10 Common Breastfeeding Problems & Solutions

10 Common Breastfeeding Problems & Solutions

     You already know that “breast is best,” but just because breastfeeding is natural, doesn’t mean it always comes naturally. Whether you’re a first time mom or have more than one, there are several common breastfeeding problems you may encounter.

Not only is there a learning curve when you start breastfeeding, but other issues like low milk supply, breastfeeding pain and engorgement can crop up.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended infants are exclusively breastfed for 6 months and then continue breastfeeding alongside solids for up to a year.

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although more than 83 percent of infants start to breastfeed at birth, only about 57 percent are still breastfeeding at 6 months.

Although any amount of breastfeeding is good for your baby, overcoming the challenges can make all the difference. Here, read on for 10 of the most common breastfeeding problems and solutions to make your breastfeeding journey easier.

1. Breastfeeding pain

One of the most common breastfeeding problems moms deal with is breastfeeding pain.

If you have pain when your baby latches on, it’s probably because the latch isn’t correct.

The best way to find out is to work with a lactation consultant in the hospital or birth center, or at home. A lactation consultant can show you how to position your baby, ensure the latch is right and that your baby is getting enough milk.

Another reason you may have breastfeeding pain is tongue-tie, a condition in which the piece of tissue under the tongue, or the frenulum, attaches to the bottom of the tongue and makes breastfeeding difficult.

According to a 2007 study in the journal Canadian Family Physician, between 4 and 10 percent of newborns are diagnosed with the condition.

When I had my second child, I had pain every time she latched on and when the midwife took a look, she said it was because of a slight tongue-tie.

I opted to have frenotomy, a procedure to snip her frenulum, but some providers may take a wait and see approach since it can improve.

Also, surgery to correct tongue-tie isn’t without controversy. According to a July 2019 study in the JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery, 63 percent of newborns who were referred for the surgery didn’t need it.

Since there are other abnormalities that can occur which can make breastfeeding painful, it’s always a good idea to consult with a lactation consultant.

Related: My Love-Hate Relationship With Breastfeeding

2. Low milk supply

Low milk supply is one of the most common breastfeeding problems and suffice to say, one of the most common reasons moms throw in the towel early or supplement with formula.

In fact, 49 percent of mothers said they stopped breastfeeding after two months because breast milk alone wasn’t enough to satisfy their babies.

Although many moms say they struggle with low milk supply, what’s interesting is that the research doesn’t add up.

Rachel O’Brien, a lactation consultant in Sudbury, Massachusetts has a great blog series on low milk supply I recommend you check out to see what the research says and the possible reasons for low milk supply.

Another challenge is that when you feed your baby a bottle, you know how much he ate, but when you’re breastfeeding, it’s not so easy.

If your baby is gaining weight, he has a certain amount of weight diapers a day and he’s hitting his developmental milestones, your milk supply is probably adequate.

If you’re uncertain however, make an appointment with a lactation consultant who can weigh your baby right after you feed him to make sure he’s getting enough.

3. Engorged breasts

My breasts are—and always have been— super-small: I’m barely an A cup.

Yet when I was breastfeeding, I couldn’t believe how large my breasts were—porn-star big.

It turns out, it’s totally normal.

In the first few days and weeks after giving birth when your milk comes in, it’s normal for your breasts to be engorged and feel hard.

There’s no doubt it’s uncomfortable, but be sure to feed frequently, at least 10 times per 24 hours.

Make sure your baby is emptying each breast during feedings and your breasts feel soft afterwards.

You can also gently massage your breasts before nursing or try a cold compress for up to 20 minutes beforehand.

4. Leaking breasts

With my first baby, I produced a lot of milk. She had a strong, efficient suck but I was also pumping, which increased my milk supply even more.

When I sat down to breastfeed, my milk would let down so fast she would often let go of the latch to catch a breath and my breasts would spray everywhere—something that’s known as overactive letdown.

Because I was producing a lot of milk, my breasts would leak when she cried, when another baby cried and even when I thought about her.

During the first few weeks of breastfeeding when you’re feeding all the time, it’s common to have leaking breasts.

The solution? Get yourself a box of nursing pads and keep extras on hand.

5. Breastfeeding latch

When it comes to breastfeeding problems, suffice to say, getting the latch right is one of the most common obstacles. It’s part art, part science.

When the latch is right, a large portion of your areola, or the dark skin around your nipple, is in your baby’s mouth. Your nipple should be opposite his nose and aimed at his upper lip and nose, not the middle of the mouth.

Sometimes all it takes is a different breastfeeding position to get it right.

I found the Boppie nursing pillow made it so much easier and I recommend you bring it to the hospital because propping your arm on regular ‘ol pillows isn’t ideal.

One I got the positioning and latch down pat however, I found I could sit anywhere and in any position.

A proper latch also means your breasts will drain and you’ll probably hear your baby swallowing. You’ll feel a slight tug at your breast, but there shouldn’t be pain. Always check with a lactation consultant if you’re unsure.

6. Sleepy baby

One of the biggest breastfeeding problems I had with my second child was that she was very sleepy especially the first few days after she was born.

I know some people say never wake a sleeping baby, but breastfed babies need to feed regularly, and besides, she was 4 weeks premature so I wanted to make sure she was gaining weight.

Some things you can try include switching breasts frequently, burping your baby, changing her diaper, holding her upright, taking her out of her swaddle or undressing her, massaging her hands or feet, and talking and singing to her and making eye contact.

7. Nipple confusion

After I had my first child, the lactation consultant in the hospital explained that I shouldn’t introduce a bottle of pumped milk for awhile until breastfeeding was established because it could create nipple confusion and cause her to prefer the bottle over the breast.

I did wait, but within a month or so, my daughter had no problem breastfeeding most of the time and taking a bottle from my husband at night.

My second child was more apprehensive to the bottle so I guess it depends on the baby.

8. Plugged milk ducts

Sometimes when a milk duct becomes clogged, you’ll have a hard lump in your breast.

Just as you would do to treat engorgement, continue with your normal feedings, make sure you’re draining your breasts entirely, massage the area and drink plenty of fluids.

Related: 9 Food Rules for Breastfeeding

9. Inverted or flat nipples

If your nipples are flat or inverted, it can make breastfeeding challenging especially in the first few weeks when your baby’s mouth is very small and he’s still getting used to feedings.

Although a proper latch is when your baby has a large portion of the areola in his mouth, inverted (concave) or flat nipples may make it challenging to get the latch right.

The good news is that it doesn’t mean breastfeeding will be impossible.

Talk to a lactation consultant about different treatments she recommends, which may include compressing your areola during feedings, using a breast pump before feedings to draw out the nipples, or using breast shells.

10. Mastitis

When I was breastfeeding, I had a bout of mastitis and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

Not only did I have a large lump in my breast, but I felt like someone ran over me with a Mack truck.

Mastitis is an inflammation of the breast tissue that can cause redness, tenderness, or firmness around the breast as well as fever, fatigue and malaise.

Between 2 and 10 percent of breastfeeding moms are affected and mastitis may or may not be accompanied by a bacterial infection.

The condition usually happens when a milk duct becomes blocked from engorgement, but it can also happen from wearing a tight bra or clothing.

To clear mastitis, make sure you fully empty your breasts when you breastfeed or pump. If you have pain, applying heat to the area can also help with let down.

Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics if the symptoms have been present for 12 to 24 hours or if you’re feeling ill.

It’s important to get plenty of rest, eat healthy and drink plenty of water.

 

Have you had any of these breastfeeding problems? Tell me what worked for you in the comments!

My Love-Hate Relationship With Breastfeeding

My Love-Hate Relationship With Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read about all of the amazing benefits of breastfeeding and decided right away that I’d breastfeed.

It seemed natural, easy and the best decision for my baby, but little did I know that after two babies and 25 months combined, I’d grow to have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding.

