Breastfeeding and nursing are often conveyed as something that comes naturally to a mother. While that is partially true, it is also often the hardest part of the newborn stage.
As new mothers or new mothers-to-be, we tend to prepare ourselves for everything that is to come, such as the birthing process, what to put in the nursery, and more. Educating ourselves about breastfeeding is just as important but is often overlooked.
This is why we have come up with a complete breastfeeding guide that will help mothers to navigate through everything possible that is related to breastfeeding.
With a little help, you will figure out to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby.
Making the Decision to Breastfeed….or Not.
Choosing to breastfeed or not is a conscious decision that mothers make, and whatever they decide to do is personal to them.
There are a number of benefits to breastfeeding that formula will not match.
With that being said, these advantages may not be worthwhile if the mother is in physical or emotional stress. Deciding not to breastfeed does not mean the bond between baby and mother will be any less.
We will highlight the benefits of both breastfeeding and formula feeding so that it will help mothers decide what is best for them and their little ones.
Benefits of Breastfeeding and Breast Milk
- Breast milk contains nutrients and immunity-boosting antibodies that are vital for the baby for the first couple of months of life. After giving birth, the breasts produce colostrum , which is a thick and yellow liquid. Its high protein content and other nutrients enable the baby to develop a healthy digestive tract and immune system.
- Breastfeeding may prevent a number of diseases for the baby such as:
- Respiratory infections
- Bowel diseases
- Breast milk prevents childhood obesity . It enables babies to develop a healthy eating pattern because they only eat till their hunger is satisfied.
- Breast milk prevents allergies and eczema since it contains proteins that can be digested more easily, and don’t trigger an allergic reaction.
- According to some studies , babies who were breastfed have higher levels of IQ and are more likely to have a healthy brain development in the long term.
- Breastfeeding helps in uterus contraction . There is a high production of oxytocin during breastfeeding that helps the uterus go back to its normal size.
- Postpartum depression (PPD) is a depression that mothers tend to face after giving birth which causes severe exhaustion and sadness. According to some studies, breastfeeding prevents this . However, PPD can also be a cause of not being able to breastfeed properly and it is important to let your doctor know about this.
- Breastfeeding helps prevent various diseases for mothers, such as:
- ovarian cancer,
- Heart diseases,
- High blood pressure,
- Breastfeeding is economical and also less time-consuming. You won’t have to worry about things that are associated with the formula such as:
- the cost,
- Cleaning and sterilizing the bottles,
- Preparing the formula in the middle of the night,
- Having to figure how to warm the bottle if you are not home.
“Can Breastfeeding Help me Lose Weight?”
Breastfeeding involves burning of calories and after 2-3 months of lactation, there is an increase in fat burning which makes the mother lose weight. The amount of weight loss varies from woman to woman.
However, relying solely on breastfeeding is not the answer to lose excess pregnancy weight.
This is because the research isn’t conclusive and some mothers tend to gain weight during breastfeeding as well.
Is Formula as Good as Breast Milk?
The breast vs formula debate can get quite heated with people having strong opinions for each stance. If you are a mom who is doubtful about your feeding choices, you should know that formula is just as good as breast milk .
According to a lactation expert, Dr. Courtney Jung : “The fact is, formula feeding is a completely safe and nutritious alternative to breastfeeding. If you want or need to feed your baby formula, do it with confidence. ”
There are plenty of other benefits to formula feeding that we have also listed down for you in this comprehensive breastfeeding guide:
- You can share the responsibility of feeding your baby with your partner or other family members. Breastfeeding takes a lot of time and is often strenuous on the body as well. With formula feeding, mothers can get more rest and also take relief in the fact that someone else can also feed the baby.
- Sometimes babies lose weight because they are not eating enough, and formula is a great way to track how much the baby is being fed .
- With formula feeding, mothers don’t have to worry about taking medications , like painkillers, that could affect the breast milk. This will allow you to take care of yourself and your baby with peace of mind.
- You will have more time for yourself and will be more relaxed.
A happy mother means a happy baby which is why it is important to decide on a feeding choice that works for both you and your baby.
Learning How to Breastfeed as a First Time Mom
It is very common for women to struggle with breastfeeding in the beginning. People may think that since women have been doing this since the beginning of time, it is something that “just happens”.
However, adapting to these new circumstances takes time and patience just like anything else.
This section in the comprehensive guide is all about the basics of breastfeeding. We advise new moms and moms who are expecting to educate themselves as much as they can about the process of breastfeeding.
1. How to Prepare to Breastfeed
Just like you prepare yourself as much as you can for giving birth and for what is to come after, you should do the same for breastfeeding as well.
During your pregnancy, get the best advice you can from your doctors, family and friends – ie, people who have done this before . You can schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant who will let you know all the fundamentals you need to know regarding breastfeeding.
“ How do I prepare my body to breastfeed? ”Your body has taken care of this from the beginning of your pregnancy. The tingling sensation in your nipples, your breasts feeling tender, and leaking of colostrum is your body preparing to breastfeed for when the baby arrives. In the duration of the pregnancy, the milk producing cells increase, and continue to develop till you have the baby.
After your baby is born, it is important to have skin-to-skin contac t. Your midwife will assist you with a breastfeeding position that is most comfortable for you after delivery.
Your baby may use their rooting reflexes and latch on to your breast instantly or they may rest for a while and then feed later.
During this entire process, it is important to remember that your body will adjust to this new endeavour. Breastfeeding may be painful in the beginning but it is a matter of adapting, and pretty soon it will be the norm for you.
2. How to Make Breast Milk Flow
In the first week after delivery, your body will produce breast milk whether or not you are breastfeeding.
After then, the continued production of breast milk will be based on supply and demand . This means, in order to establish and maintain breast milk flow for your baby (the supply), you will have to either breastfeed or pump regularly (the demand).
Breastfeeding every two to three hours will cause your breasts to get empty, keep your prolactin levels up (the hormones that signal the milk-making glands to make milk) which will stimulate the milk production to keep going.
3. How to Get a Good Latch with Newborn
This is the moment that you have been waiting for: Your baby taking in a chunk of your nipple and “latching on”, beginning to suck and drawing out the milk.
A good latch is when your nipple doesn’t feel extremely sore, and your baby gets all the food they need until their next meal.
If all of this sounds like too much for you, or you are worried about something going wrong, it is important to know that babies are hardwired to find their mother’s breast and latch on. They often need very little help to do so as well.
Here are some ways you can ensure a good latch right from the start:
- You need to find a sweet spot you can stay in for some time. While some experts recommend a reclined position, you can do whatever is comfortable for you. Get all the pillows you need, and ask your partner to be there to help you with the baby.
- On your bare chest , put your baby in such a way that their chin and cheeks touch your breasts.
- By having your hand on the baby’s upper back and neck, stimulate their interest in your nipple so that they open their mouth.
- You can squeeze out some colostrum by rubbing your thumb back and forth across the nipple, and then gently pressing your areola.
- Your baby’s lips should be close to your nipple , so that when they smell the colostrum, they will open their mouth and latch on.
- You will know your baby is swallowing when you see their temple and lower jaw move in sync , and their sweet occasional exhales.
While it is common for new mothers to experience some nipple soreness, it should go away a little while after the baby has latched on. If you feel discomfort lasting the whole feeding session, and if your nipple is cracked or bleeding, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Sometimes issues arise that interfere with breastfeeding but there is almost always a solution for it.
Breastfeeding Support Groups Near Me
Having a little bit of help goes a long way and having mothers around you who are going through the same thing can be comforting. This can be a great way to make new friends as well!
Because of the current ongoing pandemic, most support groups have suspended their meetings. However, the same groups have thriving online platforms where you can still interact with moms alike and seek comfort.
The LLL support group is ideal for new mothers who require support when it comes to nursing. The group is specific to breastfeeding so you can find all the best advice and use it as a resource.
What to Expect is a great website for moms and dads who are going through the journey of pregnancy and having a baby. It also has a great Breastfeeding Forum with more than 150K members, and around 60K topics for discussion.
Any question you may have, no matter how unusual you think it is, is probably already answered there.
As a women only Facebook group, it is a safe place for all types of questions related to breastfeeding.
How to Breastfeed a Newborn Baby: A Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Look for baby’s hunger cues
There is not a lot to look out for when it comes to spotting baby’s hunger cues, thanks to their expansive vocabulary.
Babies need to feed every two to three hours, so if you see any of these signs around that time know that it is time to eat for baby!
- Rooting: This is when your baby will move their head side to side with an open mouth, looking for a nipple.
