Podcast Episode #120

Running and Breastfeeding: With Holistic Lactation Jessica Kahan

Welcome back to another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast.

Today I’m super excited to chat to the lovely Jessica Kahan who is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) a Registered Midwife and an NDC accredited practitioner (Possums clinic trained sleep provider). 

And in this episode we are discussing running and breastfeeding.  Exercise and breastfeeding.

We discuss:

– Can I run while breastfeeding?
– Breastfeeding sports bras for running
– Can you run out of milk whilst running and breastfeeding?
– When is a good time to breastfeeding pre/post run?
– Is there a role for expressing with exercise / running?
– Tips for new mums navigating breastfeeding times and running

** This podcast has general information only. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health or medical condition.

Episode Links

Free Return to Running Checklist

Join our next Return to Running Workshop

Free 7 Day Trial Pregnancy / Postnatal Workouts

FitNest Mama Website

Instagram @fitnestmama

Holistic Lactation Consulting website

Instagram @holistic_lactation_consulting


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Please note that this transcription was completed with computer voice recognition software. Quite often unanticipated grammatical, syntax, homophones, and other interpretive errors are inadvertently transcribed by the computer software. Please disregard these errors. Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.


If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host, Kath Baquie. A physiotherapist working in women’s health and a mum of three. Inside my online program, FitNest Mama, I just love helping support women to care for their bodies during pregnancy, prepare their bodies for birth and support their after birth recovery. Helping them feel confident and strong inside out during this important stage of their lives. In this podcast, join me each week as we dive into all things, pregnancy care, childbirth, and postnatal recovery, helping you through every step of the journey. It is absolutely possible to feel amazing and confident in our bodies during this motherhood journey. And I want that for you. Come and say hi to me on Instagram, @fitnestmama and let’s dive into today’s episode.


Hey, welcome back to another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast. Today I’m super excited to chat to the lovely Jessica Kahan who is an international board certified lactation consultant, a registered midwife and an NDC accredited practitioner. So, it’s opossums clinic trained sleep provider.

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So, in this episode today as part of our returning to exercise series within the podcast, the whole of November has been dedicated to different episodes, all related to returning to running, returning to exercise returning to the higher impact activities. Anyway, in this episode today we’re discussing running and breastfeeding or exercise and breastfeeding. So, it’s a great episode we’re going to discuss can I run while breastfeeding, breastfeeding sports bras for running. We’re going to discuss if you can run out of milk whilst running and breastfeeding. Jessica chats about when is a good time to breastfeed so that the pre run, post run, we discuss the role of expressing with exercise. And also she’s got some great tips for new mums navigating this new stage in terms of navigating breastfeeding times when they’re running or the exercise so I do you use the term running but that’s interchangeable with exercise returning to the gym CrossFit any of those higher impact or higher intensity exercises.

Before we do dive into this episode, I’d love to invite you to join us inside our return to running workshop that is kick starting December 2022 inside FitNest Mama. And if you are listening to this down the track there these are held at regular intervals inside our membership. So, you gain free three weeks access to this return to running workshop. And you will learn the exact exercises and steps to help your body return to running successfully and importantly safely after birth. So as a physio for women everything we do in this workshop is perfectly designed to help you care for your body inside out, recover from birth and help you successfully get those next steps sorted so that you can return to running. So, kick starting December 2022 join us live. You’ll get access to a return to running plan the exercises to support your body in this next stage access to myself a physio with 18 years’ experience and not to mention our beautiful online community with other mums. This workshop is perfect for you to do with your bubbles in tow, and it’s really easy to fit into your busy lifestyle. So, head to the link in the show notes, fitnestmama.com for more information. Right. Let’s dive into this beautiful, quick, short, sharp episode with Jessica.

Jessica, thank you so much for joining me today on the FitNest Mama Podcast. I’m super excited to chat all things, breastfeeding and returning to running and exercise with you today. So thank you.


You’re most welcome. My pleasure.


To start off with I always love this question like how did you get into the world of lactation consulting?