Here’s why.

Things I Loved About Breastfeeding

 

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s health and your own.

To this day, I still think it’s one of the most amazing experiences as a mom. I was in awe that my body could provide the perfect nutrition my babies needed and the nutrients in my breastmilk even adjusted as they grew.

For babies, studies show breastfeeding can lower the risk of SIDS, childhood obesity, type-2 diabetes, asthma, ear infections, eczema, diarrhea and vomiting and lower respiratory infections.

There’s also research that shows breastfeeding may prevent picky eating.

When it comes to moms, breastfeeding lowers the risk for type-2 diabetes, ovarian cancer and certain types of breast cancer.

What’s more, an August 2018 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that women who breastfeed for one month or longer had a 23 percent lower risk for stroke.

 

My breasts got huge

Since I went through puberty, my breasts have been barely an A cup.

To be perfectly honest, it never really bothered me much and it was something I just accepted about my body.

When I was breastfeeding however, I couldn’t believe how large my breasts grew—porn-star big.

They went back to their normal size when I stopped breastfeeding of course, but it was a nice benefit for me and my husband while they lasted.

 

 

I was grateful for breastfeeding support

After I had my babies, I was grateful to have support from the lactation consultants at the hospitals I gave birth in.

The women took their time to explain how to position my babies, make sure the latch was correct and how I could tell that they were getting enough milk.

To get that help made all the difference in making breastfeeding easier, and I felt supported by other women who had been there especially during a time when I felt totally unsure of myself as a new mom.

 

 

The weight loss

The day I left the hospital with my first child, the neonatal nurse told me if I continued to breastfeed, “the weight would melt right off.”

That was good news for me since I had gained too much weight during pregnancy.

She was right. I exclusively breastfed, ate healthy and exercised regularly and I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight in just a few months. 

Related: How I Lost The Baby Weight Twice

Although breastfeeding can help you lose weight, this isn’t the case for everyone.

How much you’ll lose and how fast depends on how long you exclusively breastfeed for, how much weight you gained during your pregnancy, as well as your diet and exercise habits after you give birth.

Things I Hated About Breastfeeding

 

My first experience was a negative one

Let me paint a picture for you of my first breastfeeding experience in the hospital.

It’s an experience I wouldn’t wish on any mom and it’s something that could have easily deterred me from breastfeeding.

At 38 weeks, I had just given birth after a 41-hour ordeal in which a nurse told my husband and I that I didn’t need a birthing ball—women in other countries just buck up and give birth!

And my doctor walked out of the room while I pushing, annoyed that I wasn’t delivering fast enough.

Those were just the highlights of what was an arduous labor and delivery with plenty of twists and turns.

By the way, this was a top ranking hospital in one of the wealthiest areas in the country.

In any case, I was holding my daughter and one of the labor and delivery nurses was by my side. I started to breastfeed and asked her if the latch was correct. Her response? “I thought you said you read a book about breastfeeding?”

I was shocked and upset by her utter lack of understanding, kindness and compassion.

New moms need to feel supported—not shamed.

 

 

Breastfeeding is a part-time job

Don’t get me wrong, pulling out your breast and putting your baby next to you is quicker and much easier than having to get up in the middle night to prepare a bottle while your baby cries.

But breastfeeding is time consuming in other ways and takes more patience than bottle feeding.

When I was breastfeeding, I always felt like I was “on-call,” especially in the beginning when there are 8 to 12 feedings a day.

In the first few months, my husband would wake up to feed our daughter a bottle of pumped milk but I often woke up to pump as well so my milk supply wouldn’t dwindle.

 

 

My baby didn’t eat like formula-fed infants do

When I had my second child, I saw a lactation consultant and told her the Babywise methodology, the eat, play, sleep schedule that had worked perfectly with my older daughter wasn’t working at all with my second.

Instead, she wanted to breastfed all the time and I was one tired mama.

She explained that unlike formula-fed babies who eat on a schedule and can go longer between feedings, breast milk is digested quickly and the truth is, newborns eat all the time.

 

 

 

I got mastitis and D-MER

When I was breastfeeding, I had a bout of mastitis and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

Not only did I have a large lump in my breast, but I felt like someone ran over me with a Mack truck.

I also battled a sneaky condition called Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (DMER), in which I had a moment of intense anxiety and feeling of doom right as my milk letdown.

 

 

My body was out of control

With my first baby, I produced a lot of milk. She had a strong, efficient suck and I was also pumping.

My breasts would leak when she—or another baby nearby—cried so I always wore nursing pads.

When I sat down to breastfeed, my milk would let down so fast my daughter would often let go of the latch to catch a breath and my breasts would spray everywhere. 

Since breastfeeding also causes estrogen levels to be low, sex was challenging and often painful. And those leaking breasts? Yea, that happened during sex too thanks to oxytocin—fun times!

 

 

Going back to work was hard

I was lucky to be able to work from home when I had my kids and have (the most amazing) babysitter care for them in our home.

I started working again two weeks after my daughter was born and I only worked part-time. But I had deadlines to meet so trying to feed my baby or pump a bottle and get my work done in a short amount of time was stressful.

Studies show only about 50 percent of moms are still breastfeeding at 6 months and we know that returning to the workforce is one major obstacle.

 

 

My child had tongue tie

When I had my second daughter, I told one of the midwives in the hospital that breastfeeding was painful.

She looked in my daughter’s mouth and said she had a slight tongue-tie, a condition in which the piece of tissue under the tongue, the frenulum, attaches to the bottom of the tongue which makes breastfeeding difficult.

I wasn’t in severe pain but after a year of breastfeeding, I knew it shouldn’t feel that way.

She also explained that if it was left uncorrected, it could interfere with her speech later on. I also couldn’t wait to have the in-office procedure to snip the frenulum,  because if I did, she’d need surgery in the hospital.

A few days later, I made an appointment with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor and although I decided it was the best choice, it was a rushed visit and seemed like the only option.

Within 2 minutes, he clipped the frenulum with scissors and my daughter burst into tears. When I went to check out and was told the procedure was $500, I cried too.

Despite all of the breastfeeding challenges I faced, I was grateful that it ultimately became easy for me and I didn’t have to deal with low milk supply or make the decision to go back into an office full-time like others moms do.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Did you have a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding? Let me know your experience by leaving me a comment! 

9 Ways To Make Breastfeeding Easier

9 Ways To Make Breastfeeding Easier

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things about being a mom and although your body and your baby are designed for it, that doesn’t always mean it comes naturally.

It certainly didn’t for me.

I breastfed both of my daughters for a little over a year, and there were unique challenges with each.

Not only is there a learning curve but between painful, sore nipples, problems with your latch and milk supply, and what seem like 24/7 feedings, I quickly realized breastfeeding was no easy feat.

Add to that challenges like breastfeeding in public and returning to work, and it’s no surprise that only about 50 percent of moms are still breastfeeding at 6 months.

Still, there are ways to make breastfeeding easier. Here’s my advice.

1. Start breastfeeding as soon as possible

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend moms and babies have skin-to-skin care immediately after birth or as soon as the mom is able to, and continue to do so for at least an hour.

Studies show moms of babies who have skin-to-skin care following birth are more likely to be exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks postpartum.

Keeping your baby close right after birth also helps you to recognize when he’s rooting and ready to feed.

About 50 percent of hospitals have rooming-in practices, but if yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to keep your baby in your room since studies show it can increases the initiation and duration of breastfeeding.

2. Ask for help right away

After you give birth, ask to have a lactation consultant come into your room to show you breastfeeding positions that are comfortable and how to get the latch right.

Although I found the lactation consultant in the hospital to be helpful, once we were home I still felt unsure about how to sit and hold my baby and I worried if she was getting enough milk.