- When you see those beady eyes open with some wriggling around, that’s your baby telling you they’re hungry.
- Fussy crying is your baby getting impatient to eat.
- If you brush their cheek with your finger and they follow it to latch, that’s a hunger cue.
Step 2: Get baby into a breastfeeding position.
Your baby’s entire body should be straight and parallel to your breasts. In order to move the baby easier to your breast, you can use a nursing pillow or even a normal pillow.
Now that the baby is ready to nurse, you can try one of these breastfeeding positions that work best for you. They may sound complex but, don’t worry, you will get the hang of them with a couple of tries.
Cradle hold for breastfeeding
In this position, your baby’s head will be resting in the bend of your elbow, with your other arm supporting their little body.
Baby’s nose and mouth will be touching your breast, so you can use your index finger to guide them to latch.
Football hold for breastfeeding
This position is great if you have large breasts, have a c-section or a set of twins! In this position you will be holding your baby like you would a football.
Make sure your baby’s legs are tucked under your arm that is on the same side of the breast you will use to nurse. You can use a pillow and the same hand to support the baby,
Laid back position aka biological nursing for breastfeeding
This position works great for mothers who have small breasts, and for babies who get gassy after feeding.
You will have to lean back on the couch or bed, making sure you are well supported. You will then hold the baby in such a way that their tummy is on your tummy, and their head is near your breast.
For the latching you can direct the nipple to baby’s mouth. This position can be quite relaxing and is good if you have any back pains.
Step 3: Entice baby to nurse
There are a couple of things you can do to encourage baby to nurse as soon as they latch on. Making sure they get an immediate reward for latching on is one of them.
- You can hand express right before the baby latches on so they get their food instantly.
- You can drop some breastmilk or some formula milk on your nipple, and also on your baby’s upper lip as they have latched on. This way the baby won’t get annoyed if they have to wait for the let down.
Step 4: Encourage a good latch
A good latch can save you from so much trouble, and not to mention, nipple soreness. It also makes sure that your baby is getting the food they need.
Here are some things you can do that will encourage the baby to latch on properly.
- You need to work with a baby that is calm and relaxed so that they won’t get agitated too quickly if you need to try a couple of times to latch. It is important for mom to keep her cool too.
- Nursing in the right position can be a game changer! So from the positions that we have mentioned in this breastfeeding guide, try one that works for you and your baby best.
- Your baby is going to be hungry ALL the time, so it is important to be as comfortable as possible when you are breastfeeding. If you have to change positions constantly because you aren’t comfortable, baby will latch off.
- Break the latch with your finger if baby is sucking just on the nipple because it will not be good for you. Try again by touching baby’s upper lip so that they have a wide mouth open and your nipple is aimed towards the roof of their mouth
Is a Feeding Pillow Really Necessary for Breastfeeding?
A feeding or nursing pillow is not something that you won’t be able to breastfeed without. With that being said, you will need a lot of pillows to prop yourself up or your baby as you are nursing. Some mothers have said that the breastfeeding pillow equals 6 pillows!
Feeding pillows also make it easier to position your baby, and when they start getting bigger they also get heavier so you won’t have to hold all the weight in your arms.
C-section mommies have also sought a lot of comfort in nursing pillows because it allows them to sit or lay comfortably while breastfeeding.
With some type of pillows, like the Boppy , you can have your baby sleep up against you without having to hold them the whole time.
You should also have in mind that you will be breastfeeding for some time after the baby arrives, and a nursing pillow will not only make things easier, but will also save you the time of setting up and adjusting regular pillows.
How to Use a Feeding Pillow for Breastfeeding
Feeding pillows are different from regular pillows because they come in a U-shape design. Here are some ways how you can use a feeding pillow:
- You can put the feeding pillow around your waist in such a way that you can have the baby as close to your breast as possible.
- Rest baby’s head on the pillow in a way that they can latch on with minimal effort.
- Feeding pillows tend to have changeable covers so that you can always chuck them in the machine in case of any spit ups.
Uses of a Feeding Pillow
After you have successfully nursed your baby using the feeding pillow, you can explore its other uses.
- It is great for back support even during pregnancy. You no longer have to worry about stacking 10 pillows just to find that sweet spot that is comfortable.
- The feeding pillow can help prevent any neck straining in case you are not in the right feeding position.
- After a c-section, it is crucial that the stitches heal without any pressure or friction and a feeding pillow will allow that.
- In case of breastfeeding twins, it will be easier with a nursing pillow as you can nurse both babies comfortably.
- The pillow can be used to teach babies how to sit when they grow older.
Baby Breastfeeding Chair
According to some parents, baby breastfeeding chairs are a must-have! This is mainly because mothers spend a good chunk of their time nursing their babies, it makes perfect sense to invest in something that will allow mom and baby to be comfortable.
If you are unsure about getting a baby breastfeeding chair, you should consider these benefits that will come with it that will help you decide better.
“Do I Need a Nursing Chair?” – Benefits of a Breastfeeding Chair
- You will be spending a LOT of time nursing your baby. Doesn’t it make sense for you to be comfortable while you’re at it? That’s what we thought.
- If you’re not considering breastfeeding your baby, you will still need to feed your baby, and having a nursing chair will be ideal for it.
- A nursing chair is perfect for rocking baby to sleep, which also something you (and dad, and other family members) will be doing a lot.
- It will be a great spot for you to use to read or sing your baby to sleep as they grow older.
Tips for Choosing a Nursing Chair for First Timers Who Are Breastfeeding
There are so many choices and things to consider when it comes to choosing a nursing chair, which can make the whole process a bit complicated.
Firstly, you need to decide on a chair that suits the style you like, and more importantly, if it meets your budget.
After that, go through these criteria and see if it checks all the boxes.
This is perhaps the most important reason as to why you are even considering getting a nursing chair. Before you buy, sit in it. Try moving around and getting up with a make believe baby (or an actual baby) in your arms.
If you can do all of that without any struggle, congratulations, you have met the most important requirement.
2. Does it allow you to breastfeed?
The second most important reason why you will be getting the chair in the first place is because you will be spending a lot of time feeding your baby.
The chair should have padded armrests so you don’t have to hold all the weight of your baby. (They’ll start getting heavy pretty quickly)
Having a footrest will be great because it will relieve pressure off your lower back. Breastfeeding can be quite hard on the back, and it is important to take any kind of measure to prevent serious back pains.
3. It needs to be spit-up friendly!
Breastfeeding babies, or feeding in general, can get quite messy at times. This is why you need to look out for fabrics that are a breeze to clean. Microfiber or leather is great in this regard.
4. Can it withstand the test of time?
Even if your little one may not need to be breastfed forever, that still doesn’t mean your chair should give up after a couple of years.
The breastfeeding chair will have a lot of use later on even when your baby turns in to a teenager, meaning it needs to be durable.
This is why you should also consider getting a design that will look good anywhere and not just in a nursery.
How Often Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
When it comes to how often should I baby be fed or breastfed, there are two opinions about this:
- Feeding when the baby is showing signs of hunger
- Feeding on a schedule.
This is something that you should consult with your pediatrician, but you should also trust your motherly instincts when it comes to breastfeeding.
Most doctors recommend having a balance of the two, ie, feeding on demand but also trying to feed every 2-3 hours. This is essentially because babies grow really fast, and they need nourishment.
The logic for having a schedule is because babies have unpredictable digestive systems, which also varies on a day-to-day basis.
Breastfeeding Patterns and Schedules
Every baby will have their own schedule, and needs, so this is something that your baby’s pediatrician and you , as a mothe r , will know best . We will highlight the most common patterns that babies adhere to:
- The most common pattern that is recommended by doctors is to feed newborn babies every 2 to 3 hours during the day, and 3 to 4 hours during the night.
- Doctors recommend this schedule because it will not only give the nourishment a growing baby needs but it will also help you with your own supply of milk.
- If you feel like the baby’s feeding pattern is changing constantly, you can hand express or use a pump to keep the supply going.
- If baby doesn’t wake up for feed during the night, you can try gently tickling their feet or undressing them so they get their nightly dose of milk.
Can You Breastfeed on Schedule?
Your baby demanding milk = your body supplying the milk.
This is essentially why doctors recommend a schedule so that you have an adequate supply of milk, especially in the first couple of weeks when you should feed your baby every 2-3 hours.
And with a schedule in place, your baby should be getting around 8-12 feedings during the day and throughout the night.
However, your baby will most definitely get hungry on a random time during the day as well, and you should always feed the baby if they are showing the classic signs of hunger.
A schedule does not mean that you can’t be flexible. It is merely an outline to guide you through the day. Your motherly instincts will tell you when it is time for the baby to be fed.
