There are a lot of things to consider when breastfeeding. Its sometimes hard to think about an additional 6 months to a year of careful consideration of your own health, especially after spending 9+ months of paranoia about your health during pregnancy. However, if you can put in the time and effort during the next 6 months to a year, you can help give your baby the best chance at a healthy future. Here are the top five things that I tell the new moms that come into my clinic.
#1 Breastfeed for at least 6 months
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year of life. This is because the properties of breast milk cannot be duplicated exactly in formula, and contains important immune benefits that will both protect your baby and help to keep allergies at bay.
#2 Eat a healthy diet
Limit processed foods and eat plenty of veggies, fruit, lean protein, and good fats. Focus on getting a good protein source (nuts/lentils/fish/chicken/fermented soy) and a veggie every time you eat. Researchers are constantly finding other chemicals in processed foods and containers that have caused concern. By eating whole, real food, you can avoid many of these concerns.
#3 Avoid alcohol/caffeine/drugs
Same rules apply as they did when you were pregnant, however, the rules tend to be a little looser while breastfeeding. Your breast milk is affected while you are under the influence of a substance, but there is not a need to “pump and dump” unless you are uncomfortable. For example, if you have a few drinks, simply wait at least an hour per drink before resuming breastfeeding. Keep in mind that this is a loose guideline and abstaining from alcohol is best.
#4 Don’t give up!
Breastfeeding can be challenging – especially for mom’s who return to work soon after delivery. Even if you are only able to pump a little every day, you can still combine that breast milk with formula feeding and give you baby the benefits of the breast milk. You can also do a morning and evening nursing session while with your baby.
#5 Consider your diet if your baby is having gas, tummy troubles, diaper rash, or eczema.
The most common problem is dairy. I always recommend 3 weeks of removing all dairy products as a beginning trial. There are other sensitivities, but starting a restrictive diet is something that needs to be monitored by a health care professional to make sure you are getting the right combination of ingredients. Supplements can be helpful – especially Colic Care – both for mom and baby to help increase the good bacterial in the GI tract.
Remember that breastfeeding is worth it! Please visit La Leche League at: http://www.llli.org/ for helpful information and local chapters. Finding support from other mom’s can be a lifesaver.