approximately 200-500 calories a day, however this varies significantly from woman to woman depending on their weight, activity levels and the food they consume.  

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UK Coaching Participation Team