Don’t worry, if you feel like you have fallen off track because you can always get back on the breastfeeding schedule.
How to Tell if Your Baby is Hungry?
- Some mothers complain that their baby latches on to everything, and are always sucking on fingers or toys. If this is the case with your baby, you can try nursing on schedule.
- If your baby is getting fussy, and is crying, that’s probably because they are hungry.
- If your baby is gaining weight normally, then nursing on demand will work as well.
Should You Wait Until Your Baby Cries to Breastfeed?
No, you should not. According to doctors, crying is a late sign of hunger, and it leads to the baby being distressed because of which they may not latch.
The best you can do is keep an eye on the last time the baby has been fed, so you don’t have to wait for them to cry to know they’re hungry.
Your baby will give you plenty of signs during the day if they are hungry, which we have mentioned above in this comprehensive guide about breastfeeding.
However, the real question is when to feed them at night?
Babies tend to be loud sleepers, so they’re grunts and restless movements may seem like they’re about to wake up for a midnight snack.
Depending on what type of schedule you are on, you can wake baby up after they grunt or are slightly restless. After waking them up, they may either go back to sleep, and it is ok to let them.
Other times, you can gently wake them up, by talking to them and changing their diapers and then nurse them. This is better than waiting for them to cry because then, they are really agitated and won’t latch on properly.
If a baby is crying in the middle of the night, wait for a minute or two and they might go back to sleep again.
Breastfeeding Duration for Babies
Newborns can take around 20-30 minutes to nurse. This is because they are figuring the whole process out, it is very new to them.
But as babies get older, they take less and less time, and they should finish nursing in 5-10 minutes.
The duration of feeding also depends on other things, such as:
- Your milk supply. This will fluctuate, and it may take a while to come in the first week.
- The amount of time it takes to let down, which is when milk flows from the nipple. It may take a few minutes after latching, or it can happen right away.
- The flow of your milk.
- Whether or not the baby has a good latch, meaning they should take in most of your areola.
- How quickly your baby is swallowing, and if they are sleepy.
How Do I Know My Baby is Full while Breastfeeding?
Just like you know when your baby is hungry with the signals they give you, you will also know when they are full. Here are some signs that will let you know when your baby is full:
- Your baby will no longer be restless and fussy. They will be much calmer after the feed, and might even slip into a dreamy sleep.
- As the baby is beginning to get full, they will slow down with the suckling.
- They will let go of the breast. If they fall asleep with the nipple still in their mouth, you can slip a finger in their mouth gently and break the suction.
- Your baby will be more relaxed, and you will be able to sense this with their posture and fists uncurling.
Are You Supposed to Wake your Baby to Feed?
Who would want to wake up a peaceful slumbering angel? And if you think of the time they will take to go back to sleep… .it’s almost a crime to wake them up!
While it may seem like a bad idea to wake baby up when they are dreaming away, it is for a newborn to get their dose of feed and for you to keep your supply sufficient.
Here are some reasons as to why you should wake baby up for their feed:
- Quick digestion + tiny tummies = tummy getting empty very frequently. Breast milk, compared to formula, digests quicker as well.
- They might sleep through a hungry stomach. Babies are super sleepy in their first couple of weeks, so you might miss out on those hunger cues we talked about earlier.
- They need to be gaining weight. This is why it is extremely important for them to take their feed, even if it means waking them up for it.
- If you are breastfeeding, then you need to keep your supply going. In the first couple of weeks, your supply will go down if you are not feeding enough. This is because your body is establishing a demand-supply system at this point.
Newborn Nursing Non Stop – Is this Normal?
A newborn feeding non stop is known as cluster feeding. This is completely normal during the baby’s first week.
It may feel like your baby is on the breast all the time but this is what they are supposed to do. This is also going to help immensely with your supply.
You need to power through these cluster feeding days and make yourself as comfortable as possible. Have things like a tv show, or a book and some snacks ready. Make sure you are also keeping yourself hydrated because your baby will be downing approximately a liter of milk
It will get easier! This is the learning process for both of you, but it does get better.
Frequency of Breastfeeding by Age
The frequency of breastfeeding will differ from baby to baby. There is no set schedule that applies to every baby in the world because the frequency of breastfeeding will depend on your baby’s needs.
What we will highlight in this section of the breastfeeding guide is simply a rough outline to guide you through the entire process.
1. Breastfeeding Frequency in the First 24 Hours After Birth
- Breastfeeding should start right after birth if possible, which is why doctors recommend skin-to-skin contact after birth because it allows the baby to seek your breast.
- The first amounts of colostrum babies receive are crucial to their digestive system because it acts as a laxative and also strengthens the immune system.
- In the first couple of days of breastfeeding, your body will be making more colostrum, after which it will transition to milk as your baby will be eating more and more.
2.Breastfeeding Frequency in the First Week After Birth
- In the first week, your baby will want to eat a lot. The feeding sessions will be as frequent as every 1 to 3 hours, which should add up to around 12 sessions.
- Even if the baby is sleeping, you may need to wake them up for their scheduled feed.
- The higher frequency of breastfeeding is crucial at this point, because the baby needs to gain weight in order to have a healthy bone development .
- It is also important for the mother that the baby feeds as much as possible because that will help with the supply of milk.
- Waking up the baby for their scheduled feed can be difficult, but you can try stroking or undressing them gently so they don’t abruptly wake from sleep.
3.Breastfeeding Frequency from the Second Week to 2 Months
- As the baby grows older, their bellies will also grow with them meaning they will be able to consume more milk in each feed.
- This is why the interval between the feeding session will be longer, going up to 4 to 5 hours.
- However, this is not a hard and fast rule that applies to all babies, you may notice your baby showing signs of hunger and it is ok to feed them on demand as well.
4. Breastfeeding Frequency Between 6 Months and 12 Months
- As the baby turns six months, they will start eating solid foods along with the breastfeeding.
- Solid foods such as mashed and pureed fruits and veggies, soup, etc., should be incorporated into baby’s diet at this point.
- When it comes to breastfeeding, baby should still be nursed on demand, but the frequency of breastfeeding sessions will drop down to 4 to 6.
How to Know if Your Baby is Getting Enough Breast Milk?
Regardless of all those feeding sessions, it sometimes may not be clear if your baby is getting enough breast milk.
- Your baby is gaining weight at a steady and healthy pace.
- Your baby is pooping more than once a day, and the poop should be dark yellow in color. They should be peeing around 8-9 times in a day.
- After nursing, they should be playful which is an indicator that their tummy is nice and full.
- Your breasts should feel lighter and softer after nursing.
Breastfeeding positions for a First Time Mom
Certain positions can really improve the breastfeeding experience by making it more comfortable.
Since you will be breastfeeding for some time after the baby is born, it is good to know about positions that will be good for both you and your baby.
We have mentioned some positions above in the guide, and here we will talk about some specific ones that can be helpful for common problems.
Breastfeeding Positions for Reflux Babies
Spit ups are quite common when breastfeeding babies. The reflux occurs because the food backs up from the baby’s stomach which causes them to throw up.
In order to prevent this, you can try these positions:
Koala Hold for Breastfeeding
In this position, the baby will have their spine and head upright as they are feeding.Your baby will sit straddling your thigh.
With a newborn, you will need to make sure that there is a ton of support. However, make sure you are not holding your baby’s head firmly because this will make it hard for them to feed.
Since the baby will be sitting upright, gravity will ease the digestion process.
Laid Back Position for Breastfeeding
Reflux can also be the cause of a fast let down, which means that the baby will take in too much milk in a short amount of time.
The laid back position will prevent an overflow of milk which will be easier to manage for the baby.
In this position, you are belly to belly with the baby and their mouth should be close to your breast which will enable an easy latch.
Other tips that will help prevent a reflux include:
- Shorter and more frequent feeding sessions.
- Making sure the baby’s abdomen isn’t bent , so there is not too much pressure on the tummy.
- Making sure to burp the baby after feeding so the tummy releases any excess gas .
Breastfeeding Positions to Help with Gas
Gassiness is a very common problem in babies. One reason for it could be mom’s diet . You may be eating certain foods that don’t sit well with the baby.
Another reason is that the baby is taking in a lot of air during the feedings.
This can also be prevented with the laid back and koala positions we mentioned above, because the flow of the milk can be controlled better this way.
Breastfeeding Positions After C-Section
Breastfeeding with a c-section can be difficult to get the hang of. You have to make sure that the baby is as far away from the wounds and stitches as possible, but you also need to ensure a good latch.