So, I started off as a midwife. So, I’ve been a midwife for about 10 years, and I was working in a busy public hospital. And I just felt that the information women were given around breastfeeding differed so significantly from one practitioner to another, and that women really felt overwhelmed by the overwhelming majority of information and I, I found myself questioning whether I knew the information I was giving out from an evidence-based practice, or whether it was sort of more of a cultural based practice. And so, I thought, you know, want to do additional study. And so, I jumped into lactation consulting, did the training did the exam, I actually sat the exam pregnant with my first child. So, when I had my son, I had maternity leave, and then started up my business while I was on maternity leave, and then just have a look back. So, I did return as a midwife, between my two children, but haven’t returned since having my youngest, who’s now two and a bit. I just been working in private practice full time. So yeah, and loving it.


That would have been perfect timing to do your lactation study.


Yes. It do end up that way. Yes. Yeah. No, it did. When I started the training, I wasn’t pregnant. But yeah, it did end up being really, really good timing in the end.


And I hear what you say I distinctly remember with my first, being in hospital, and finding every midwife was fantastic, and, you know, gave me their all and they did the best. But I do remember feeling so confused because they were all giving different pieces of advice. And it’s not to say that one was better than the other necessarily. It’s just I’m sure there’s multiple ways of going about something. But that is, I think, so important to be able to have one person that you can call upon, just for that consistent message. Yeah, I can say that’s amazing service that you provide. So, I’m going to ask more about that towards the end.

Let’s dive straight into it. Because this month’s theme for the podcast is all about running, returning to running postpartum, not just running but high impact exercise. And for women who perhaps have had a baby and they’re ready to bump their exercise up a bit. And a really common question is what there’s lots of questions, but it’s around breastfeeding and how to navigate breastfeeding with exercise and timing and sports bras and expressing an older at some super excited to chat. Yeah, where should we start?


Up to you far away and we’ll have a chat.


Okay. Number one question I do get asked or concerns around this is can running, alter production of breast milk and all that sort of sort of thing?


Not really, no. So there used to be sort of an idea that high impact running would increase lactic acid in milk, the research on that is pretty flimsy, and that babies don’t tend to have any issues feeding after running. In terms of weight loss, really intense quick rate loss can sometimes impact supply, but generally not. And, you know, if women are, you know, returning to running at three months, they’re probably likely to have been someone who’s run in the past, they’ve probably been quite fit in the past anyway. But yeah, it’s not so much that running or high impact exercise really has much of an impact on supplier on quality of milk or anything like that. It’s it would be potentially really rapid weight loss that possibly could impact supply, but generally not.


And we’ve just had an episode on nutrition at during a space, I think these two episodes go really well.


Yeah, for sure.


Okay, so let’s get to some of the technical side of things. Let’s discuss the say, let’s say a woman’s three months postpartum, like so my mom’s inside FitNest Mama, for example, they’ve been doing a good solid six weeks of gentle and gradual strengthening in core and then ready to return to running and exercising. What are some practical considerations when it comes to breastfeeding?


Yeah, so whenever we’re sort of looking at mum being away from Bob for longer than she otherwise would, our sort of main concerns is, firstly, Bob’s milk intake. Secondly, the protection of supply and then thirdly, the protection of her breast health. So, you know, reducing inflammation, mastitis, blocked ducts, that sort of thing. So, depending on what she’s away from bub for and how long she’s away from bub sort of determines how much we have to really focus on those things. So if mums going for a 45 minute run locally around home kind of thing, and dad’s looking after baby, and she can time that to you know, bub’s has just had a feed gone off to sleep and she can go out for a run, then there wouldn’t be terribly much we’d have to really consider in that way but if she was say, a really long endurance runner or she was meeting a group of friends for a run 45 minutes from home, and she was going to go for a run have a chat with them and then come back 45 minutes and she’s going to be away for four hours. Then that might be you know, additional considerations in that we may need to express in that time, particularly three months postpartum when she’s probably still got quite high supply. Bub’s is still feeding quite frequently, although babies continue to feed frequently throughout. It’s more the flexibility around how, you know, we can’t string this baby out with some water and a yogurt pouch, you know, in the way we could if they were 11 months old. So, there’s that consideration of the baby’s milk needs and whether she’d need to leave a bottle with the carer, if she was going to be away for four hours, probably yes, she would. And I always recommend having a bit of extra because it’s inevitable that someone drops it. So just having that, you know, bit of a little bit of a stash sort of there for someone to be able to feed the baby with a bottle if need be. But if she was going to be away for 45 minutes to an hour, and she’s local, like she’s just running, you know, locally around her, there’s probably no real need for that at all.


