After your new baby arrives, the real work begins — and maintaining your baby’s diet is a top priority. For the first few months of their life, they’ll rely on breast milk, so you’ll need to have this in adequate supply. Now the question is: Will using a sauna affect breast milk?
You can use a sauna after giving birth, as it helps relieve stress and recover from labor. The heat from a sauna also increases milk production. Don’t exert yourself by staying in the sauna for too long though, typically just long enough to break a sweat for 10-20 minutes.
Even though saunas are acceptable after the delivery, there are some other things you do need to avoid postpartum. Before we look at those things, let’s discuss the benefits of using a sauna after you give birth and beyond.
Can You Use a Sauna While Nursing or Breastfeeding?
While it’s great news that there’s a baby on the way, it’s also time for the mother-to-be to abstain from some things, and a sauna is one of them. To learn why a sauna isn’t good for pregnant women, you should make a pitstop at this article (insert the link to “Can You Use an Infrared Sauna While Pregnant?”).
All these rules surrounding pregnancy don’t end after delivery. While nursing or breastfeeding, some activities are still a no-no for new mothers, but is it okay to use a sauna during this period? Well, good news! New mothers can use a sauna while breastfeeding.
Everyone knows that new mothers go through a lot of emotional and physical changes and have to destress at some point. Using a sauna can help you get rid of the stress associated with new motherhood — and, beyond that, the heat from the steamy room can help the body stimulate lactation and recover from labor. It can also improve sleep quality.
Nonetheless, you might be wondering if the heat from a sauna can damage breastmilk. Usually, when you sweat in a sauna, the sweat glands expel chemicals and pathogens, and sometimes these toxins can get into your breastmilk.
Experts recommend that you wait at least two hours after a sauna session before breastfeeding your baby. That way, the harmful waste won’t be present in your child’s meal.
There’s not much else to worry about. In fact, a sauna helps increase milk production, which means you have more supply for your baby.
Also, based on the type of sauna you’re using, you might want to pay attention to some of these specific details.
Traditional saunas have high heat and low moisture, with an average temperature of 177° F and 30% humidity. While the heat helps with milk production, increased heat can also cause some amount of milk to evaporate while you’re in the sauna.
According to research, a 1% increase in temperature leads to milk loss of 0.008 g/min.
Unlike traditional saunas, infrared saunas operate at an average temperature of 140° F and with low humidity. The heat also guarantees high milk production, but there’s a low risk of evaporation due to less moisture in the atmosphere.
To be on the safe side, regardless of whether you use a traditional sauna or the infrared one, you should not stay in for longer than 10 minutes.
Also, pay attention to any signs that you’re starting to get uncomfortable, and leave as soon as those signs begin to manifest. In general, it’s best to consult your doctor to verify that you can use a sauna while nursing.
Benefits of Using a Sauna Postpartum
Besides increasing milk flow, there are several other reasons why you should use a sauna after having your baby. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
- Postpartum recovery: In some cases, labor has irreversible effects on the human body. By stimulating the release of endorphins, saunas help with pregnancy recovery. Endorphins are known to help with pain tolerance.
Additionally, sweat promotes good blood circulation and enhances the production of white blood cells, which promotes healing. An increase in blood circulation will also boost your metabolism. This will help you shed pregnancy weight, so it will appear almost as if you have never been pregnant.
For maximum weight loss results, set up multiple sauna sessions.
- Increased breast milk production: The hot, humid air in a sauna increases the flow of breastmilk, which we’ve already discussed. Mothers who have been having a hard time producing milk can really benefit from this.
- Sleep quality is improved: Sleep is a precious commodity for new mothers. Saunas have the added benefit of promoting better sleep.
Saunas can also ease the process of falling asleep by reducing anxiety (which may reduce postpartum depression).
- Absorption of stretch-mark products: Pregnant women experience many changes to their bodies during pregnancy, including stretch marks. Sauna steam can reduce stretch marks and help stretch-mark creams absorb better. Some of the best ingredients to reduce stretch marks are Vitamin A, coconut oil, and hyaluronic acid.
- Relaxation time: Your baby’s arrival is just the beginning of dozens of mommy duties you have to handle. Eventually, tiredness and hormonal changes are likely to overwhelm you.
You can get away from postpartum stress by going to a sauna and spending some quality time alone. To maintain hormone balance after childbirth, women need to relax. In the sauna, you can relax and slow down naturally and easily.
Furthermore, cortisol levels are reduced by 25% with this therapy. Breastfeeding mothers must consider this, because excess hormones can be transmitted to their babies through milk.
It might be risky to stay in the sauna while you’re actually pregnant, but you can’t afford to miss a postpartum session! However, remember to limit the time to 10 minutes due to the possibility of milk evaporation.
What Should You Avoid After Giving Birth?
After delivery, you can resume many of your regular activities. However, there are essential things you should avoid after giving birth. Here are some of them.
Don’t Overwork Yourself
Babies are demanding creatures, and as a mother, you might be subjected to very little sleep, frequent feeding, and constant diaper changes. This might be a lot to handle, and you can get overwhelmed.
No matter how busy you might get, always take some time to relax and take care of yourself and your body — don’t overdo it. Overworking yourself can lead to muscle strain, injury and anxiety, so watch out for signs that you need to rest.
In the same vein, if you want to exercise, go slow. Start with gentle walks until the doctor says you can resume high-intensity workouts.
Don’t Overlook Pain
Most mothers will experience postpartum pains, but the duration and degree depend on whether it was your first delivery, the mode of delivery (C-section or vaginal delivery), and any complications during or after giving birth. Some typical pains you can experience are:
- Pains in the joints, neck, or back
- Pain from swollen breasts
- Cramping as the uterus goes back to its normal size
- Pain around your vaginal or anus area
The following aren’t normal:
- Severe headache that sometimes affects your vision
- Pain whenever you urinate
- Abnormal breathing or chest pain
- Pain in one area of your breast
- Abnormally high fever
- Heavy bleeding that lasts longer than one or two hours
- Smelly discharge
These pains shouldn’t be ignored, and you should contact your doctor if you start experiencing any of these.
While your baby’s diet is probably the most important thing right now, your personal diet should also be a priority. A breastfeeding mother needs about 400-500 extra calories daily to increase milk supply, so you need to consume approximately 2,500 calories daily.
These foods should be your target:
- Whole foods like vegetables, fresh fruits, lean protein, and whole grains
- Foods low in saturated fats
- Prenatal or post-natal vitamins
- Plenty of water — you should drink at least 16 cups of liquid daily while breastfeeding
Don’t Hide Your Feelings
Postpartum stress, sadness, and anxiety are natural, and many mothers experience this in intense degrees in the first 10 to 14 days after delivery. However, if you still feel unlike yourself after two weeks, it might be a case of postpartum depression.
Don’t worry; you aren’t alone, and the condition is treatable. The first step to getting better is informing your loved ones or a doctor. Don’t hide your situation.