While this may sound complicated to do, with the right position it will be a breeze!
Here are some position you can try after a c-section:
In this position, you should lay on your side with the baby on their side too. The baby should be positioned in such a way that they are close to you and their mouth is close to the breast.
This position will prevent any contact with the surgical site, and is also great for a proper latch!
For this position, you will need to sit upright. Place a pillow on the side where you will be breastfeeding from.
Place the baby on the pillow in such a way that their feet should be pointing back, and their head should be close to your breast.
Adjust the baby and pillow, so they are as close to your breast as possible.
This position ensures that there is no strain being put on stitches.
Breastfeeding Positions for Larger Babies
Babies will get heavier and larger as they grow older. It may seem like you can handle a small baby right now as you are breastfeeding, but it will get difficult as days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months.
If you are planning to breastfeed your baby till they turn a certain age, you have to try positions that ensure you don’t hold all their weight in your arms.
In this position, you either need to be sitting on a sofa or on the bed, with a pillow on the side where you will be breastfeeding from.
You will place the baby on the pillow in such a way that their legs are facing the back, and their head is close to your breast. It will look similar to how you would hold a rugby or football.
This way, all their weight will be on the pillow and you can nurse away comfortably regardless of how chubby and tall they get.
The koala hold is quite popular with older babies who require little assistance with sitting and keeping their head up.
In this position you will make your baby sit on your lap, (or on a pillow that is on your lap), with their legs straddling your waist.
Make sure they can easily reach your breast to latch on, and you can nurse away.
This position will also ensure minimal spit ups, and quick digestion of the feed.
Breastfeeding Positions for Larger Breasts
Naturally large breasts coupled with engorgement can make it difficult to breastfeed baby.
Most moms with big breasts swear by breastfeeding pillows because you don’t have to worry about propping your breasts up.
The pillow will allow you to have both your hands free so you can position the baby and also hold your breast if required for nursing.
You don’t have to worry about the baby’s nose getting blocked in case your breast is pressing against their nose, because their noses are suited for breastfeeding.
Side Lying Position
In this position, you can nurse your baby as you are laying down.
You will simply put the baby on your side, so you are both facing each other. Your baby will be leveled to your breast.
This position is great for moms with larger breasts because you will have your hands free to prop your breast up for a better latch.
The best thing about this position with large breasts is that you won’t have to move to the other side when you want to change breasts.
Since you will be laying down, your back won’t get strained as well as you are nursing.
Tips for New Breastfeeding Mothers: Best Breastfeeding Advice You Can Get
Breastfeeding can be a challenging process for a new mother. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes it doesn’t come “naturally”, and you really have to figure your way through it.
However, making sure you are mentally prepared for what’s to come is essentially half the journey covered.
Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of tips that are tried and tested from moms themselves that will surely help you out with your breastfeeding process!
- It is not likely that you won’t be able to nurse at all. Even if you may feel like that at times. Know that it is a learned skill and you can’t become a professional at it without having actually breastfed.
- Your nurses and doctors will give you a lot of information and tips but, do yourself a favor, and book an appointment with a lactation consultant . You can do this before your baby arrives too so you are better prepared.
- Read up and watch as many videos as you can on breastfeeding and latching . Look at all the positions so you have a good idea of what to expect.
- The first couple of weeks will be difficult, but it does get easier . This is because both you and your baby will be learning in the beginning. Newborns are also floppy but they eventually become more stiff as they get older and gain control.
- Because babies are so sleepy in the first week, you will have to wake them up to make sure they get their feeding. The best way to do this is undress them, and have some skin to skin contact so they are not startled when they wake up.
- You can learn to hand express , even if it is a couple of drops of milk. This will save you a lot of discomfort for when you are engorged. And it will also let you know that you have milk when the baby is being fussy.
- If you are using a pump, don’t worry if you can only pump an ounce or two. Managing to get 2 to 4 ounces of milk during the feeding sessions is good enough. However, if you are having supply issues, it is best to speak to a lactation consultant.
- Formula is a great alternative and you don’t have to feel guilty in any way for resorting to it. There is also nothing wrong with using formula and nursing together at the same time.
- Have some high protein snacks and a water bottle close to you when you are nursing. It is important to keep yourself hydrated no matter how annoying the bathroom trips will be.
- Ask for help ! If you feel like you are struggling, you have a lot of resources at your disposal. Join a support group with other moms who are going through the same thing, and it will be of immense help.
What’s better: Breastfeeding or Formula?
Breastfeeding is considering the ultimate test of motherhood in society. However, it is a reality that a lot of moms struggle to breastfeed. It can be mentally and physically strenuous for the mom.
At the end of the day, it depends on the mother and her baby to decide what feeding choice is best for them. They can decide on just breast milk, or just formula or a combination of both.
If you are a mother who is exploring both feeding options and what they entail, we will highlight the pros and cons in this comprehensive breastfeeding guide for you to decide:
Pros of Breastfeeding
- It is the natural way to feed your baby. Your body is designed to produce milk for your baby which is why it contains a lot of nutrients that are great for an infant. It contains sleep regulating and gut balancing properties that may not be replicated by formula.
- Breast milk strengthens the baby’s immune system, which means they are less prone to getting sick.
- It decreases chances of breast and ovarian cancer for the mom.
- In terms of traveling, breastfeeding is more convenient because you won’t have to worry about packing a huge diaper bag, with bottles, water, formula, etc.
- Breastfeeding doesn’t require any preparation, apart from getting into a comfortable position with your baby. You don’t have to worry about washing bottles, warming up water, and measuring the formula multiple times in a day.
- It is economical in terms of cost, because breast milk is practically free.
Cons of Breastfeeding
- It may be challenging. Some mothers may go through physical discomfort such as sore nipples and breasts, neck pain, and back pain which can be hard on them.
- There can be latching problems which can be frustrating for both mom and baby. It can also result in baby not getting their required dose of feed which can cause further problems.
- It can be pressurizing to have the sole responsibility of feeding the baby. Newborns have to follow a strict schedule of feeding, which means mothers have to constantly make sure their milk supply is meeting baby’s demand. This will also involve pumping and storing milk in order to regulate the supply.
- Moms have to be careful with their diet, because what you eat also ends up in the baby’s system. This also means that any intake of medication such as pain killers could also be problematic.
Pros of Bottle / Formula Feeding
- Formula is a great alternative to breast milk. It contains all the nutritional value that a baby needs for growth and development.
- Feeding will not be the sole responsibility of the mother. You can ask your partner, or other family members to help you with feeding. This means mom gets more time to relax, and more importantly, sleep.
- Mothers have said formula feeding is a lot quicker than bottle feeding. Babies also don’t get as hungry frequently because the formula takes a while to digest. This essentially means that the feedings are more paced out, and mom gets more time for herself.
- You will be aware of how much formula baby is consuming. This is good if you want to keep track of how much weight they are gaining.
- Mothers don’t have to worry about demand/supply for milk production, because there will always be enough formula.
- If you are a working mother, you don’t have to worry about pumping and storing milk before you go to work.
- Moms don’t have to see feeding as a “burden” which is extremely relieving and has a positive effect on their mental health. For mothers going through postpartum depression, every bit of help matters.
Cons of Bottle/Formula Feeding
- Formula may not provide baby the natural antibodies they need to counter illnesses.
- It can be time consuming to wash bottles, prepare the bottle, etc. It may not be convenient when you are traveling.
- Formula feeding can add up to a lot in terms of cost. You have to account for bottles, rubber nipples and the formula itself.
- Mothers may not feel the bond with their child, as they would with breastfeeding.
Challenges with Breastfeeding: The Bad and the Ugly
Breastfeeding is hard. Post birth, in general, can be a very vulnerable time for new mothers and breastfeeding can be an added stress on top of that.
One of the main reasons as to why new mothers may find it challenging is because they might not know what to expect. Mothers may be under the impression that breastfeeding is second nature, and the baby will just latch on to the breast without any effort.
It is important for new mothers to know exactly what to expect, which also includes the challenges they might face so they are mentally prepared.
With that being said, it is only hard in the beginning but it does get easier after you get the hang of it.
1. Milk Coming in Late
Sometimes the milk doesn’t come in right away after birth, which will involve a lot of pumping to regulate the supply.
Some mothers might have actual supply issues, and it is important to consult a lactation specialist for these cases.
2.Tongue Tied Babies
Babies that have tied tongues have difficulty latching on because their tongues are too short. This is something your lactation consultant will point out.
Tied tongues can be a major challenge for the baby to breastfeed, and they may need a small surgery to fix it.
