11:29 AM

Can Breastfeeding Lead to Bone Injuries Postpartum in Runners?

The Mother Runner's interviews Jessica Rachel Starr, MDendocrinologist at HSS on the increased risk for bone injuries in runners who are newly postpartum, especially if breastfeeding.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can lead to bone injuries postpartum, particularly if you breastfeed beyond 12 weeks and have a history of missed periods or bone loss. Experts advise postpartum runners to focus on getting in proper nutrition, gradually increasing training load, and listening to your body to avoid injuries running postpartum. 

Research shows that women who are breastfeeding will experience 4-6 percent of bone loss because of the lower amounts of estrogen and calcium loss in breast milk. Women who already have bone loss issues such as osteoporosis are at an increased risk if pregnant or lactating, research shows.

The risk for most women comes after about three months of breastfeeding, however, Dr. Starr said.

“The body has protective mechanisms in place to maintain the calcium balance,” she explained. “Our bodies secrete a parathyroid hormone that tells our bodies to put calcium into bone. When we are nursing, our bodies secrete a parathyroid related peptide that makes sure there is enough calcium for both the breastmilk and the bone.”

Dr. Starr suggests getting a bone density scan (DEXA scan) BEFORE you are pregnant to ensure you have good bone health.

This is especially true if you have a history of bone injuries including bone fractures and breaks, stress fractures, and stress reactions; if you missed your period for a prolonged period due to amenorrhea or relevant energy deficiency syndrome (RED-S); or suffered from an eating disorder or disordered eating.  

Read the full article at themotherrunners.com.