In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), I am dedicating this month’s blog issue to all-things-breastfeeding! First of all, I want to congratulate you on your decision to give your child breast milk!
We all know that breast milk is best, but the act of breastfeeding can sometimes be overwhelming and a little difficult. There is so much to learn and understand about lactation that I could spend many, many hours talking about it all! Since I know you don’t have that much time, I decided to put together 20 do’s and don’ts instead!
- DO practice skin-to-skin with your baby, as it promotes correct suckling, less crying, warmth, less separation, and of course breastfeeding!
- DO breastfeed or express your milk 8-12 times in a 24hr period during the newborn period.
- DO learn how to hand express your milk. It’s useful to understand how to do it, and often you can hand express an additional amount of milk after pumping, thus helping your supply increase.
- DO check with your health care provider or lactation counselor before taking any medications (prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal). You can also check online at sites like LactMed or Infant Risk.
- DO keep alcohol consumption to a moderate amount while breastfeeding. According to the Institute of Medicine, a 132lb woman could have approximately 2-2.5oz oz of liquor, 8oz of table wine, or 2 cans of beer a day. If you do drink alcohol, don’t bother “pumping and dumping”, as alcohol is water soluable and can move in and out of your milk supply. By the time you are no longer feeling the effects of the alcohol, and it’s cleared out of your body, it will also be cleared out of your milk.
- DO try to quit smoking if you are currently doing so. While it’s not forbidden for breastfeeding, it’s best for your health to quit! If you do smoke, the most important thing to remember is that your baby needs to be protected from second-hand smoke. Never allow someone to smoke around your baby. And in pregnancy, don’t allow yourself to be around it if at all possible. It’s never too late to quit, so talk to your doctor about ways to do so!
- DO talk to a lactation counselor if you feel like you’re not making enough milk or that your baby is not drinking enough so a proper assessment can be made, including a before-and-after-feed weight check.
- DO use a back up birth control method while breastfeeding. In the first 6 months you might be able to use the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM), but it is no longer effective after that age. This means that you could get pregnant again while nursing!
- DO continue to breastfeed your child exclusively for the first 6 months, adding in complementary solids around 6 months. Then, if you’re both up to it continue to nurse for 1 year (or 2, 3, or more years)! And be sure that you’re eating a balanced diet so that baby is getting the most nutritious milk possible!
- DON’T introduce a pacifier until baby is at least one month old and breastfeeding has been well established.
- DON’T put a limit on your baby’s feeding time. Let baby nurse until he/she is finished. That being said, longer feeding times (more than 30mins) are associated with lower levels of milk transfer, so if feeds are continually taking that long you should talk to a lactation counselor or pediatrician.
- DON’T worry about the size of your breasts being an indication of whether or not you will produce enough milk for your child/children. The proportion of glandular and fat tissue are not related to milk production.
- DON’T offer complementary solids until baby is at least 6 months old. Breast milk should be the primary source of nutrition for your child until one year old. And contrary to what many think, it will not make your baby sleep any longer!
- DON’T drink excess water while pumping or breastfeeding, as it’s no longer recommended. More water does not equal more milk! You need to only drink to quench your thirst, though be sure to drink enough. If you drink an 8oz cup every time you nurse or pump, you should be good.
- DON’T avoid your favorite foods for fear they’re too gassy or spicy. For the majority of babies this is not needed. There are no foods that nursing mothers should always avoid. If, however, your baby seems to be having a reaction to something in your diet, remove it temporarily from your diet and talk to your doctor, as there might be an allergy to something you’re eating/drinking (ex: cow’s milk). Or if there is a family history of allergies (such as peanuts), you should avoid that food both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
- DON’T suffer with nipple pain! Breastfeeding should not hurt, so if it does seek help from a professional such as myself to get to the root of your pain.
- DON’T pump or hand express your milk if engorgement is your issue. Doing so will just cause your body to make more milk. Instead, take a warm shower/bath or use a dishpan of warm water to soak your breasts in. This will allow the milk to flow out, giving you relief without telling your body to replace the milk.
- DON’T be discouraged about your ability to breastfeed if you’re pregnant with multiples. Many mothers have successfully nursed their twins, triplets, quads or more! Your body is able to make the amount of milk needed for all of your babies. There are things you can do though to ensure you produce as much as possible, so talk to a lactation counselor to find out more.
- DON’T wait to contact your health care practitioner if you have redness, lumps, red streaks, or flu-like symptoms. Contact a lactation counselor for blocked ducts, engorgement, cracked nipples, nipple pain, latching problems, milk supply issues, or general non-emergency questions.
Breastfeeding may be a natural occurrence, but it’s not always an easy one! Many moms will struggle with breastfeeding at least one of their children (for me it was 3 out of 4). But even though it’s hard work, it’s worth the effort! Education is key, along with getting professional help when you need it!
Besides breastfeeding consultations, I also offer a great prenatal breastfeeding package that can be a stand-alone package, or it can be coupled with a prenatal sleep plan for the ultimate in prenatal classes! For more information about the breastfeeding services I offer, please CLICK HERE!
I will be releasing a Breastfeeding Basics course at the end of this month (along with Prenatal Nutrition and Newborn Sleep), so please keep an eye out for that! All courses can be found by CLICKING HERE. If you’re unsure about how I can help you, or just want more information, I offer a free 15min phone chat so we can learn more about each other. CLICK HERE if you’d like to set up a time!