3.Low Milk Supply
While most mothers are able to produce enough milk to meet the demands of their babies, there are some mothers who may not be able to do this.
If this is the case for you, there is nothing wrong with using formula along with breastfeeding in order to meet baby’s nourishment needs.
4. Cracked and Sore Nipples
This can be a serious problem if the baby does not latch properly during feedings. Certain breastfeeding positions and nipple shields can help this.
Cluster feeding can also cause nipples to get sore, because the baby will want to feed frequently and your nipples won’t get time to heal.
Sore nipples are common, however, if you notice any bleeding then you should consult your doctor immediately.
5. Poor Latch
A poor latch can be a problem for both mom and baby. The baby will not be able to suckle properly, and hence, not get the required dose of feed. And for the mom, a poor latch can lead to sore nipples.
This is a common problem with babies because they may not open their mouth wide enough, which is why you may need the help of a lactation consultant to show you what a proper latch is.
6. Breast Engorgement
Breast engorgement happens when your body over produces milk. This can result in breasts being huge, swollen and hard to the touch which can be very uncomfortable for the mom.
Pumping and hand expressing can help relieve this. You also have to make sure to feed the baby frequently in order to avoid this.
Mothers have also said hand expressing in a warm shower helps prevent engorgement.
7.Blocked Milk Ducts in Breast
When milk ducts get clogged, the breast may develop lumps around the areola. This can potentially hurt a lot, and make breastfeeding difficult.
Heat is the best way to unplug the milk ducts. Taking a hot shower and gently massaging the lump should make it go away.
If blocked milk ducts don’t unplug, you could be at risk of developing a breast infection called mastitis.
The symptoms are similar to the flu, so it is not serious. However, it is best to not reach this stage because it can be very draining for the mother.
Stress can be detrimental for breastfeeding because it can cause the body to stop making milk, or lower the milk supply.
New mothers can be overwhelmed, and coupled with PPD (Postpartum Depression), the stress might not be something they can help but go through.
However, a little extra help can really ease things up for the mom, and the most important thing to remember in this situation is to take small steps and that you are doing great!
Breastfeeding Troubleshooting Guide: Problems and Solutions
Problem # 1: Baby Latching Painful
A very common problem that mothers face is painful latching. This happens when the baby doesn’t open wide to take as much breast tissue as they can.
It is also something that happens in the first couple of weeks because the baby’s mouth is too small to latch on, but gets better as the baby grows older.
The pain can be excruciating at times, making breastfeeding very difficult.
- Nipple shields can be very helpful with latching and also provide protection for the nipples.
- Your baby may have a lip/tongue tie which prevents them from latching on properly. This is something you should discuss with a doctor or lactation consultant. It is not a major issue, lots of babies are diagnosed with it.
- Nipple creams, like lanolin, can also help soothe the pain and help accelerate the healing process.
- Breaking the latch and trying again is something that is recommended even if you have to do it multiple times.
- Pumping and formula feeding instead of exclusively breastfeeding are options if the latching problem persists.
- The latching pain is also something that does get better as you keep breastfeeding. Remember, breastfeeding has a learning curve and it is an acquired skill. Both you and your little one will become better at it.
Problem # 2: Cracked Nipples
If the latching problem persists, it can lead to nipples cracking and bleeding. This is something that you need to tell your doctor right away.
However, for immediate relief of pain, here are some things you can try:
- Stop breastfeeding from the affected breast till your nipple heals. You can either pump or formula feed in the meanwhile.
- Air your breast out as much as you can to accelerate the healing process.
- Use nipple creams like lanolin and APNO (all-purpose nipple ointment) generously.
- Wash your breast with a saline solution (salt and water), and let some breast milk dry on the nipple.
- Rub Vitamin E oil on the nipples and let it air out.
- Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician or a lactation consultant, and talk about your other options if the problem persists.
Problem # 3: Breast Engorgement
Breast engorgement happens when your body produces milk in a surplus. This can lead to the breasts feeling hard, warm and painful.
This is a normal thing that happens, especially in the first couple of weeks of nursing because the body is figuring out how much it should produce milk to meet baby’s demands.
- Taking a hot shower and massaging the breasts will relieve the pain.
- Hand expressing to relieve some of the built up pressure, but make sure you do it till the breast feels a little soft not till it feels empty.
- Don’t pump at this point, because that will signal your body to make more milk.
- Breastfeeding more frequently helps prevent engorgement.
Problem # 4: Clogged Ducts
Clogged ducts come in the form of lumps in the breast. This is a very common problem that arises with breastfeeding, and it happens when a milk duct gets blocked which prevents the flow of milk.
- Manual expressing and massaging in the shower. Just like the breast engorgement, this will help unplug the milk duct as well.
- You can try using a vibrating toothbrush, or anything else that vibrates, and this will help break up the clog.
- Submerge your breasts in a large bowl of warm water and hand express.
- Trying the above mentioned solutions, along with breastfeeding from the affected side frequently will help clear up the blocked duct.
- If clogged milk ducts are a recurring problem, you can try taking lecithin supplements that are available over the counter. They emulsify fat which enables the clogs to break down.
- You can try “dangle feeding” the baby. This is when you lay the baby on the bed, and you get on your hands and knees, hovered over the baby to feed them. The gravity will help the milk flow better, unclogging the duct.
Problem # 5: Mastitis
Mastitis occurs when the breast tissues get inflamed due to clogged milk ducts, which could also result in an infection. The symptoms of mastitis are low grade fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and painful breasts.
- If you have mastitis, you will need to get on an antibiotics course after consulting with your doctor.
- If you can, you should nurse as much as possible, or pump if baby is not nursing.
- Take hot showers, and massage your breast to break the clog.
- Take plenty of rest and drink water.
- Hydration and breast emptying is the best way to treat mastitis. It will take a couple of days to recover but you will eventually get there.
Problem # 6: Thrush
Thrush is a yeast infection of nipples that results in persistent pain. It most likely happens if the nipples are cracked, which makes them more prone to infections.
Thrush can also lodge in the baby’s mouth, and can appear as white spots around the mouth and tongue area. It may look like milk curds in their mouth but won’t come off when you try to wipe it with your finger.
Your baby may also get gassy and make a clicking sound when nursing.
- Consult your pediatrician right away if you feel sharp and persistent pain on your nipples after breastfeeding. Your baby might be prescribed drops of nystatin liquid on their tongue which will clear the thrush up.
- You should rinse your nipples with diluted vinegar water after each feed. This will help disinfect the nipples.
- Wash everything that comes in contact with breast milk with hot water, like shirts, burp cloths, bras, etc.
- If you are pumping, you should boil the pumps with some vinegar.
- Avoid having foods with yeast like bread. You should have lots of yogurt and green tea.
- Air out the breasts and try to get some sun on them.
- Even if one you have thrush, both mom and the baby should be treated for it regardless.
Problem #7: Low Milk Supply
Some mothers struggle with a low milk supply when breastfeeding. This is something that is stigmatized a lot by society, when it is quite a common problem.
It does not mean in any way that the mother is incompetent or insufficient. Low milk supply can lead to mothers feeling stressed which further impacts the milk supply – it can turn into a vicious cycle.
- Formula combined with the breast milk you can produce is the best of both worlds. Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to only one option. This way your baby will get the nutrition they need, and you will also get to breastfeed.
- Oats help with increasing milk supply. You can consume oats in different forms like oatmeal or oat cookies.
- Some mothers have said that pumping every 10-15 minutes has helped increase their supply.
- Some mothers swear by fenugreek. You can try taking fenugreek in the form of tablets.
- Also remember, pumping isn’t a good measure to see how much you are making. You may be making enough to meet your baby’s needs. You can do a wet diaper count, and see how much baby is pooping in a day. If their output is enough, then you don’t have anything to worry about.
- Drinking water is extremely important, keep yourself hydrated at all times.
Problem # 8: Baby Sleeping at the Breast
A common problem that breastfeeding mothers face in the first weeks is the baby falling asleep while nursing. It is a normal thing because babies are very sleepy in the beginning, and they find comfort being near the breast.
But as baby grows older, you will notice that they won’t do it as often.
- If baby is sleeping, you can change their diaper before the feed and that should help them to stay awake for a while.
- During the nursing session, you can stroke their ears and cheek, tickle their feet and talk to them gently so they stay awake.
- Some mothers have said they undress their baby and change their diaper if they fall asleep during breastfeeding, which also wakes them up.
- You can gently scratch their ears and cheek. Make sure it’s nothing rhythmic, because that will be soothing for them.
