While you are reading my post today, I should be on maternity leave with baby #3. What a blessing children can be, but also a lot of work. Something that can take a lot of work as a new mom or experienced mom is breastfeeding. My plan is to breastfeed baby #3 like I did with my first two, but you never know. My previous two experiences breastfeeding were completely different from each other.
We have been told over and over again that the breast is always best, so you think it would come naturally and be easy to breastfeed, but I can tell you from personal experience, it is not. There are numerous studies pointing to the nutritional and health benefits of breast milk: reduced risk of illness, decreased rate of obesity, reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome, as well as improved maternal outcomes for reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, postpartum depression and some forms of cancer. However, sometimes breastfeeding isn’t possible. This may be due to not producing enough milk, baby not latching, pain during breastfeeding, medical conditions in mother or baby, not enough support or a mother chooses not to breastfeed.
If you decide to breastfeed and are struggling, reach out for support. I had a lot of problems breastfeeding my first child and spent many of hours with lactation consultants. One of our very own Springfield Clinic dietitians, Alana Scopel, is a Certified Lactation Counselor. She can assist first-time moms, in addition to moms who had breastfed previously but encountered problems with their newest baby. Seeking out other lactation consultants/breastfeeding support groups at your local hospital/doctor office, La Leche League, or experienced breastfeeding mom friends are other options. We as moms need to educate ourselves on the support that is available.
Additionally, if you decide to breastfeed, you need to make sure you take care of yourself. Here are recommendations and tricks I’ve tried throughout my time breastfeeding.
- Drink plenty of water. That is easier said than done. I stash water bottles all over the house, car, diaper bag and pump bag. Some days it only seems I can get water when I have an opportunity to sit down and nurse, so make sure there is water there to drink when you get a chance. The key to remember is that your water intake affects your milk production. I can tell you first hand it does.
- Get plenty of rest. Yeah right!!! Remember, some rest is better than nothing. The dishes, laundry and housecleaning can wait. With my second child, I would set alarms on my phone as a reminder to myself to sit down even for a few minutes to rest.
- Continue taking your prenatal vitamins. You still need all those nutrients when lactating. These vitamins not only help you, but help baby. I keep the prenatal vitamin bottle visible on the kitchen counter or on my night stand to remind me to take them.
- You still need extra calories. I know, I know…we want to get the baby weight off. The old saying is, it took nine months to put the weight on, don’t expect it to come off tomorrow. Remember that with work and time the weight will come off, but for now you need those extra calories for milk production. The key to remember is where you are getting those extra calories from. Getting extra calories from sweets is not the same as getting the extra calories from lean protein, dairy, whole grains, and fruits/vegetables. If you have questions about what you should be eating during pregnancy or postpartum, don’t be afraid to ask any of the Springfield Clinic dietitians.
Whatever choice we as mothers make, whether to breastfeed or formula feed, it is the right decision for us and our babies. We should never be made to feel guilty about our choice or circumstance. Being happy is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and our baby, and if that means breastfeeding and/or formula feeding, then that’s the best choice.