That’s why I love, or like running is and walking is such a practical and relatively quick exercise home based workouts like this sort of stuff compared to driving somewhere, going for that hour long run driving home again, yes, a lot more convenient.


Yeah, for sure. And I guess, if she’s just returning to running, you know, she could just go and do, you know, a quick run around the, you know, a couple of blocks or whatever. And if the baby’s distressed, or whatever she can come back, if need be, because we have a lot of babies that won’t take a bottle, you know, and they or they’re just distressed, they’re not necessarily hungry, they just want Mum back. And it’s not necessarily breastfeeding related. So at least, you know, running gives that flexibility of, you can do it anywhere. And you don’t necessarily have to be going to a particular place to do it. But I guess it depends on what that mum’s intention is, and whether she’s in a running group or something like that. And you know, whether she’s going somewhere to do that run, and she’s planning to be or she’s a really long-distance runner, and she’s running really long runs.


Yeah, well, and for anyone who’s listening and thinking, yep, that’s me, even if you’re if you’re 12 weeks postpartum, I still highly recommend, as you’ll have known from my previous episodes, a really gradual return. So even though you might be getting back to long distance running, it might take you a good three months to get there. So, at that stage, you’re six months postpartum. And you know, bubs, is that much older. And you might have started some solids and all the rest.


Yeah, yeah. And I guess in terms of, you know, you brought up browsers and things, browsers can have a big impact on our risk of mastitis, particularly if they’re not well fitted or not, you know, well supported. And particularly, I find a lot of active wear specific breastfeeding bras tend to be ones that you clipped down, and they leave like a window for the breasts to fit through. And sometimes if they’re too tight, particularly if the breasts are quite full, if they’ve been away from their baby for a long time, if they then come to breastfeed the baby, that does increase the risk of those blockages or that inflammation occurring. So, I generally say if you’ve been away from your baby for a while, and you come back, then just take your whole bra off, just so that we’ve really not getting that blockage occurring from clothing, and often activewear can be a lot tighter and more restrictive anyway. So yeah, if she’s sort of gone longer than she would normally, and she’s sort of, you know, coming back feeling a bit full and uncomfortable. Just take it all off into a, yeah, just take it right down.


And I remember I was much more comfortable exercising in the evening versus the morning for that reason, too. And the other consideration, and I, you know, as physios, we do treat mastitis to recommend almost two bra sizes, because you will need a totally different bra size in the morning. Or I did versus in the evening. So, depending on when you go for a run, you don’t want to be wearing a bra that’s too small for you if you’re going for early morning run.


Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s exactly as we want to be comfortable and supported. And, and that does sometimes for some women involves different shapes, different size bras for different, you know, times of day, and, you know, if a woman is running sort of locally, and she’s just going to nip off for you know, a random run, that’s not time to meet other people, she could just, you know, time that to go for a run off, she’s just fed the baby and you know, at a time where she feels they might be more likely to have a bit longer asleep, but they can always obviously be unpredictable. But that might be sort of a you know, an option that she’s not feeling too full when she comes back. But if it’s a long run, then she might or if she’s away for a long time, she’ll be full regardless.


Yeah, great tips. And in terms of expressing, you mentioned it’d be good if it’s a longer run or you’re going to be away from pubs for longer. Yeah, how do you recommend fitting in that expressing because I always found that so hard to find that I had this extra supply in order to create a whole bottle?


