As a fitness professional working with pregnant clients, it’s important to stay informed about the latest research on exercise during pregnancy and its effects on both the mother and the baby. A recent area of interest is the impact of physical activity on breast milk composition and, consequently, on infant health. Here’s how you can use this information to benefit your clients:

Understanding the Research

The MILKSHAKE trial (Moholdt et al., 2023) is a pioneering study that explores how an exercise regimen for breastfeeding individuals with overweight/obesity can alter the composition of breast milk. The trial’s focus is on the human milk oligosaccharide 3’sialyllactose, a compound critical for infant development. While the results are pending, the study’s design suggests that moderate to high-intensity endurance exercise could lead to beneficial changes in breast milk that promote healthy growth and body composition in infants.

Similarly, a randomised controlled trial by Amini, Afrasiabifar, and Taghavi (2020) investigated the effects of aerobic exercise on breastfeeding mothers and their babies. The study found that mothers who engaged in regular aerobic exercise postpartum produced breast milk that supported optimal neonatal growth. This research provides compelling evidence that postnatal exercise has a direct correlation with the quality of breast milk, which in turn can influence the health trajectory of the child.

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Practical Applications

  • Educate Your Clients: Share the potential benefits of exercise during pregnancy, emphasising not just the immediate health benefits but also the long-term advantages for their children.
  • Develop Safe Exercise Programmes: Create tailored exercise routines that are safe for pregnant clients, considering their fitness levels and any medical advice they have received.
  • Encourage Consistency: Help your clients establish a regular exercise routine, as the benefits to breast milk composition are likely tied to consistent physical activity.
  • Monitor Intensity: While exercise is beneficial, it’s important to monitor the intensity to ensure it’s within safe limits for both the mother and the baby.
  • Collaborate with Healthcare Providers: While exercise is beneficial, it’s important to monitor the intensity to ensure it’s within safe limits for both the mother and the baby.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up to date with ongoing research, such as the MILKSHAKE trial, to refine your training programmes based on the latest findings.

The emerging evidence suggests that exercise during pregnancy can have a positive impact on breast milk composition and infant health. As fitness professionals, incorporating this knowledge into your practice can help you provide better guidance to your pregnant clients, ensuring they and their babies reap the full benefits of physical activity.


  1. Moholdt, T., Ashby, E. R., Tømmerdal, K. H., Lemoine, M. C. C., Holm, R. L., Sætrom, P., … & Giskeødegård, G. (2023). Randomised controlled trial of exercise training during lactation on breast milk composition in breastfeeding people with overweight/obesity: a study protocol for the MILKSHAKE trial. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. Click here to review the full research article
  2. Amini, A., Afrasiabifar, A., & Taghavi, S. (2020). Breast feeding Optimality and Neonate’s Growth after Mother Aerobic Exercise; A Randomised Controlled Clinical Trial. Journal of Clinical Care and Skills. Click here to review the full research article

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