One of the best things I did was return to the hospital for a private consultation with two lactation consultants. My husband and I spent more than hour with them learning what the latch should feel like and how to position her, and they weighed her to make sure she was getting enough milk.

The hospital or birth center you deliver in is a good place to start or ask your provider for a referral.

Support through La Leche League, a new mom’s group, or from a friend can also help you navigate the breastfeeding journey with ease.

3. Get the right gear

It’s more affordable than formula feeding, but getting some basic products can make breastfeeding easier.

I found nursing bras, receiving blankets, a double electric breast pump, breastmilk bags, nursing pads and the Boppie to be invaluable.

4. Know the signs of mastitis

Between 2 and 10 percent of breastfeeding moms get mastitis, an inflammation  of the breast tissue that can cause redness, tenderness, or firmness around the breast as well as fever, fatigue and malaise. Mastitis may or may not be accompanied by a bacterial infection.

Mastitis usually happens when a milk duct becomes blocked from engorgement, but it can also happen from wearing a tight bra or clothing.

To clear mastitis, make sure you fully empty your breasts when you breastfeed or pump. If you have pain, applying heat to the area can also help with let down.

Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics if the symptoms have been present for 12 to 24 hours or if you’re feeling ill.

It’s important to get plenty of rest, eat healthy and drink plenty of water too.

5. Get your spouse on board

When you bring your newborn home, you’ll probably be breastfeeding night and day, but just because you have the breasts doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.

Your spouse can take one of the nighttime feedings with a bottle of your pumped milk, but you’ll want to make sure you pump so your milk supply doesn’t decrease.  I found that waking up to pump when my husband fed our daughter didn’t make breastfeeding easier for me, but you might be able to make it work if you can pump before you go to sleep, for example.

As an alternative, you can feed your baby and then let your partner take over with the diaper change and putting your baby back to sleep.

6. Eat protein

Breastfeeding places high demands for protein on your body so it’s important to make sure you’re getting plenty at every meal and snack you eat. Eating protein will also stabilize your blood sugar, give you energy, and help you lose the baby weight.

Excellent sources of protein include:

  • Lean meats
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Tempeh, tofu and soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters

Related: 15 Easy and Healthy Snacks For Breastfeeding Moms

7. Drink plenty of water

A misnomer about breastfeeding is that drinking plenty of water is important for your milk supply, but upping your intake of H2O actually doesn’t increase your milk supply, according to Kelly Bonyata, an international board certified lactation consultant and founder of KellyMom.com

What drinking plenty of water can do however, is help prevent you from feeling even more fatigued than you probably already do.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine says the adequate intake (AI) for water while breastfeeding is 3.1 liters but notes there’s no data to suggest that kidney function and the amount of hydration breastfeeding moms need is any different than moms who are not breastfeeding.

Rather than keeping tabs on how much water you’re drinking, a good rule of thumb is to drink for thirst. Keep a water bottle near you during the day to make sure you’re staying well-hydrated and be mindful of symptoms of dehydration, which include dark urine, constipation, and fatigue.

If plain water isn’ your thing, add slices of cucumber or strawberry for a hint of flavor. Water from other sources count too: fruits and vegetables, soups, juices, milk, tea and coffee.

8. Get sleep—when you can

Let’s get real for a second: it seems that everything you read about having a new baby at home comes along with the advice, sleep when your baby does.

I don’t know about you, but after I had my daughters—and for several years later—sleep was a pipe dream.

My toddler and infant weren’t always on the same nap schedule and when they did nap, there were always things to be done like laundry, cleaning, bills, etc.

Still, it’s really important to sleep when you can because it’s important for your physical and mental health: it affects your hormones, immune system, appetite and your overall function. Although sleep deprivation is inevitable,  realize that it can contribute to the symptoms of postpartum depression.

Related: 6 Subtle Signs of Postpartum Depression


9. Wean slowly


When I started to wean my older daughter after her first birthday, I landed in urgent care.

I already had been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) years earlier, but I had such intense anxiety and nausea I knew something else was going on.

The doctor I saw suggested I follow up with my primary care physician about gallstones, but I knew he was wrong.

Something that I think is not often spoken about is that weaning can cause sadness, depression, irritability, mood swings and anxiety, according to Bonyata.

Wean too quick and you can also set yourself up for engorged breast and mastitis (see #4).

When you start the weaning process, my advice is to do it slowly.

Try eliminating a feeding and waiting a few days until you drop another one. You can also gradually lessen the amount of time you breastfeed during each session.

Weaning can take 2 to 3 weeks to be complete so be patient—and enjoy this time with your child.

What are some things you’ve done to make breastfeeding easier? Let me know in the comments!

14 Healthy Foods To Feed Your Baby Before Age 1

14 Healthy Foods To Feed Your Baby Before Age 1

After I had my first child, I couldn’t wait until she started solids.

I was so excited to make homemade baby food, try out all the different flavor and texture combinations, and introduce them to her for the very first time.

I realized that one of my responsibilities as a parent was to feed her healthy food and raise her to be an adventurous eater.

Just as I was helping her brain development by reading to her and her gross motor development with tummy time, feeding her in a healthy way was helping her to develop her food preferences, expand her palette and set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.

In fact, research backs this up and shows the earlier and more frequent you offer healthy foods to your baby, the better.

According to a July 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition, infants who were exposed to a basic artichoke puree 10 times were more likely to accept and like it up to 3 months later than babies who were fed either a sweetened artichoke puree or an energy dense artichoke puree with more oil and salt.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend parents expose their babies to a wide variety of healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables starting at 6-months-old. As babies grow, it’s also important to introduce a variety of textures to encourage chewing.

Here, read on for a list of 15 healthy foods to feed your baby before age 1.

1. Spinach

To increase the chances that your baby will love vegetables—not just sweet types like butternut squash—start out with the dark, green leafy types like spinach.

A good source of protein and fiber, spinach is also rich in vitamins A, C, E, B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Since spinach is on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list for high levels of pesticide residues, consider purchasing organic spinach (fresh or frozen).

2. Nut butters


When my kids were babies just a few years ago, the advice from pediatricians was to avoid feeding babies nuts to avoid food allergies, but in 2017 all that changed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now say parents with babies who don’t have eczema or food allergies can “freely” introduce peanuts between 4 and 6 months of age.

I recommend you read all of the guidelines here and talk to your pediatrician before introducing nut butter—not nuts since they’re a choking hazard.

Once you get the green light however, nut butters like peanut butter and almond butter can be a healthy addition to your baby’s diet. 

They’re an excellent source of protein, high in omega-3 fatty acids which support brain and eye health, and vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals.


3. Avocado


With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate, potassium, and magnesium, avocado is one of the best healthy foods to feed your baby.

Avocado is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which are vital for brain growth and development.

It also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids, or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, an April 2015 study found.

4. Pumpkin


With 22 vitamins and minerals
including vitamins A, C, and E, plus fiber, pumpkin is a great first food for babies.

Pumpkin is also rich in lutein and beta-carotene, an antioxidant and plant pigment that gives the fruit its bright orange color.


5. Kiwi


Kiwi is a good source of fiber, vitamin E, potassium and copper, and an excellent source of vitamins C and K.

Since it’s sweet, juicy and soft, it also makes an ideal first food.

6. Eggs


Eggs are an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, protein and choline, an essential nutrient that is beneficial for heart health, brain and liver function and metabolism.

If you’re breastfeeding, feeding your baby eggs is also a great idea because the yolks are an excellent source of iron, and iron stores start to become depleted between 4 and 6 months old.

Eggs are delicious, have a delicate texture and are easy for babies to pick up. They’re also easily mixed into purees or meals with chunkier textures.


7. Carrots


Carrots get their bright orange color from beta-carotene, a carotenoid, or a type of antioxidant.