Problem #9: Inverted Nipples
Inverted nipples are very common amongst women, and it is when the nipple doesn’t protrude from the areola but are instead pulled inwards .
Breastfeeding is completely possible with inverted nipples, and it is not something to feel anxious about.
To make yourself feel better, you can go to a lactation consultant, and they will let you know how you will be able to breastfeed with inverted nipples.
- Using a nipple shield has helped lots of mothers with inverted nipples. It enables their baby to latch on immediately, and draw the milk effectively. However, with a nipple shield make sure you get one that is the right size for you.
- Before you begin breastfeeding with the nipple shield, you should express some colostrum into the shield. This will help with a more effective latch.
- Pinch the areola before you offer the breast so that baby gets as much of the breast tissue as possible.
- For some mothers, pumping helps the nipple to pop out from the areola.
- There are nipple everters available, that help draw out flat or inverted nipples.
Problem # 10: Painful Let Down
Mothers can sometimes feel a painful or burning sensation during let down. and most of the time it is not a sign of something being wrong.
You can, however, speak to a doctor if you want to rule out any chances.
- You can hand express some milk before you begin to breastfeed.
- You can try breastfeeding positions that work against gravity.
- Your breasts may be engorged, which is causing the let down to be painful. Hand expressing a little will also help with this. Or you can try putting cold cabbage leaves which will soothe the pain.
Can Breastfeeding Make You Lose Weight?
Breastfeeding can help you lose weight. This is because you are using stored fat cells and calories when you breastfeed, and when your body works to supply the milk your baby needs.
Mothers burn up to 500 calories in a day when they breastfeed. This gives a chance for mothers to lose the weight they accumulated during their pregnancy.
Not Losing Baby Weight While Breastfeeding
While it is common knowledge that mothers tend to lose weight during breastfeeding, it is also important to remember that this varies from person to person.
If one mother is losing weight because of breastfeeding, it does not mean that the next mother will also experience the same thing. Just like pregnancy differs from person to person, the same applies for weight loss.
It is not wise for women to look at breastfeeding as a weight loss tool.
Healthy Ways to Lose Weight While Breastfeeding
Since you will be a main source of nourishment for your baby, it is important that you stay healthy so that your body can continue to provide food for your baby.
Mothers gain a lot of weight during pregnancy and it is okay to lose the extra weight, but you should do it in a way that does not impact your supply.
Remember, you are still eating for two. Here are some healthy ways to lose weight while breastfeeding:
Keto Diet For Breastfeeding Moms
Mothers have seen great results by trying a keto diet that doesn’t impact their milk supply but also helps them lose weight.
Keto diets require a deficit of calories in order to be effective, and since breastfeeding requires up to 500 calories, and each ounce being 20 calories – that right there will be your deficit.
However, since every person is different and you feel like your supply is getting affected by the Keto diet, you can try adjusting the calories you’re consuming.
Make sure to keep yourself hydrated and have extra electrolytes. This should help with the supply.
Eat your Greens!
Vegetables and fruits will be your best friend throughout the weight loss process. Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables in all your meals and snacks.
You have to make sure to cut back on your carbs as well, such as junk food and bread, if you intend on losing weight.
Along with the weight loss, you will also notice healthier hair and skin.
Stay Low on Quantity but High in Quality
Incorporating high quality foods, such as foods that are rich in protein and fiber, high in healthy fats will help you lose that extra weight, without compromising your supply.
Foods like l ean beef, spinach, lentils, beans and lots of vegetables should be incorporated into your diet.
The most important thing to do is to keep track of how many calories you intake. You can do this with apps like MyFitnessPal.
Exercise for Breastfeeding Mom
Once you have recovered after birth and adjusted to the new lifestyle with your baby, you should begin exercising. Don’t worry, you can always start small!
Try brisk walking with your baby , or a light morning jog before you start your day. Light exercising won’t be as intense, and you will feel so much better in general after doing it.
Sometimes, moms get stuck in a rut with their baby and exercise is a great way to break that.
Along with a healthy diet, physical fitness will help you shed the extra weight. It will also keep the supply regulated, so you don’t have to worry about a decrease in your milk supply.
Staying Hydrated While Breastfeeding
If you are planning to lose weight by cutting back on calories, having a healthy diet, etc., it is super important for you to stay hydrated throughout.
Your milk supply is affected by how much you drink water, so as long as you keep that in control, you should be fine.
What Foods to Eat When Breastfeeding
As the saying goes “you, and your baby are what you eat!”
Okay, we may have made some slight changes to that quote but it still holds.
You want to make sure you are eating the right foods so that both you and your baby are healthy as ever when you are breastfeeding.
In addition to that, the food that you consume will also affect your supply. So you also want to make sure you consume things that help with milk production and not lower it.
Foods that you should definitely be eating
Essentially the best foods for breastfeeding are the same as for the other person, iehealthy, balanced and filling!
You want to eat foods that are rich in protein, fat and fiber.
- Greens like spinach, carrots, avocados
- Seafood, lean meats and red meats
- black beans
Galactagogue Foods that Stimulate Milk Production
Here are some foods that you should be eating in order to stimulate milk production:
- Oatmeal with flax seeds. These ingredients are common in lactation cookies as well because they are known to help with milk production.
- Peanut butter
- Spinach salads
- Avocados (Foods high in fat stimulate milk production)
- Seaweed (Great excuse to have sushi)
Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding
There are not many foods to avoid when it comes to breastfeeding. As long as you don’t notice any differences in baby’s behavior, you can continue eating what you have been.
Mothers tend to avoid allergens like nuts, eggs and dairy products in case their baby might have an allergic reaction. But you can try eating these foods in small quantities and see if your baby gets fussy.
It is actually advised to consume allergens, as long as the mother is not allergic, so that the baby becomes more resilient.
If you notice foods like broccoli, onions or garlic are causing your baby to get gas, then you may want to avoid eating them.
Common irritants include:
- Cow’s milk
- Spicy Foods
However, you can always try having it first before discarding these foods out of your diet completely. Chances are, your baby will be fine!
Can you Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?
Just like other things alcohol can also make its way into breastmilk. But only a very small quantity will reach the breast milk, approximately 2% .
As long as you are drinking in moderation, you are okay to breastfeed without having to worry about harming your baby.
There is no reason to “pump and dump” your milk after having alcohol, which is widely suggested. You can continue to breastfeed after you feel neurologically okay.
Is it Safe to Take Ibuprofen When Breastfeeding?
Ibuprofen (advil, motril, proprinal) is a certified safe drug for mothers who are breastfeeding. The amounts that get into the breastmilk are not likely to harm the baby.
Breastfeeding mothers can take up to the daily maximum dose without having to worry about their baby being harmed.
If you want to be assured, you can always speak to your doctor or pediatrician about taking ibuprofen when breastfeeding.
Pain Relievers During Breastfeeding
You may feel the need to take pain relievers due to several reasons such as:
- Pain from nursing
- Post-birth pain, especially if you had a c-section
- Headaches and migraines
Pain relievers such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol are prescribed by doctors to nursing mothers quite frequently. This is because they are known to be safe for babies, and they relieve pain quickly.
Breast milk and Medications
Painkillers such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol do not affect the supply of breast milk.
For increasing milk production, there are no medications that will directly cause that.
However, there are medications that can increase the level of prolactin, which is the milk producing hormone.
These medicines, such as domperidone, need to be prescribed by doctors because they can cause certain side effects like depressions.
Breastfeeding Causing Headaches
Lactation headaches are common amongst breastfeeding mothers. The headaches or migraines are usually triggered by changes in the hormones, and can be quite draining for the mom.
Other triggers can include dehydration, exhaustion, changes in weather, fatigue and breast engorgement.
If you face headaches and migraines very frequently, then you can take migraine specific medications after consulting with your doctor.
The most common medication for lactation headaches are percocet and ibuprofen.
Other ways to avoid headaches is to keep yourself hydrated at all times, keeping some healthy snacks on hand when you are breastfeeding and emptying your breasts regularly.
Can you Take Antibiotics When Breastfeeding? Is it Safe for Baby?
Taking antibiotics while breastfeeding is very common because of mastitis, UTIs and postpartum infection.
The antibiotics that are prescribed by the doctor are safe for the baby. It is important to treat the infection first and foremost, which is why antibiotics are important.
As long as your doctor knows you are breastfeeding, you don’t have anything to worry about.
What Antibiotics are Safe While Breastfeeding?
It is important to always take antibiotics that are prescribed by your doctor. The antibiotics that are safe and usually prescribed are:
Side Effects of Antibiotics While Breastfeeding
The side effects that may be caused by antibiotics are not clinically significant. Mothers don’t need to worry about the antibiotics affecting their supply or breast milk. Here are some of the potential side effects:
- Your baby’s poop may be different. It may be greener and runner .
