Breast Feeding & Exercise
Oestrogen is an important hormone in females that has a wide variety of actions, not least of which is during pregnancy when the levels are very high. Oestrogen is also important for women’s bone strength as well as maintaining healthy muscles, tendons and ligaments. When women breastfeed another hormone, prolactin, is very high and this competes with the production of other hormones including oestrogen.
As a result, oestrogen levels decrease and may lead to symptoms similar to the low oestrogen state that happens with menopause, such as vaginal dryness, hot flushes, fatigue and insomnia. The low oestrogen state can also have a negative effect on muscles and ligaments and may increase the risk of injury. So keep your reduced oestrogen levels in mind when returning to exercise; take it easy and remember all those changes that are going on that aren’t directly visible.
Breast feeding and exercise
1) Chidi-Ogbolu, N and Baar, K. Effect of Estrogen on Musculoskeletal Performance and Injury Risk. Front Physiol. 2018; 9: 1834. doi: 10.3389/fphysi.2018.01834
2) Infant and Young Child Feeding: Model Chapter for Textbooks for Medical Students and Allied Health Professionals. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. SESSION 2, The physiological basis of breastfeeding. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK148970/
If you do experience pelvic pain this is a great website to start with: https://www.pelvicpain.org.au/