Carrots are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamins A, B6, C and K, and are a perfect first food for babies because they’re easily steamed and pureed.

Their mild, but slightly sweet taste is also favorable to most babies too.


8. Fish


According to a June 2019 study by the AAP, although fish and seafood are high in protein and other nutrients like vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids which kids need for their development, most aren’t eating enough.

Early introduction to fish and seafood may also improve a baby’s neurodevelopment, decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease and may even help prevent asthma and eczema, the AAP states.

Mercury exposure is always a concern, but salmon, and other types of low-mercury fish, are good choices.

Related: What Types of Fish Are Safe for Kids?


9. Broccoli

Broccoli is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, iron and potassium.

When starting solids, you can make a broccoli puree or if you’re doing baby-led weaning, steam the florets until they’re very soft.


10. Sweet potatoes


Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, vitamin C and fiber—a good thing if your baby is constipated.

11. Liver


It may not be a food you’ve eaten, but liver is surprisingly one of the best healthy foods to feed your baby before age 1.

Iron is an excellent source of protein, iron, vitamins A, B6 and B12 and minerals like zinc and selenium.

If you decide to try it, it’s a good idea to purchase liver that’s from pasture-raised, organic fed animals and from a butcher you trust.

12. Apples


Apples are healthy and delicious and a first food for baby that’s easy to digest.

A good source of vitamin C and fiber, apples also have quercetin, a flavonoid that work as antioxidants and may improve brain function, a March 2017 study in the Journal Behavioural Brain Research suggests.

13. Blueberries


Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K and manganese.

Blueberries also make for a quick and easy finger food, or as a puree, you can blend them with other vegetables, mix them into oatmeal or drizzle on pancakes.


14. Beets


Rich in antioxidants, beets are a good source of vitamin C, iron, magnesium, fiber, folate, potassium and manganese.

Studies show beets may also be beneficial for brain health. According to an October 2015 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, drinking beetroot juice can improve cognitive performance.

While their bright red color will likely spark your baby’s interest, they can have a slightly bitter taste. To offset it, try roasting them, or mixing them with apples, pears, or sweet potatoes.

8 Tips for Traveling and Flying With Breast Milk

8 Tips for Traveling and Flying With Breast Milk

If you need to travel for work or you’re planning a getaway, chances are, you’ll have a lot of questions about traveling and flying with breast milk, whether or not your baby will be with you.

Breastfeeding and pumping are no easy feats even when you’re in the comfort of your home.

But when you travel and go through the airport, there are more things to think about.

For example, how much breast milk can you take through airport security? Can you bring your breast pump on the plane? How to store breast milk properly? And how to ship breast milk?

Here are questions to those answers and more.

1. Know the TSA rules for flying with breast milk

Breast milk doesn’t fall under the TSA’s 3-1-1 liquids rule, so you can bring more than 3.4 ounces through airport security and it doesn’t have to be stored in a quart-sized bag.

The TSA says “reasonable quantities” are OK, so although that’s not very specific to breastfeeding moms who count every ounce, you probably shouldn’t bring a freezer full of pumped breast milk, for example.

The TSA also allows breastfeeding moms to bring ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and cooler bags. If they’re partially frozen or slushy however, they will screen them.

Before going through airport security, remove your pumped breastmilk and present it to the TSA officer for inspection. They will likely screen the breast milk by x-ray.

If the breast milk is frozen, they shouldn’t have to inspect it.

If they decide to test the breast milk, they may ask you to open the container and pour some into another container.

Don’t want them to? They can do additional screenings of the breast milk but be sure to ask the agent to change into clean gloves.

2. Know the TSA breast pump policy

 

The TSA breast pump policy allows you to bring your breast pump in your carry- on bag or checked luggage.

Although the FDA says breast pumps are medical devices and as a result, they shouldn’t be counted as your carry-on item, some airlines may not consider them as such.

Since many airlines also charge baggage fees, it’s probably a good idea to confirm with them before your flight.


3. Pack your breast pump parts

 

If you’ll be pumping on the plane, make sure you bring everything you need including all of your breast pump parts, bottles, bags and a cover up.

Although I don’t recommend washing your pump parts in the airplane restroom, you can either wash them when you land in the airport bathroom or at your destination or use Medela’s breast pump and accessory sanitizer.


4. Map out a place to pump

Many airports have the Mamava lactation pods for moms to have a private place to pump. Some airports also have lactation lounges or nursing rooms.

You can also contact your airline ahead of time so find out if there is a private lounge or room you can use.

If all else fails, head to a family restroom and look for one with an outlet if your pump isn’t battery-powered.


5. Ask the hotel about a mini-fridge or freezer


Check with the hotel ahead of time to see if they offer a mini-fridge to store your pumped breast milk.

If they don’t, you may be able to request one or ask them to store your breast milk in a central refrigerator or freezer.

You can also ask them to freeze your ice packs or fill up your cooler with ice before you leave.

For specific guidelines on how to store breast milk, KellyMom.com has a helpful chart.


6. Look into breast milk shipping services


If you won’t be traveling with your baby and need to ship your expressed breast milk home, there are options.

You can try FedEx’s cold shipping service  or Milk Stork, a woman-owned company that also offers a “pump and tote” option

7. Bring what you need for traveling with breastmilk by car


If you’ll be driving, check to see if your breast pump has a car adapter so you don’t have to find a place on the road to pump.

Although it takes more work and isn’t as powerful as an electric pump, a manual pump can help.

If you’ll be taking a road trip and bringing breast milk with you, store your breast milk in a freezer bag or cooler with ice, ice packs or freezer packs.

If you’ll be traveling for several hours, you might consider using dry ice to transport your breast milk.


8. Plan ahead for traveling with breastmilk on a cruise


If you’ll be taking a cruise, it’s a good idea to contact the cruise line ahead of time.

Ask about the types of outlets available in the stateroom and if there is a mini-bar available to store pumped breast milk.

If you’re concerned that the mini-bar isn’t cold enough, so you can ask the stateroom steward for a larger refrigerator or ice for your cooler.

If not, ask the cruise line if they can store your breast milk in a central refrigerator or freezer.

What are your tips for traveling and flying with breast milk? Let me know in the comments!

 

6 Unhealthy Habits To Avoid During Pregnancy

6 Unhealthy Habits To Avoid During Pregnancy

From the minute you find out you’re pregnant, your brain gets flooded with questions. From what to eat and what to avoid, how to deal with morning sickness and pregnancy constipation, and which types of activities are safe, there’s a lot to think about.

When it comes to having a healthy pregnancy, you already know that smoking, vaping, alcohol and certain medications are off limits. Yet there are other unhealthy habits to avoid during pregnancy because they could affect you and your baby’s health now and down the line. Here are 6.


1. Eating too much


According to a recent survey by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC), only 13 percent of people say they always stop eating when they’ve had enough, a trend which is affecting how many women start out their pregnancies.

In fact, only 45 percent of women have a normal weight when they become pregnant and new research suggests, when it comes to a woman’s risk for complications, pre-pregnancy weight is more important than pregnancy weight gain. 

During pregnancy, the “eat for two” mentality has also become an issue, with 47 percent of women who gain more than the recommended amount of weight.

Weight gain is associated with a higher risk for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, sleep apnea, preterm birth, birth defects, problems during labor and delivery and a higher risk for c-sections.

Research also suggests babies born to obese moms are more likely to be overweight themselves and may be at risk for poor developmental outcomes.

Excess weight gain can also make it harder to lose the weight after you give birth.

In the first trimester, you actually don’t need to consume extra calories. If you have a normal body mass index (BMI), an extra 340 calories a day during the second trimester and an extra 450 calories a day in the third trimester is appropriate, according to the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

If you’re carrying twins or multiples, or you’re underweight, overweight or obese when you become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calories for a healthy weight gain.