- Your baby might get colic like symptoms but it shouldn’t last for too long.
- Your baby’s gut might get affected, however, your breast milk will be quick in re-establishing the balance of the gut bacteria .
As long as your doctor knows that you are breastfeeding, you should not be too worried about taking the antibiotics. It is important that you stay healthy so your baby stays healthy.
Antibiotics and Thrush
Some mothers may be hesitant about taking antibiotics because that could lead to a potential development of thrush and yeast infections.
While this is not something that does not always happen, you can be cautious by reducing the consumption of sugar while you are on the antibiotics. This is because the yeast thrives in sugar.
It also thrives in moist areas which is why you should make it a point to air out your nipples after every feed.
You can ask your doctor about prescribing you a probiotic with the antibiotics if you are scared of developing thrush.
How Much Caffeine Can Breastfeeding Mothers Have?
If you drink coffee regularly, then it will be hard to ignore those caffeine cravings. Especially in the mornings ..
It makes sense if you are worried about the caffeine transferring to the breast milk, because whatever you eat goes to your baby’s stomach too.
However, many breastfeeding moms drink coffee in moderation and have not noticed any effects in their baby or their breast milk.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it is safe to consume up to 300 mg of coffee.
We need coffee to function sometimes, and 1-2 cups in a day is okay. If you feel like you need to be assured, you can talk to your pediatrician or lactation specialist.
Will Caffeine Affect Breast Milk?
According to research, 1% of the caffeine passes to the breast milk . However, this amount is not harmful to the baby.
As far as caffeine affecting the supply of breast milk goes, there is no research that suggests that caffeine leads to a lower supply.
Breastfeeding Costs: Is Breast Milk Actually Free?
One of the advantages of breastfeeding is the budget-friendliness of it.
While breast milk itself doesn’t cost anything, people forget about the additional things that breastfeeding requires that, sometimes, is not optional.
In this section of the comprehensive breastfeeding guide, we will cover the potential costs that you may incur if you are breastfeeding, and if you formula feed.
Financial Costs to Account for if You are Breastfeeding
Yes, it is established that breast milk is free. However, some mothers struggle with exclusively breastfeeding and require the support of additional things in order to nurse their babies.
Here are some of the things you will be needing to breastfeed:
In the US, breast pumps tend to be covered by insurance. So, before you purchase a breast pump, contact your insurance provider.
As far as the cost of the breast pump is concerned, you can get a manual one for anywhere between $ 20-80 . Most mothers are satisfied with manual pumps if they are not exclusively pumping.
Electric pumps, on the other hand, can range anywhere from $ 150 to $ 400 .
Nursing Bras and Nursing Pads
You won’t just be able to breastfeed in non-maternity bras, so nursing bras are something that you will be getting.
You can get a good nursing bra for anywhere between $20-30 . But you will be needing at least 3-4 on hand because breastfeeding can get messy.
Nursing pads are necessary for when you go out because breast milk can leak sometimes. You can get reusable ones for around $ 15 .
A nursing pillow is not a necessity, but considering how much time you will be spending breastfeeding – you will need to be comfortable.
Most mothers have experienced regular pillows leading to neck and back pains, which is why nursing pillows can become a necessity.
This will also be a one time cost of $ 30-40 .
Meeting with a lactation consultant is technically an optional expense.
But breastfeeding is not a smooth process for every mom, and they may need the help of a lactation consultant to figure things out.
The fee for lactation consultants can range between $ 150 to $ 350 on an hourly basis.
Milk Storage Bags
Breast milk storage bags will be an essential and recurring expense when you are pumping.
This is because your body will be making a lot of extra milk, and you will need somewhere to store it for later because your baby will not be hungry 24/7.
The best way to store milk is with milk storage bags, instead of bottles and containers, because they will store flat in the freezer without taking up space.
They are quite helpful for when mothers return back to work so they can ensure that their baby gets milk even if they are not home.
Since these milk storage bags are not reusable, you will be incurring a monthly cost of somewhere between $ 11-20 .
Breast Gel Soothies and Packs
Round the clock breastfeeding will sometimes chafe the nipples, and you will need breast gel soothies and packs to relieve the pain.
This will be a one time expense of $ 13 , since these gel packs are reusable.
Your nipples will go through a lot during breastfeeding, and you will need some type of ointments on hand to prevent chafing and soreness.
Depending how frequently you apply the creams, it can be a monthly expense of $ 8-13 .
Mothers sometimes may need supplements to help with their supply, such as milk thistle and fenugreek.
Along with that babies may need Vitamin D and probiotics to prevent any kind of infections like thrush.
These supplements easily add up to somewhere between $30-50.
Non-financial Costs of Breastfeeding That No one Talks About
Breastfeeding requires a lot of time and effort.
Mothers have to get used to different breastfeeding positions so that their baby latches effectively, in order for the milk to flow better, so that they don’t strain their back or neck and for lots of other reasons!
People forget that breastfeeding moms are the sole providers of the baby’s nutrition which is a huge responsibility on its own.
This stress stops them from doing things for themselves because they feel like they always need to be around the baby.
Pumping comes with a lot of extra work such as cleaning and sterilizing the bottles, storing and freezing the breast milk, which is also time consuming.
Breastfeeding can take a toll on mothers, physically and mentally, even if the financial costs are low.
How Much Does Formula Feeding Cost?
Recurring costs: Formula
The cost of formula feeding ultimately depends on what brand of formula you are using, and how frequently you go through it.
Most parents have seen an average monthly cost of $80-100 with formula feeding, using store brand formula.
Costco has its own brand, Kirkland, that is relatively inexpensive compared to other brands like Similac and Gerber Soothe which have an average monthly cost of $300-350.
Many parents are satisfied with store brand formula, such as Target’s Up & Up, saying their infants liked it just as well as the “name brand stuff”.
If your baby has any allergies, then you will need to use an allergy specific formula, like Novalac Allergy, that will be more expensive with an average monthly cost of $250-300.
If you want to feel comfortable with the formula you are feeding your baby, you can always schedule an appointment with your pediatrician and they will let you know what is best for your baby and your budget.
Non-Recurring Costs: Bottles and Nipples
Bottles for formula feeding will be a one time cost, because you will be cleaning and reusing them for at least a year. After a year, they may need replacing or they might get lost so you will need to get new ones.
The average cost per bottle will be somewhere between $5-9, depending on which bottle you decide to get.
A typical favorite, Phillip Avent, costs $9 per bottle. Depending on how many bottles you get, your one time cost should not exceed $50.
As the baby gets older you may have to change the nipples to a bigger size or a different level. The nipples will cost you around $10, and will be reusable.
Feeding babies in general is a messy business, whether it is breastfeeding or formula feeding.
You will be going through a lot of burp cloths on a daily basis, so you will need to keep a stack on hand which you will be reusing.
These burp cloths will cost somewhere $8 to $20 for a pack, depending on what brand you are going for.
Formula Dispensers, Pacifiers and Bottle Warmers
Formula dispensers, pacifiers and bottle warmers are convenient to have, but not a necessity.
These will be a one time cost of $50.
Budgeting Tips for Breastfeeding or Formula Feeding
As you must have realized by now, feeding expenses can rack up very quickly. Here are some budgeting tips that you can use:
- It is best to prepare for the feeding costs during pregnancy, and buy the things you will need over the span of a couple of months.
- Depending on what feeding option you will go for, you can also start saving in advance for the future expenses. You can keep a small amount of money aside from your monthly income.
- If you are buying formula, keep a lookout for sales, and then buy them in bulk at a discounted price.
- If you are thinking about buying a pump for breastfeeding, talk to your insurance provider and see if they will cover it.
- You can balance between breastfeeding and formula feeding if you are worried about formula being expensive.
What is the Right Age to Stop Breastfeeding?
According to the World Health Organization, mothers should continue to breast their child until the age of two.
This is because the nutritive benefits are especially important in the baby’s first year, and till the second year breastfeeding offers immunological support.
Even though breast milk will continue to give antibodies that will aid your child’s immune system, the levels of calcium and iron contents begin to decrease in the second year.
Age 2 is also recommended because the child is old enough to get their nutrition from solid foods and beverages.
With that being said, you can continue to breastfeed till it stops working for you and your child.
This is why there is no set “maximum” age, because weaning is a process that mothers know best when it comes to their children.
Average Age of Weaning Worldwide
Since weaning is a process, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact age.
