Does Breastfeeding Affect the Postpartum Healing Timeline?

Let’s talk about breastfeeding and postpartum healing, and how they may or may not go hand in hand. This is a definite “it depends” topic!

I got a great question in our free AlphaMamas Facebook group this week. It’s a question that comes up A LOT, so I’m answering it here!

I am 5 months pp and breastfeeding. After purchasing I started looking through the Facebook posts and I have seen several posts mentioning that progress cannot be made if breastfeeding. It is pointless to do the exercises if I will be breastfeeding for the next 7 months?”

This is such an important question! The answer is a resounding no, core rehab exercises are essential during the breastfeeding journey. BUT, that doesn’t mean all mamas will fully improve their diastasis recti while breastfeeding. Let me explain.

First of all, breastfeeding or not, it’s never too early to start core rehab exercises. Even if you totally and completely bounced right back after your pregnancy with no visible changes, I promise you, your core is not the same after having a baby, and every mom can benefit from rehab work.

But even though core work is always beneficial, you might not see the visible results of the core work until your breastfeeding journey is over. Every mom is soooo different and many moms do lose weight and strengthen their muscles while breastfeeding. Others find it difficult due to the levels of relaxin they are producing. You won’t know until you try!

It’s important to be aware of the potential impact breastfeeding can have on diastasis recti healing.

  1. Hormonal Effects: Breastfeeding triggers the release of the hormone relaxin, which is also present during pregnancy. Relaxin helps to loosen ligaments and prepare the body for childbirth. However, the continued presence of relaxin during breastfeeding can affect the stability and integrity of the abdominal muscles, potentially prolonging the healing process of diastasis recti. In short, relaxin can keep your muscles and connective tissue loose and weak, preventing that “bounced back” look we all hope for.
  2. Increased Demand on the Core Muscles: Breastfeeding often involves sitting or hunching forward, which can place additional strain on the weakened abdominal muscles. The repeated motion of leaning forward to nurse or pump may exacerbate the separation and hinder the healing progress. Additionally, holding your baby in certain positions for extended periods can strain the core muscles, impacting their recovery.

Supporting Diastasis Recti Healing during Breastfeeding:

  1. Correct Breastfeeding Posture: Maintain good posture while breastfeeding by sitting upright and supporting your back. Use pillows or cushions to provide support for your arms, neck, and lower back. This will help reduce the strain on your abdominal muscles.
  2. Engage Your Core: That’s where a core rehab program like the Core Corrective comes in. The exercises in the program are designed to create function and stability so that your muscles are primed and ready to  get stronger, whether that happens during your breastfeeding journey or after.  Laying the foundation with proper breath work and posture and engaging the deepest core muscles is crucial for healing.

But, if you are breastfeeding, don’t give up on core work before you’ve even tried! We’ve had thousands of moms get great success in the first 4 weeks of the Core Corrective program even while breastfeeding. Give it a try and be consistent!

Just remember the core work we do in the programs is never wasted. Even if you don’t see outward change to your body while breastfeeding, your muscles are getting the workout they need and when the breastfeeding is over, you’d be surprised how quickly you can heal because of the work you put in in the meantime! It’s NEVER a waste to work on core strength. You will be banking muscle memory and good breathing habits that will do wonders for your core strength. Whether it pays off right away or a little longer out.

Additionally, breastfeeding is not always a detriment to postpartum healing! There are a ton of moms who drop weight super fast because of breastfeeding, and are able to regain core strength in a matter of weeks.  But if that’s not you, that doesn’t mean it never will be.

And, here’s an interesting tidbit: After my twins were born, I was able to vastly improve my 4 finger DR gap even while breastfeeding. Then with my third baby, my gap didn’t budge nor did the extra 15 pounds until the breastfeeding was over. So your body can even do different things after different pregnancies! The key is to be patient and give yourself grace no matter how fast or slow the process is for you. Just remember that exercise is never a waste. It’s always beneficial even if the results aren’t visible. Your muscles are still benefitting and you may be surprised how quickly your body heals after breastfeeding. If it doesn’t heal as fast as you’d like during breastfeeding, KEEP GOING!

Here’s the good news about breastfeeding and postpartum healing – if you’re breastfeeding and working on healing your body at the same time, doing all the right exercises, and eating well, but the weight doesn’t seem to budge and your diastasis doesn’t seem to be healing, be encouraged that it’s still possible to achieve total healing when the breastfeeding ends.  Some moms have to consider the day they stop breastfeeding as “day 1” of their healing timeline. Give yourself some grace and remember, breastfeeding is a season, it is not forever. You will feel like yourself again!

If you’re looking for the right place to start your postpartum healing journey, breastfeeding or not, the Core Corrective is perfect for you.


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