Breastfeeding can be a really rocky road for a lot of women, and admittedly it is really difficult the first couple of months as your nipples get used to a small infant suckling. It is important to be prepared for these things when your approaching the world of breastfeeding to help you feel more comfortable in your journey, because if you stick to it, it can be the most wonderfully rewarding and beautiful thing in the world.
- Most people, (including myself at the time), do not know that breast milk mostly consists of glucose. In fact it is made up of over 200 different sugar molecules that are vital to developing the bacteria in your child’s gut for healthy digestion. Our bodies, as well as a newborns, thrive on natural glucose as it is vital for brain development and providing nutrients and energy to our body for its daily immune functions
- Breast milk is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic and helps to fight of respiratory infections, ear infections and more. Did you ever hear that you can use saved breast milk as medicine to help fight off things like pink eye (when used as eye drops) or to help soothe a sunburn (when used in a bath). It is some seriously magical stuff
- Newborns can feed anywhere from 20-45 minutes at a time in the beginning and they can feed every 2-3 hours and sometimes less.
- Babies do not need as much milk as you think in the first few days of life. The first milk that leaves your breasts for your newborn is called colostrum and it is a bright yellow color and can be very thick, but sometimes it can be thin and watery, not to be alarmed, this is normal. The flow of colostrum is generally slow so that baby can learn to nurse. You can expect to see colostrum anywhere from 3-4 days and then you may see a change in your breasts as they become more firm. This is a sign that your milk supply is increasing and changes to breast milk.
- Even if your baby is sleeping between feeds and is going to miss a 2-3 hour feed, wake them to nurse. This helps both baby get more milk and you produce more milk as your providing your body with a supply and demand.
- Pacifiers and bottles may confuse baby in the first few days of life if you are trying to stick to nursing. This is often called nipple confusion. Try to avoid giving baby a pacifier or a bottle when beginning nursing so you can have a more successful bond and latch with baby.
- Sleeping next to baby can help with breast milk production
- Breast milk changes nearly every hour and really changes if your baby gets sick. It is important to stick to nursing if you or baby is sick because your milk will provide baby with what he or she needs to help them heal. Using skin to skin methods can really help with milk change as well.
- Breast milk contains one of the lowest amounts of protein of any foods.
Diet and Herbs
It is really important to have a balanced diet not only when your pregnant but when you are breastfeeding as well. Lots of moms try to go right to a diet after pregnant while trying to breastfeed and lose their milk because they are not eating enough calories or drinking enough water. I cannot stress enough how important food and water are during your breastfeeding days, not only is it healthy for you but it is healthy for baby as well. So here are a few things that you can do to help ensure your baby is getting what they need and you are getting what you need to keep strong and healthy milk.
- Red Raspberry leaf tea is not only an excellent pregnancy tonic but a wonderful tea for breast milk production. You can drink this tea iced or hot and enjoy up to 3-4 cups a day
- Fennel tea is said to help with breast milk production, and although I seen more of an increase with red raspberry leaf tea, I still seen some results with fennel as well.
- Drink lots of water. When I say drink lots of water it might even seem like an understatement as it is super important to stay hydrated to ensure you are producing a good milk supply. Water is so important.
- Eat lots of fruit. Fruit for many reasons is not only excellent for you, but it is excellent for breast milk as well. Fruit is made up of 85-95% water content and the rest of it is your essential vitamins, minerals and healthy glucose. The glucose that is vital for brain, nerve and immune function. Fruit sugar is not the same as refined sugar that has been stripped of nutrients. Fruit sugar contains important, vital nutrients for your body and the glucose from fruit does not react the same way in the body as refined sugars. Fruit glucose leaves the stomach within 3 minutes and does not even hit the digestive tract. So please do not be afraid of fruit, embrace the creation of fruit and indulge in as much as you want because it will NOT make you fat or diabetic.
- Eat enough calories. As I mentioned before, a lot of women worry about getting right to a diet after birth but it really is not the best thing to do if you are trying to successfully breastfeed. You are feeding two, so your going to become hungry more often, and do not fight the hunger with just a handful of nuts and a small salad. If your going to do that eat a large bowl of salad full of protein from nuts, legumes, tofu or beans. Good calories, carbs and fats for your body and for baby as well.
- Avoid drinking too much milk or eating too many dairy products. On the contrary to what most breastfeeding websites say, where you should avoid eating cabbage, broccoli and beans because they will make you and baby gassy, this goes for dairy products. Baby is building healthy gut flora through your milk and when you mix in the hormones from another milk or food product you may be causing an imbalance in hormones all together. Besides, dairy products can upset babies tummy and you might even find they may or may not have an allergic reaction. Eating cabbage, broccoli and beans is not something to be afraid of, eat intuitively and pay attention to what you eat. Each person and baby is different so different foods may affect baby differently.
Milk storage and Other things to consider
- Freezing milk is super easy and you can store the milk for up to 6-8 months in a regular freezer and up to a year in a deep freezer.
- NEVER EVER EVER use a microwave to heat up breast milk. It will kill all the living enzymes in the milk that are vital for baby’s health.
- Expect “let downs” and I don’t mean this as an emotional let down. A let down is actually the process in which your milk flow and demand is increasing to feed baby. Let downs are a great sign that your milk production is flowing along and your baby is getting what they need. Let downs can feel like cramps in your breasts so do not be alarmed if it begins to feel uncomfortable. This is completely normal and gets easier with time.
- When you are experiencing a let down, you may also experience another leaky breast, so be sure that you are wearing breast pads in your nursing bra. Breast pads are very important for public reasons. I cannot express how embarrassing it is to be talking to someone with wet circles around your breasts while your out in public.
- Pumping if you find that you are having an imbalance in milk production, whether it be too much or not enough, make sure that you are also using a breast pump. Pumping milk can help increase milk production by increasing demand and you can use the extra milk for a day off or a day at work when you aren’t around in the future.
- Chapped nipples suck! There are plenty of things that are on the market to help sooth chapped nipples, some use coconut oil and others prefer lanolin oil for their nipples. But always be sure it is something that is safe, non-toxic and organic for baby too.