Weaning Schedule for Babies
Weaning will differ from baby to baby. It is a process that starts when baby begins to eat solid foods, with breast milk still being their main source of nutrition.
Baby led weaning is the common term that is used when solid/finger foods are introduced to the baby which can start anywhere between 6 to 12 months.
To reinstate that weaning will be different for every baby, some babies may not be ready at 6 months. They should be able to sit upright with little help, grab the food and then put it in their mouths on their own.
The idea of a baby led weaning schedule is that as baby starts to eat solid foods, they will need less breast milk and so the breastfeeding sessions will gradually drop.
Weaning can also start when you are beginning to substitute the breast with either the bottle, or formula.
Weaning Schedule for 6 Months Old: “Food Before One is Just for Fun”
- If for any reason you want to wean baby before 6 months, (you may want to go back to work, or breastfeeding may not be working for you) you will need to get baby used to a bottle. As you do that, you will try to increase the number of bottles while decreasing the breastfeeding time.
- You will want to do this gradually to prevent breast engorgement.
- You can start by replacing one feeding with the bottle, and after waiting a couple of days you can add one more bottle to the schedule.
- Before 6 months, baby’s main source of food should be breast milk or formula.
- Weaning after 6 months will involve solid foods introduced to baby. At this point, you want food to be an experience for them and not the main source of nutrition.
- You can start by giving them food like banana, avocado, yogurt (anything that is soft and is not a choking hazard) and let them play around with it.
- It will eventually end up in their mouths when they know what to do with it.
Weaning Schedule for 1 Year Old
- At age one, your baby should be able to eat a lot of solids. You can begin to drop down the breastfeeding sessions, without having to substitute with a bottle or formula.
- You can start incorporating porridge, boiled potatoes, steamed carrots, bananas etc, to their diet.
- Once they have developed an interest in food, they should wean on their own.
- Your baby may find comfort in breastfeeding at this point, and for that you can find them other sources of comfort that will keep them distracted.
Sudden weaning, and quitting cold turkey is not advised. This is because it can lead to breast engorgement which is very painful and uncomfortable.
If breast engorgement is not dealt with, it could result in mastitis which is a breast infection.
However, for any reason, if you find yourself suddenly weaning then make sure you hand express in the shower when your breasts feel really full.
Or you can also pump a little to take the edge off.
This does not mean that you drain them completely because that encourages production.
You can also put cold cabbage leaves on your breast which will soothe the pain and also prevent milk production.
Slowly but surely, your body will understand that you are done.
Breastfeeding with Teeth is Painful…is it Time to Stop?
Babies start to get their first tooth after they surpass 6 months. It can be very unpleasant to breastfeed babies with teeth, however, this is not a sign to wean.
If your baby bites you, you have to make sure they understand that it hurts.
You can do this by stopping breastfeeding, and let them know that the bite was painful, “that hurt mommy”.
Try resuming breastfeeding after a couple of minutes, and if it happens again, you can repeat till they get the idea. (And they will pretty quickly)
How to begin Pumping and Storing Breast Milk?
A lot of mothers pump and store breast milk. You must have seen pictures of milk baggies stacked up in the freezer and probably wondered why?
One of the most important reasons they do this is to have a security blanket and to make sure their baby always has enough milk.
Some mothers are afraid their supply will go down, which is why they will pump frequently to keep regulating the supply and store the excess milk for the future.
Mothers may be returning back to work, and will want to make sure that there is enough breast milk for baby when they are away.
With breast milk stocked up in the freezer, mothers can also wean their child early.
If you want to begin pumping and storing breast milk for any one of these reasons, here is how you can start:
1. Pumping your Breast Milk
- You will be pumping a lot if you want to store your breast milk, especially in the first weeks.
- Pumps are usually covered by insurance in the U.S, so ask your insurance provider about this. You will be needing an electric pump since you will be doing it very frequently. Moms usually like the Medela ones the best.
- If it is under 12 weeks after you gave birth, you should be pumping every 2-3 hours for at least 15 minutes, whenever you are away from the baby.
- 12 weeks after, you can pump every 3 to 4 hours.
- The pumping will tell your body how much supply needs to be established.
- In the beginning, it will be a little difficult to balance pumping with meeting your child’s needs, but you will get the hang of it pretty quickly.
- Most mothers prefer to pump half an hour after feeding the baby, because it is unlikely that they will get hungry that quickly.
2. Storing Breast Milk
- If you plan on storing a lot of milk, then you will need to get some milk freezer bags. If you are on a budget, you can always get milk freezer bags from Target. According to most mothers they are just as good as the popular Lansinoh ones.
- When it comes to storing milk, moms tend to have rules of their own. However, you can store milk at room temperature for up to 8 hours, 5 days in the refrigerator and it can stay in the freezer for up to a year.
- If you are storing milk in the freezer, make sure the bags are completely flat and stacked up on each other.
3. Thawing Breast Milk
- When you have to thaw the milk for feeding, you have two options.
- You can thaw the freezer bag in some hot water. But make sure you check the temperature on your wrist frequently. The milk will be good for only 24 hours this way.
- The second option is thawing it in the fridge. Since it will be good for up to a week in the fridge, you can put your bags in beforehand so you don’t have to go through the hassle of thawing it in hot water.
- When you are thawing it, make sure to swirl it around instead of shaking it otherwise the milk will break down.
- In case the milk looks separated, just heat it up so the cream melts into the milk.
Tips for Storing Breast Milk – From Moms Themselves!
- Pumped milk is good in the fridge for up to 6 days.
- Make sure to get all the air out from the freezer bags before you lay them flat. This will prevent any leakage from happening.
- If the milk smells metallic or soapy, it means it contains high levels of lipase, which is an enzyme that breaks down fats. The milk will still be good but some babies may not like the taste or smell. Others won’t mind.
- Some mothers have said their babies don’t like the taste and smell of frozen milk after it is warmed up. So before you make a huge stash in the freezer, you should test it out with your baby first.
- Always use defrosted milk before fresh milk because it has a shorter life.
- Always use the oldest breast milk from the freezer – first in first out.
- Never thaw breast milk in the microwave because that can destroy nutrients in the breast and create hot spots, which can be too much for the baby to handle.
- Don’t use glass jars or bottles to store the milk because changes in temperature can cause the glass to break. Jars will also take up less space in the freezer.
- Freeze in the quantities you know for sure you will be using. This quantity should equal your baby’s bottle size. This will prevent any waste of excess milk.
- Labelling the bags will help keep track of how old or new they are.
Breastfeeding as a Lifestyle: Home, Work, Public
Breastfeeding will involve adjustment in the beginning. It is a different experience for all mothers.
For some it takes longer to adjust for various reasons – baby not latching properly, milk coming in late, etc.
And for some it is a breeze from the start.
Regardless of how it is, if you plan on breastfeeding till your baby reaches a certain age, you will have to make changes to your lifestyle.
Feeding is a round the clock job, and it will be demanding which is why you should be prepared so it is not hard for you to transition to the new life.
Breastfeeding at Home
As long as you have made the necessary adjustments in the house, such as having the right pillows, some snacks ready, and a show or book to keep you occupied; you will be comfortable with breastfeeding.
Most moms simply have to figure out a system that works for them the best. This could be having a spot to breastfeed in the house, or a chair that they will use for nursing.
Mothers have found breastfeeding to be a great bonding experience, that also gives them a break from their daily chores.
Breastfeeding also takes away the hassle of washing and sterilizing bottles, which is another plus point for a lot of mothers.
Breastfeeding at Work
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), breastfeeding employees have the right to pump in the workplace for a year after giving birth. The employer is also responsible for providing the employee a place for pumping.
This gives working mothers the convenience of pumping to make sure that the supply is regulated, even when they are away from the baby.
Pumping at work will require adjustment in the beginning, because it will involve you taking out the time during work so you can pump. Or you can pump away while working if that works for you!
Here is a tentative schedule that you can follow at work for pumping:
- Nursing before you leave (ex: at 7 am)
- Pump at 10 am (you can pump 2-3 hours after you have nursed)
- Pump at 1 pm
- Pump at 4 pm
- Nurse when you return home
- Nurse again before bed, 8 pm
Breastfeeding in Public
Most mothers believe breastfeeding in public will be a stressful process, but it’s really not once you actually do it!
People generally tend to be very supportive and accommodating. Most public places also have a designated spot for moms to breastfeed, depending on which state you are in.
If you want to be discreet, mothers have recommended using a scarf as a cover as opposed to traditional covers. With a scarf it is easy to adjust.
Nursing bras are necessary so you breastfeed in public with convenience.