2. Not eating enough


It should come as no surprise that dieting is one of the unhealthy habits to avoid during pregnancy. 

While most women gain too much weight during pregnancy, a June 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 23 percent of women don’t gain enough to meet the recommendations.

Of course this could be due to hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), or extreme morning sickness, a loss of appetite or a medical condition, but some women may actually restrict their calories.

In fact, one survey found nearly 50 percent of pregnant women admitted to cutting calories, eliminating entire food groups and eating a lot of low-calorie and low-fat foods. A few women said they even turned to fasting, cleansing, purging and using diet pills and laxatives.

Low pregnancy weight gain is associated with delivering a premature baby, a baby who is too small and may have difficulty starting breastfeeding, and an increased risk for illness and developmental delays, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Low pregnancy weight gain can also increase a child’s risk for obesity.

According to a September 2014 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who had a normal body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy and gained less than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy were 63 percent more likely to have a child who was overweight or obese compared to women who gained the recommended amount of weight.

You might be worried about gaining too much pregnancy weight or losing the baby weight after you give birth but pregnancy isn’t the time to diet.

Be sure to check out the pregnancy weight gain recommendations which take into account your pre-pregnancy weight and if you’re having one baby or multiples.

 

3. Being sedentary


Between morning sickness, mood swings and exhaustion, heading to the gym may not be on the top of your list, but being sedentary—even sitting at a desk all day—can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.

According to a March 2017 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, pregnant women spend 50 percent of their time in sedentary behaviors, which is associated with higher levels of high cholesterol, inflammation and fetal macrosomia, or an infant who is born significantly larger—more than 8 pounds, 13 ounces.

Fetal macrosomia affects between 3 and 15 percent of all pregnancies and is associated with pregnancy complications and health risks to the baby.

Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia due to diabetes, having a previous infant with fetal macrosomia, pre-pregnancy weight and pregnancy weight gain are all risk factors.

Yet studies show women who stay active during pregnancy have a lower risk of excess weight gain and macrosomia and are less likely to have a caesarean section.

Establishing an exercise habit during pregnancy will also make it more likely that you’ll stick with it after you deliver—and for years to come.

 

See: 9 Amazing Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy [VIDEO]

 

4. Eating too much fake food and sugar


Cravings for salty and sweet foods may be in full force and although it’s probably OK to indulge occasionally if you have a normal, healthy pregnancy, avoiding fast food, processed, packaged foods and foods high in sugar is ideal.

Studies suggest a poor pregnancy diet can increase a child’s risk for allergies and preference for high fat, high sugar foods and affect behavior.

In fact, an October 2013 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found mothers who eat more unhealthy foods high in sugar, salt and refined carbohydrates have children with increased behavioral problems such as aggression and tantrums.

Eating a healthy pregnancy diet is critical to support your baby’s growth and development and prevent pregnancy complications.

5. Overdoing the coffee


If you’re like me and can’t talk to anyone in the morning until you’ve had a cup of coffee and then need several more throughout the day, breaking your addiction can be a tough one.

Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) say the research is unclear as to whether caffeine consumption increases the risk for miscarriage and preterm birth, they advise pregnant women to limit their overall caffeine consumption from all sources (coffee, tea, soda and chocolate) to 200 milligrams a day.

To put that in perspective, an 8-ounce regular coffee is 95 milligrams of caffeine so have two and you’re at your max for the day. For specific recommendations about caffeine, check out this chart on BabyCenter.com.

6. Letting stress get the best of you


Between your hormones, physical changes and discomforts, and concerns about your pregnancy, labor and delivery, and how your life may change, there’s a lot that can make you feel stressed out.

It’s well known that stress can affect your health, but during pregnancy, it’s even more important to pay attention to.

Not to give you more stress, but stress can lead to high blood pressure and studies suggest high levels of stress, anxiety and depression can increase the risk for pre-term birth.

Finding ways to better cope with stress can help you have a healthy, happy pregnancy and establish a healthy habit when you become a mom.

Carve out time for yourself every day to do deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or meditation, for example.

Go for a massage, take a yoga class, soak in the bath, listen to music, exercise and connect with friends.

For more tips, read 10 Tips For Being A Happy, Healthy Mom

If you’ve been feeling anxious, depressed or just not like yourself, seek help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Postpartum Support International are two resources.

15 Easy and Healthy Snacks for Breastfeeding Moms

15 Easy and Healthy Snacks for Breastfeeding Moms

When I was breastfeeding my kids, I was hungry All. The. Time.

Hungry as in: I’d eat my lunch while my daughter nursed—yes, on a plate with a fork.

Breastfeeding torches some serious calories (more on that later) so having easy and healthy snacks at the ready was also important for helping to satisfy my near-constant hunger.

In addition to a healthy diet, keeping a stash of quick, easy and healthy snacks you can grab whether you’re at home, work or on the go will stave off hunger, fuel your milk supply and give you plenty of energy despite all those sleepless nights.

How many calories does breastfeeding burn?


According to KellyMom.com, the amount of calories exclusively breastfeeding moms need depend on their weight, nutritional status and activity level.

On average, women should aim for an extra 300 to 500 calories above what they were consuming to maintain their pre-pregnancy weight. That would work out to 1 to 2 healthy snacks a day, but my advice is to eat for hunger and don’t worry too much about counting calories.

Learn more in this quick video.

Wondering what to eat? Here are 15 healthy snacks for breastfeeding to try.

1. Hard boiled eggs

Eggs are some of the best healthy snacks for breastfeeding because they’re loaded with protein—one large egg has nearly 7 grams. Protein satisfies hunger and gives you plenty of energy.

Hard boiled eggs are also quick and easy to make so you can boil a dozen and have enough for the week.

Pair an egg with some cut up raw veggies or whole grain crackers for a healthy and delicious snack.

 

2. Greek yogurt and fruit

High in protein, a great source of calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin B12, and rich in gut-friendly, immune-boosting probiotics, yogurt can be a healthy snack for breastfeeding.

When choosing a yogurt however, read labels and stick with brands that are low in sugar and made without artificial ingredients and preservatives.

With 17 grams of protein per serving, plain Greek yogurt is a great option. Add raspberries which are high in fiber, a dash of cinnamon and pure vanilla extract.

 

3. Kale chips

Green leafy vegetables are healthy because they’re loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Kale, in particular, is a superfood for breastfeeding moms. A good source of fiber protein, folate, iron, it’s also high in vitamins A, C, K, B6, calcium and potassium.

Toss a cup of washed kale with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in the over for 10 to 15 minutes a 350 degrees.

 

4. Popcorn

Unlike refined carbohydrates, whole grain carbohydrates like those in popcorn have fiber to stave off hunger and keep your blood sugar steady.

Popcorn takes only a few minutes to make and you can stash it in your pantry anytime hunger strikes.

 

5. Apples and nut butter

Pair an apple with your favorite nut butter for the perfect combination of fiber and protein to satisfy your hunger—and your tastebuds—in between meals.

 

6. Avocado toast

Avocado is a superfood, especially for breastfeeding moms.

With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, avocado is an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—the healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease later on in life.

A half cup has more than 2 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Spread some avocado on whole grain toast for a healthy, delicious and satisfying snack.

 

7. Edamame

Edamame (soybeans) are quick and easy and one of the best healthy snacks for breastfeeding.

An excellent source of protein, fiber, iron and magnesium, edamame are also high in calcium.

You can purchase edamame fresh or frozen, but look for those that are already shelled to save time. 

 

8. Cheese, crackers and fruit

Pair cheddar or ricotta on whole grain crackers and top with sliced strawberries for a sweet and savory snack.

 

9. Chia seed pudding

An excellent source of protein, fiber and healthy fats, chia seeds are an energy-boosting superfood for breastfeeding.

