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 through 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.

Unfortunately, the data simply doesn’t add up, according to lactation consultant Rachel O’Brien. And sources I’ve interviewed have told me most women don’t have a low milk supply.

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 weight 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.