Yes, yes. And look, it really does depend on the age individual woman some women just don’t pump well and it’s not an indication of supply it’s not you know that they don’t have much milk, or they don’t have much excess milk. Some women just don’t pump well and no matter how good the pump is, no matter how well fitted the flanges, they just don’t pump well, and those women can find it really challenging to be away from bub, particularly when they are young, and they are exclusively milk fed. And so, they might sort of benefit from just doing the shorter runs locally than, you know, being away for a long period of time. But otherwise, really, anytime that you can find time to express is the best time to express. That’s what I generally say, you know, if we can wait half an hour, 45 minutes after a fee to find time to express Yes, we’ll probably get more milk than what we would if we express straight after a feed, but mums are busy babies take up, you know, they’re there, you know, they need all of us. And if the only time we can possibly find to express is when they’ve just fed off to sleep, then that’s better than not being able to find time, because it just is such a challenging thing to find time to express when you’re looking after a little baby. And, you know, if a woman’s consistently running, you know, she’s going for a three hour, you know, time away from Bob every day or you know, five times a week, she may find that she needs to express while she’s away, and that that milk that she expresses becomes tomorrow’s bottle. But it is quite hard to you know, in terms of storage of milk, if you’re out on an outdoor run, you know, to bring the equipment and stuff you’ve probably realistically be expressing for comfort and tossing that milk, you know, just so that it’s, you know, having to think about storage options and things. But it would really depend on the situation and where she is where she’s running. You know, if it’s at a gym, it might be different. If she’s, you know, going for an outdoor run.


Yeah. Yeah, amazing. I think you have covered off in a really beautiful amount of time. That’s perfect for busy mums. All the questions that I had to finish off with, do you have any final words of wisdom or tips for mums who are about to navigate this whole side of breastfeeding with exercise?


Know, just knowing that breastfeeding can be quite flexible in allowing us to do the things that we like doing. And I mean, there is also potentially the option if a baby likes to is to go in the, you know, for Bubs to go into pram and mum to do a pram run if she’s got a good pram and, and she wants to do that. But it can be nice to have that time away anyway, you know, just for yourself. But for a lot of women, they actually quite like going for a run with the pram and then if the baby does get distressed, you could stop and feed them. But it just I guess depends on you know what suits that individual family. But breastfeeding can be quite flexible in that it is challenged, the younger the baby is, the less flexible it is. But you know, if we’ve got an older baby who’s, you know, eight months, nine months and they eat solids and they drink fluid, while they still require breastfeeding as their main source of nutrition, we’ve got that flexibility to go as long as we’re getting the right number of feeds across 24 hours. You know, if mum’s away for four or five hours, as long as we’re protecting supply and protecting her risk of mastitis the baby’s okay, it’s those three month old babies where we have to be a little bit more cautious of the fact that they are getting all of their food and all of their nutrition and fluid from the breasts that we you know, can’t be quite as flexible. But we can still go for a run, you know and be away for that that period of time.


Yeah. Beautiful. Love it. Thank you so much, Jessica. I really do appreciate your time today. How can the listeners if they want to find out more about you? How can they?


Yep, so I’ve got my website, which is www.holisticlcs.com.au. So, it’s holisticlcs.com.au or my Instagram page is a really great way of just getting some extra information or people can message me via private message on Instagram. So that’s just @holistic_lactation_consulting. And on my website has all my contact details and everything they can fill out a contact form, or just message through Instagram is fine as well.


Amazing. And I’ll put all those links in the show notes too.


Perfect. No worries. Thank you so much so much. It was lovely to chat.


Brilliant. I’ll catch you soon. That’s it, ladies. Before I sign off remember my team and I will be putting together the show notes for this episode with all the links including how to connect with Jessica and also how to join our return to running workshop kick starting in just a few days at fitnestmama.com/podcast. And don’t forget to send Jessica or myself a DM on Instagram. We would love to hear from you.

Have a fabulous day everyone. And I look forward to you joining us either inside our returning to running workshop or next week for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast. And next month December is all about preparing your body for birth. So, if you’re pregnant or you know someone who’s pregnant, this series of podcast episodes for December 2022 is going to be perfect for you. That’s it, ladies. We’ll catch you soon.

Thanks for listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast brought to you by the FitNest Mama Freebies found at www.fitnestmama.com/free. So please take a few seconds to leave a review, subscribe so you don’t miss an episode. And be sure to take a screenshot of this podcast, upload it to your social media and tag me, @fitnestmama so I can give you a shout out too. Until next time. Remember, an active pregnancy, confident childbirth, and strong postnatal recovery is something that you deserve. Remember our disclaimer, materials and contents in this podcast are intended as general information only and shouldn’t substitute any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I’ll see you soon!

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