Chia seed pudding takes only a few minutes to whip up in your blender and you can store a batch in your refrigerator or in individual mason jars for grab and go snacks. Top with fruit for even more fiber and a hint of sweetness.

 

10. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They’re a good source of magnesium, the “calming mineral,” and zinc known for immune boosting and wound healing properties.

They also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and mood—a good thing if you’re at risk for postpartum depression.

Three tablespoons of pumpkin seeds also offer a good combination of protein (9 grams) and fiber (2 grams).

Add pumpkin seeds to yogurt, on top of salad or eat them solo.

11. Green smoothie

One of the best ways to get several vegetables in at one time, especially when you’re short on time is to blend up a green smoothie.

To keep the sugar content low, stick with 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit. You can then add in chia seeds, protein powder or a nut butter, for example.

12. Homemade trail mix

Store-bought trail mix can be a quick and easy option, but read labels carefully since most are packed with salty nuts, a lot of high-sugar dried fruit, “yogurt” covered raisins, chocolate chips and M&Ms.

Making your own trail mix only takes a few minutes and you get to control the ingredients. Combine almonds, sunflower seeds and raisins for a healthy and delicious breastfeeding snack.

13. Hummus and carrots

Another favorite snack combination of mine is raw baby carrots with hummus.

Carrots are a good source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate, iron, potassium and fiber: 1/2 cup has nearly 3 grams

Pair carrots with hummus, which has nearly 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup, and you have a great snack.

14. No-bake energy bites

No-bake energy bites may take a few minutes to make, but they’re well worth it and you can make a large batch and freeze them.

Combine ingredients like rolled oats, bananas, dates, nut butter, raisins and seeds. Need a recipe? Here are 7.

15. Celery and tuna

Celery is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, K, folate and potassium. It’s also high in fiber: a 1/2 cup has nearly 2 grams.

Add some tuna (or canned salmon) and you have a fiber and protein-packed snack.

Tomatoes and mozzarella

Tomatoes are a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, choline and fiber: one cup has more than 2 grams. Add some protein with sliced mozzarella cheese and you’ve got an easy and healthy snack.

8 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

8 Things No One Told Me About Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other about breastfeeding in general and I certainly didn’t give much thought to whether I’d breastfeed or not.

That all changed one day when I read a fact sheet about the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers. Within 5 minutes, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to breastfeed.”

Shortly thereafter, I read a book about breastfeeding and thought I’d be all set for when my child was born, but little did I know how much more there was to learn and how little I was prepared for it all.

The truth is that although breastfeeding is natural, it doesn’t come so naturally to most women. It takes commitment, physical energy, mental fortitude, and flexibility for it to work. I should know—I breastfed two babies, each for a year.

There were other things no one told me about breastfeeding and I had to learn on my own. Here are 8.

1. You need help

After I gave birth to my first child, the lactation consultants in the hospital paid me a few visits. Everything seemed to be going well but I wasn’t quite sure if I was doing it right and it was also painful.

It wasn’t until they encouraged me to set up a private appointment with them a few days later that everything seemed to make sense and became a lot easier. They taught me how to relax, position my baby, and get the latch right.

Two years later when I had my second child, I once again met with a lactation consultant after I was discharged because I was worried my milk supply was low. After I fed my baby, the lactation consultant weighed her, talked to me about my concerns, and assured me everything was fine.

Whether it’s a lactation consultant, La Leche League, or another mom, breastfeeding moms need information, guidance, and support.


2. You might be hungry all the time

Although it’s not a hard and fast rule, moms who are exclusively breastfeeding need an extra 300-500 calories in their diets. Breastfeeding is a lot like a sweat session at the gym: your body is working hard to produce milk and you’re burning a lot of calories.

When I was breastfeeding, I felt like I was hungry all the time and eating non-stop. As a new mom of course, it was hard to find time to sit down to a meal so often times, I would multi-task and eat over my daughter as she breastfed.


3. You can pump too much

When your milk supply is low, lactation consultants tell you to pump but my milk supply wasn’t low and I actually think I pumped too much.

My first child was a good eater (she still is), and I had a really good milk supply and my breasts were constantly engorged especially in the early months of breastfeeding. Everyday, I’d effortlessly pump enough for a bottle so my husband could take a feeding at night. But when she started to sleep through the night, I continued to pump.

Eventually, I had a freezer full of milk for no apparent reason. Although I thought I was pumping to alleviate the engorgement, I think I inadvertently increased my milk supply.


4. It won’t be easy

Make no mistake: breastfeeding takes commitment and it’s a 24/7 job, especially in the beginning.

When my second child came along, breastfeeding became even more inconvenient because I had a toddler to keep up with too. I wanted desperately to follow the Baby Wise strategy which worked swimmingly for my first child, but wasn’t working out that well for my second who would cry the minute I put her in the bassinet and wanted to nurse all the time. With the help of the lactation consultant, I realized that wasn’t going to happen and some babies want to nurse—a lot.

I also started to feel like I could never get out of the house or go anywhere since I didn’t have breast milk reserves and I didn’t want to feed my daughter formula unless it was necessary—like the time I had a cat scan and couldn’t breastfeed.

5. You might be up against other challenges

While I was breastfeeding, I had postpartum depression (something I wasn’t diagnosed with until much later), I was dealing with Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex (D-MER), and I had a bout with mastitis.

I also made the decision of having my second child’s frenulum clipped because she had a slight tongue-tie which made breastfeeding painful. Although I knew it had to be done if I was going to continue breastfeeding, watching her cry, and the doctor walk in and out of the room in 5 minutes, was tough. When I checked out and was told said procedure was $500, I nearly cried myself.

Of course, there was also work, managing my household and everything else life throws at you, which makes breastfeeding that much more challenging.


6. You won’t need a nursing cover for long

With my first child, I covered up while I breastfed and even went into a separate room when we had guests over or were invited to someone else’s house.

When you’re whipping out your breasts every few hours, however, that practice quickly fades. Soon enough, I breastfed in front of family, friends, and in public.

Come baby #2 and there was nothing to hide. In fact, eight weeks after giving birth, I found myself in the bridal suite for a family wedding pumping in a cocktail dress while my husband guarded the door.


7.  Sex gets interesting

Due to low levels of estrogen, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. If/when you do have the big ‘O,’ your breasts can leak spray everywhere thanks to oxytocin, the hormone responsible for both milk letdown and orgasm.

I’m thankful to have a husband who could care less and who finds the humor in almost any situation, but feeling like I had lost all control of my body was an understatement.


8. You might have regret or feel grateful

The definition of breastfeeding success or achieving breastfeeding goals looks different for each woman. We’re all unique, have different challenges, and have varying beliefs and views about breastfeeding. There are no hard and fast rules: what works for you may not work for another mom.

For me, I felt grateful to be able to have breastfed both babies for as long as I did. For working moms who have to travel to an office, travel for work, clock hours or don’t have a traditional office like a friend of mine who pumped in her car in NYC garages in between meetings with clients, breastfeeding can be downright impossible.

Despite many challenges, I felt accomplished and proud that I stuck with it and gave my children what I believe is the best start in life.

Do I wish I would have been more prepared, had more support, and known what breastfeeding would really be like? Sure. But when it comes to parenting, you’re never really prepared, you make a ton of mistakes, and you learn as you go along. Ignorance is bliss.

 

Are there things you wish you would have known before you started to breastfeed? Drop your thoughts in the comments.

9 Food Rules For Breastfeeding

9 Food Rules For Breastfeeding

You already know that breastfeeding is a healthy choice for you and your baby, but what you might wonder about are things like what foods you should eat and avoid, how many calories you should be getting, and if you can drink coffee and alcohol.

What may surprise you is that there aren’t any hard and fast food rules for breastfeeding. In fact, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy your diet is, your baby will still get what he needs.

