What Do I Need to Know About Breastfeeding?

Dr. Kate with her little one back in the day

What Do I Need to Know About Breastfeeding? Breastfeeding can be an almost magical bonding experience between a mother and her child that also provides all the nourishment baby needs to grow and thrive. Still, sometimes breastfeeding an infant can feel impossible.

So, now your baby has arrived! I hope you are feeling amazing and have enjoyed a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.  If your pregnancy or delivery has left you depleted, I hope this blog provides some helpful tools to feel better.  

As a new mom, you are most likely getting lots of friendly advice on how to keep this little one healthy. One topic that is sure to come up is the topic of breastfeeding. While everyone has an opinion on this topic, know that this is a personal decision that only you can make.

Dr. Kate believes in supportive healthcare, meaning she supports your decisions about what is best for you. For many women, breastfeeding is a normal, natural process. For other women breastfeeding is something that doesn’t come quite as naturally.  We highly recommend using a lactation consultant if you want to breastfeed.   

If you aren’t sure what you want to do, keep reading.

What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding has benefits for your baby. Breastfeeding provides essential nutrients, protects against some infections, and helps increase your baby’s chance of survival in the first year.2 Breastfeeding your baby can help prevent respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, and childhood obesity.3 Research also shows that the skin to skin contact that occurs as part of breastfeeding is beneficial for you both.

So, did you know that you also benefit from breastfeeding?  Besides what you already know—you experience an extra calorie burn from feeding the baby—there are many other benefits. You also get the satisfaction of caring for your child in the most natural of ways. Breastfeeding helps with the release of good hormones promoting a sense of well-being and attachment to your baby. Breastfeeding can also provide some pretty solid health benefits. Mothers who breastfeed typically recover from childbirth quicker and easier.4 Studies show reduced risk of breast  and ovarian cancer in women who have breastfeed.5 Breastfeeding has also been associated with lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease.6

One benefit you might not have considered is the significant cost savings in using breast milk over formula! With the new expense of diapers, this is a benefit most overlook!

Your Breastfeeding Diet

The first months postpartum, you may be exhausted and low on sleep. This state and stage is sometimes called the 4th trimester. In this state, it may not occur to you that your diet may be affecting your baby. Just like you needed optimum nutrition for your health to conceive, carry, and deliver this miracle, maintaining this level of excellent health is just as important now. You will need optimum nutrition not only for your health, but also for the health of your new baby.

If your first impulse was to restrict calories to try and get the baby weight off as soon as possible, know that this plan may backfire. Now is the time to actually increase your calories with highly nutritionally dense foods.7 Don’t forget that breastfeeding burns extra calories and you need them for energy right now.

You do need a special breastfeeding diet to ensure optimal health for you and your baby. While you were pregnant, you were careful because you were eating for two. Well guess what? You still are! It’s time for dark leafy greens and bright vibrant colored fruits and vegetables. Consider oatmeal for breakfast. A warm satisfying bowl can help raise iron levels and lower cholesterol – both of which are great for milk supply. Add in some whole grains paired with lean protein and both you and your baby will thrive. Your protein sources should be from eggs, chicken, or lean beef. Even nuts and seeds can add to your protein intake, and they are easy to grab during this busy time of life. Fish is still a wonder food, but cut down on it now as to avoid the pollutants that come along with some fish products.

We offer our clients postpartum meal plans to recoup from labor & delivery and help make HIGH-QUALITY BREAST MILK.  Life is full with a newborn, so this meal plan is geared towards easy and quick recipes that will allow you to eat well while still maintaining focus on your new family member.  We also included plenty of double recipes to use as leftovers to save you more time.  Enjoy this plan for at least a month to create more ease around nourishing yourself! This plan is CALCIUM-RICH, VITAMIN D-RICH, VITAMIN B12-RICH, and IRON-RICH.  All Meal Plans are free of Gluten and Cow-Dairy.

Don’t forget to keep drinking lots of water. With all that your body has gone through recently, you may have decided to cut back on drinking water to avoid trips to the bathroom. This is not the time. Dehydration can cause you to feel tired, put you at risk for developing a cold, and cause other imbalances in your body.8 Your body needs pure, clean water at this time to help you feel better.  

If you were a client of Dr. Kate’s prior to or during your pregnancy, follow her healthy meal plans to ensure plenty of healthy milk supply for you and your baby. If you aren’t already a client, schedule a visit to talk about your diet. Your nutritional  balance is so important for your health at this critical moment in your life and your baby’s life. Water is also helpful for a plentiful milk supply. The usual 8 glasses are recommended for everyone but make sure you actually drink them.

If I am Breastfeeding, Should I Take Supplements or Vitamins?

In a word, YES! Just make sure they are the right ones. A prenatal vitamin will ensure you are getting the vitamins, minerals, and folic acid you need while breastfeeding. If you were already taking the Thorne brand of prenatals, it is safe to continue.

Plant-based diets are becoming more and more common. If you are on a plant based diet, you might want to consider supplementing with the Thorne brand of B-12. Babies who breastfeed from mothers who are lacking B-12 might show developmental delays.8 You can stay true to your lifestyle, just make sure you supplement to give your baby every chance of a healthy childhood.

While limiting your fish intake due to toxins, you don’t want to skip the benefits of fish oil all together. You still want all the benefits that an oily fish can give you. Fish oil is particularly important during breastfeeding as it helps with cognitive function.9 We only recommend the Thorne brand because we not only trust their high quality, but also love that they have had all the impurities removed from their fish oil products.

What if You Choose Not to Breastfeed?

While there are benefits to breastfeeding, this option is not right for all women. There are lots of reasons why you may not choose to breastfeed:

  1. You have been diagnosed with depression or postpartum depression and need help in the way of antidepressants. Your mental and emotional health are the priority. Remember the air mask on the airplane. You have to put your air mask on first before helping your child.  There is no shame in making sure you are the best mother for your child, even if that doesn’t include breastfeeding.
  2. You have inverted nipples or have had a breast reduction. Sometimes biology just doesn’t go your way. If after the team of nurses leave and you are still struggling talk with your doctor about options. Understand that this is just the beginning of life not necessarily going the way you thought it would. You will soon find that those little ones rarely are predictable in how they will behave.   We recommend talking to a lactation consultant.  
  3. You tried and you just can’t. If you gave it your best there is no reason to breastfeed if the entire process is making you miserable. After weeks of exhaustion, pain, and frustration it may be time to just give your doctor and lactation consultant a call.

These are just a few of the common reasons why you may choose not to breastfeed. Remember the important thing is taking care of and bonding with your newborn. This can happen whether you choose to breastfeed or not. 

A word about stress. No doubt about it, this is a stressful time in your life. Make sure to sleep as much as you can, consider some relaxing music, and maybe adding a diffuser in your room to add to some light essential oils to help your body relax after this exciting moment. Deep cleansing breaths are a key essential part of your day now – and in the days to come. When you feel ready, consider some light stretches and a few yoga poses to decompress your body.

There will never be one right way to be a mother. And despite many relatives’ opinions and articles to the contrary, it is simply not true.  You are as unique as a flower and so is your baby. You have embarked on a new unwritten path together. It will be full of many health related decisions.  Those decisions will be personal and as unique as your new baby’s fingerprint. Remember Dr. Kate is here to support you as you begin your new journey as a parent. Get in touch if you have any questions.