It is a common assumption that breastfeeding is challenging, but with a few tips and tricks, many moms find it to be a comfortable, convenient choice. Preparing to breastfeed is an important part of your pregnancy journey. There are a few things you can do to make the transition into breastfeeding much easier.
Just as in pregnancy, it is good to aim for a nutritious and wholesome diet, but you don’t need eat perfectly all of the time. Our bodies tend to prioritize our babies and preferentially direct nutrients to them when pregnant or breastfeeding. Breastfeeding actually does expend a lot of energy, so eating enough food is really important too. It’s recommended taking in an extra 500 calories per day while you are breastfeeding. You’ll want to make sure you consume enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates every day.
When it comes to your diet, there are some things that you will want to take note of while breastfeeding. A theme of moderation can be applied in many cases, such as caffeine intake. It is also fine to have an occasional drink when you are breastfeeding, but be mindful that your breast milk alcohol content mirrors your blood alcohol content, and you should try not to exceed having a serving of alcohol in your system at any given feeding time. “Pumping and dumping” the milk will not change this- the milk your body produces afterward will still reflect whatever your current blood alcohol content is. No amount of tobacco use is good for our health, breastfeeding or not, but smoking is not considered a direct contraindication to breastfeeding. For any medications or substances, you should always check with your midwife, physician, or pediatrician first.
Choose a Good Pediatrician
Having support really matters when becoming a mom, and choosing a good pediatrician to have by your side is important for breastfeeding. Pediatricians become an important resource for support.
You will want your pediatrician to be qualified, compassionate, and trustworthy. Not only will they be contributing to the care of your child, but they can also give you advice about breastfeeding. To find a breastfeeding friendly pediatric office, ask about lactation support available in office, and what percentage of patients are exclusively breastfeeding at six months. How many are still nursing at one year? It is important to pick a pediatrician who you will feel comfortable asking breastfeeding-related questions to. Make sure you choose one who will support you and guide you through it.
Consider a Lactation Consultant
If you’re a new mom and you’re worried about breastfeeding, try not to be too hard on yourself. Breastfeeding can involve a bit of a learning process, so you could consider hiring a lactation consultant to help answer questions and offer support.
Lactation consultants are breastfeeding specialists. They can work one-on-one with you to help prepare for breastfeeding. They can also help with any issues that arise such as painful breastfeeding, latching problems, milk production issues, and insufficient weight gain for the baby. If you are looking for more hands-on, individualized, or in home support for breastfeeding, you should consider a lactation consultant.
Classes are available in many locations and cover lots of subjects, including the importance of breastfeeding, breastfeeding after birth, feeding cues, newborn nutrition, milk expression, confidence in breastfeeding, and more. Many times, these classes conclude with a Q&A portion where you can raise any questions that came up during the class. Classes can are offered pre and post-baby, so keep both options in mind.
Check out La Leche League. La Leche League is all about providing mother-to-mother support about breastfeeding. Their volunteer leaders offer support in person and by phone, as well as online. Their website is a great resource for information.
Still have some burning questions about breastfeeding? Are you having difficulty with pain, engorgement, milk supply, or signs of infection? Consider calling your midwife or obstetrician/ gynecologist for an appointment.