Nevertheless, eating enough calories, the right types of foods and getting key nutrients in your diet will give you the energy to keep up your milk supply, keep up with caring for your baby, and support your overall health and wellness.

Here are 9 food rules for breastfeeding to consider.

Rule #1: Don’t diet

Perhaps one of the most important food rules for breastfeeding is to avoid restricting calories. Although you might be ready to lose the baby weight, dieting could affect your milk supply and deplete your energy levels.

If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you need an extra 450 to 500 calories a day to support your milk supply so make a point to get them in.

Rule #2: Drink plenty of water

A misnomer about breastfeeding is that drinking plenty of water is important for your milk supply, but upping your intake of H2O actually doesn’t increase your milk supply, according to Kelly Bonyata, an international board certified lactation consultant and founder of KellyMom.com

What drinking plenty of water can do however, is help prevent you from feeling even more fatigued than you probably already do.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (previously the Institute of Medicine), says the adequate intake (AI) for water while breastfeeding is 3.1 liters but notes there’s no data to suggest that kidney function and the amount of hydration breastfeeding moms need is any different than moms who are not breastfeeding.

Rather than keeping tabs on how much water you’re drinking, a good rule of thumb is to drink for thirst. Keep a water bottle near you during the day to make sure you’re staying well-hydrated and be mindful of symptoms of dehydration, which include dark urine, constipation, and fatigue.

Don’t like plain water? Add slices of cucumber or strawberry for a hint of flavor. Water from other sources count too: fruits and vegetables, soups, juices, milk, tea and coffee.

Rule #3: Make protein a priority

Breastfeeding places high demands for protein on your body so it’s important to make sure you’re getting plenty at every meal and snack you eat. Eating protein will also stabilize your blood sugar, give you energy, and help you lose the baby weight.

Excellent sources of protein include:

  • Lean meats
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Tempeh, tofu and soybeans
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters

 

Rule #4: Get DHA

DHA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet is important for your baby’s brain development. Fish is one of the highest sources of DHA and studies show eating fish can ward off postpartum depression too.

You’ll want to avoid high-mercury fish, which include, shark, marlin, king mackerel, orange roughy, swordfish, and tilefish. Also, limit your consumption of albacore (white) tuna to 6 ounces a week.

Fish that are considered safe because they have lower levels of mercury include salmon, anchovy, catfish, clam, crab, cod, oysters, sardines, scallops, shrimp, and canned light tuna.

Rule #5: Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D

Your baby will draw all of the nutrition he needs from your breast milk, including your calcium stores, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough for your body.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine recommend lactating women get 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D.

Dairy is an obvious source of calcium, but green leafy vegetables, fish, almonds, sesame seeds and fortified cereals, breads and orange juice, are also good sources of calcium.

Get vitamin D from fortified milk, fatty fish like salmon or the good ‘ol sun. If you’re deficient in vitamin D, a supplement can also help.

Rule #6: Curb caffeine

Sleepless nights and 24/7 feedings will have you craving coffee, but babies are sensitive to caffeine so it’s a good idea to cut back while you’re breastfeeding. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says 200 milligrams (mg) a day of caffeine is likely safe for breastfeeding moms.

If you’re unsure how much caffeine is in your cup of joe, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a handy caffeine chart. Also, keep tabs on other sources of caffeine like decaf coffee, tea, chocolate, and some snacks.

Rule #7: Eat iron-rich foods

Getting adequate levels of iron in your diet while you’re breastfeeding can prevent iron-deficient anemia and ensure you have plenty of energy to care for your baby.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron is 9mg but talk to your doctor about how much you need especially if your menstrual periods have returned.

Iron-rich foods include beef, oysters, beans and legumes, spinach, and iron-fortified cereals.

Rule #8: Add lots of herbs and spices to your meals

If you enjoy herbs and spices, adding them to your meals can help your baby to love them later on and may even prevent picky eating.

According to a June 2017 review in the journal Current Nutrition Reports, the foods moms eat during pregnancy and while they’re breastfeeding affect the taste and nutrition of their breast milk, which in turn shapes their babies’ flavor and food preferences.

Add cilantro to green smoothies, turmeric to stews, and cinnamon to your morning oatmeal, for example.

Rule #9: Alcohol is OK, but on occasion

A glass of wine every once in awhile is considered safe while you’re breastfeeding, but it probably shouldn’t be something you do every night and you should limit it to one drink which includes:

·      6 ounces of wine

·      12 ounces of beer

·      1.5 ounces of liquor

Although conventional wisdom has promoted the “pump and dump” strategy, there’s no need. Alcohol leaves your breast milk at it leaves your bloodstream. ACOG recommends moms wait at last 2 hours after having a drink before resuming breastfeeding.

7 Breastfeeding Myths

7 Breastfeeding Myths

Breastfeeding is one of the most frequent talked about topics for new moms. Despite all of the information available, there are so many ideas breastfeeding moms think are true but are actually myths.

Let’s face it: when you become a new mom, you’re clueless.

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I didn’t give much thought to what breastfeeding would be like. My perception of breastfeeding was that it was natural so how hard could it be?

Little did I know that although I didn’t have a lot of breastfeeding challenges, it still affected my body and my mind and it wasn’t as easy as it seemed.

Like many moms, I worried whether my milk supply was low, if my baby was getting enough and if that excruciating nipple pain was actually normal. As I continued to breastfeed, research and write about breastfeeding at Fox News, I was amazed by all of the ideas moms are told—and start to believe—about breastfeeding that simply aren’t true.

Here are 7 of the most common breastfeeding myths and the real truths.


Breastfeeding myth #1: Breastfeeding is easy.


Next to pregnancy and giving birth, breastfeeding is certainly the most amazing, natural thing your body can do but breastfeeding isn’t all butterflies and roses.

Like anything when you’re a mom (new or seasoned), there’s a learning curve. You can’t expect to put your baby to the breast and ba-boom!, everything is easygoing. You have to make sure your latch and position are correct, your baby is gulping, swallowing, feeding regularly and gaining weight.

If your nipples are inverted or your baby is tongue-tied, for example, breastfeeding can be challenging. And unlike bottle-feeding, your baby has to work harder to get the milk, you may find that you’re not breastfeeding according to a schedule and you might have to breastfeed more frequently.

The key to make breastfeeding easier is to get support—through La Leche League, a new mom’s group or from a friend who can help you out.


Breastfeeding myth #2: Low milk supply is common.

How many times has a mom told you she stopped breastfeeding because her milk supply was low and her baby was hungry all the time?

Low milk supply is actually one of the most common reasons moms throw in towel early or supplement with formula. In fact, 49 percent of mothers said they stopped breastfeeding after two months because breast milk alone wasn’t enough to satisfy their babies.

What’s interesting is that the data on moms who have low milk supply isn’t clear. Rachel O’Brien, a lactation consultant in Sudbury, Massachusetts has a great blog series on low milk supply I recommend you check out. 

When you feed your baby a bottle, you know how much he ate but when you’re breastfeeding, it’s not so easy. Some of the ways to tell that your milk supply is just fine include your baby’s gaining weight, he has a certain amount of weight diapers a day and he’s hitting his developmental milestones.

If you’re uncertain, make an appointment with a lactation consultant who can weigh your baby right after you feed him to make sure he’s getting enough breast milk.


Breastfeeding myth #3: Breastfeeding is painful.


You may have read horror stories of moms who say their nipples are cracked and bleeding and breastfeeding was painful.

Yet when your latch is correct, breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful. One reason it might be painful is tongue-tie, which from experience, is very painful.

If breastfeeding is painful for you and you’re uncertain why, talk to a lactation consultant.


Breastfeeding myth #4: Breastfed babies eat on a schedule.

 

During the first few months you might feel like you’re constantly breastfeeding and you’d be right.

When I had my second child, I saw a lactation consultant and told her the Babywise methodology, the eat, play, sleep schedule that had worked perfectly with my older daughter wasn’t working at all with my second. Instead, she wanted to eat all. the. time. and I was one tired mama.

Unlike formula-fed babies who eat on a schedule and can go longer between feedings, breast milk is digested quickly and the truth is newborns eat all the time.


Breastfeeding myth #5: The foods you eat can give your baby gas.


When my daughter was a newborn it seemed that she would often have gas, especially right before bedtime. I used to think maybe it was what I was eating, since I usually eat green leafy vegetables and beans but research doesn’t back it up. So go ahead and eat healthy—it’s good for your baby too.

There could however, be other reasons why your baby has gas that may or may not have to do with breastfeeding, according to KellyMom.com.


Breastfeeding myth #6: Breastfeeding will help you lose the baby weight.

 

The day I left the hospital with my first child, the neonatal nurse told me if I continued to breastfeed, “the weight would melt right off.” That was good news for a mama who had gained too much weight during pregnancy.

She was right. I exclusively breastfed, ate healthy and exercised regularly and I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight in just a few months.

Although breastfeeding can help you lose weight, how much you’ll lose and how fast depends on how long you exclusively breastfeed for, how much you gained during your pregnancy, as well as your diet and exercise habits after you give birth.


Breastfeeding myth #7: If you drink, you’ll have to pump and dum


If you want to have a drink when you’re breastfeeding, you may have heard that you have to “pump and dump” but that’s not true.

In fact, the same amount of alcohol that clears from your bloodstream is the same amount that leaves your breast milk so pumping your breast milk makes no difference at all. It takes about 2 hours to metabolize one serving of alcohol, like a 4-ounce glass of wine.

What you should know however, is that newborns will metabolize alcohol differently than older babies. You can use Milkscreen test strips, but they will only tell you if alcohol is in your breast milk, not how much.

Of course, drinking while breastfeeding is your own personal choice but if you do choose to, the safest way is to have only one drink and enjoy it right after you feed your baby.

5 Real Reasons Moms Stop Breastfeeding

5 Real Reasons Moms Stop Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t give much thought to whether I would breastfeed or not. Yet amidst all the parenting books and information I read when I was pregnant, I came across a fact sheet and learned about all the amazing benefits of breastfeeding. And right after I read it, I told my husband that I was committed to breastfeed. No. Matter. What.

I’m the type of person that follows through on a committment come hell or high water.

I’m grateful that breastfeeding was smooth sailing for me after I got some support from the lactation consultants at the hospital. My milk supply was more than adequate—I even had a freezer full of pumped milk—and my daughter even slept through the night by 3 months.

 

Yet I know not all moms are so lucky.

Moms know breastfeeding is one of the best things they can do for their baby’s health and their own. Like childbirth, it’s one of the most natural things a mother’s body is made for but it doesn’t always come naturally or easily. In fact, studies show only about 50 percent of moms are still breastfeeding at 6 months.

So why is that? Here are some of the reasons I think moms stop breastfeeding.

 

1. Breastfeeding is a part-time job

Don’t get me wrong, pulling out your breast and putting your baby next to you is much easier than having to get up in the middle night to prepare a bottle.

But breastfeeding takes more time and more patience than bottle feeding. When I was breastfeeding, I always felt like I was “on-call,” especially in the beginning when there are 8 to 12 feedings a day. In the first few months, my husband would wake up to feed our daughter a bottle of pumped milk but I often woke up too to pump so my milk supply wouldn’t dwindle.

If you’re away from your baby, you still have to pump. And some moms can’t go far because their babies won’t take a bottle.

2. Breastfeeding changes your breasts and your body


My breasts are so small I’m barely an A cup. But when I was breastfeeding, I couldn’t believe how large my breasts were—porn-star big.

Because I was producing a lot of milk, my breasts would leak when my baby cried, when another baby cried and when I even thought about my baby. My milk would let down and come out so fast my daughter would often let go of the latch to catch a breath.

Since breastfeeding also causes estrogen levels to be low, sex can be challenging, even painful. And when you do have sex and climax, you breasts can leak then too.

 

3. Moms have to return to work


I was lucky to be able to work from home when I had my kids and have a babysitter at my house. If you work from home, you’ll probably have more flexibility to feed your baby or pump. Although the Affordable Care Act allows women the time and space to pump at work, the rules vary by state and many loopholes exist.

 

And what about moms who have long commutes or don’t have a place to pump? Like one of my friends who used to work as a pharmaceutical representative. Since she didn’t have an office and was always on the road, she pumped in her car in New York City parking garages in between sales calls!

4. Feeling sexy goes out the door overnight

 

There are beautiful satin and lace nursing bras that make you feel sexy when you’re not nursing your baby, but let’s be honest: those soft cup nursing bras and disposable nursing pads are what most moms are sporting.

I wore a nursing bra 24/7 for a year (see #2).

5. Breastfeeding can make you sick


When I was breastfeeding, I had a bout of mastitis and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. Not only did I have a large lump in my breast, but I felt like someone ran over me with a Mack truck.

I also battled a sneaky condition called D-MER and high levels of anxiety and nausea when my baby started solids and when she finally weaned for good.

These are just some of the reasons moms stop breastfeeding. Health, lifestyle, employment, access to healthcare and support networks are different for each woman.

Instead of shaming women for throwing in the towel early, we need to understand the reasons for doing so and give them the support they need regardless of their decisions.

Did you stop breastfeeding before a year? Why?

 

 

 

 

7 Superfoods For Breastfeeding Moms

7 Superfoods For Breastfeeding Moms

When I was breastfeeding my babies, I was constantly hungry because I was burning some major calories, much like I would after working out at the gym. In fact, experts say moms who are exclusively breastfeeding need between 300 and 500 extra calories a day.

When you have a new baby, having the time to eat a meal, much less take a shower, is near to impossible.

Yet it’s not only important to make sure you eat enough to keep up your milk supply, give you energy and help you shed the baby weight, but what you eat and the quality of your food are also important.

7 Superfoods for breastfeeding moms

 

1. Eggs

 

I eat eggs almost every morning because they’re packed with protein to keep me going all morning. Eggs also contain choline, lutein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate.

Scramble up one egg and two egg whites for a healthy breakfast, make a healthy quiche or frittata for dinner or cook a bunch of hard-boiled eggs for grab and go snacks.

 

2. Almonds

 

When you’re busy with your baby or out and about, grabbing a handful of almonds is a healthy way to squelch hunger. Almonds, and other nuts and seeds are great sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats.

 

3. Broccoli

 

Green leafy vegetables like broccoli at most meals is a great way for you to get the vitamins you need including A, C, E and K as well as calcium and lutein.

In fact, a recent study found that people who higher levels of lutein, found in green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach as well as avocados and eggs, may ward off cognitive decline.

They’re also low in calories but filled with fiber to help you feel satiated. Eat them raw or cooked, they’re delicious in any dish.

 

4. Salmon

 

Fresh, frozen or canned, salmon is a healthy option for breastfeeding moms. Salmon is a great source of protein, vitamin B12 and D and omega-3 fatty acids.

 

5. Quinoa

 

Whole grains are an excellent source of B vitamins and minerals and fiber to fill you up. Quinoa is one of the best types of whole grains you can eat because it also has protein—one cup contains 8 grams! I also love quinoa because you can make it for any meal—including breakfast

 

6. Beef

 

When you’re breastfeeding, you have an increased need for zinc. Beef is not only rich in zinc but it’s a good source of iron and B vitamins to give you energy. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can get zinc in other foods like pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.

 

7. Beans

 

Beans and legumes are excellent sources of minerals, phytochemicals, protein and fiber. I like to soak and cook beans but if you don’t have the time, canned is fine too. Beans are also versatile in any meal—fajitas, chili, as a snack or even with your morning eggs.