Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the healthiest and most natural ways to feed your baby, and it’s by far the least expensive — formula isn’t cheap! Getting started can come with some difficulties, though, which can feel disheartening to a mom who is already tired and adjusting to life with a newborn. Thankfully, this is a well-traveled path, and a wealth of available information as well as input from supportive professionals like a hospital lactation consultant or doula can help you to prepare for success.

What You Need To Breastfeed

Of course, since breastfeeding is a natural process, all you really need is you and your babe. However, there are products designed to make your life much easier during this time, and having these on hand can make a big difference in your comfort level.

  • Nipple creams: Dry, cracked, and sore nipples can be very hard to keep comfortable, and they make breastfeeding feel quite painful. A hydrating nipple cream can help to soothe irritated and chapped skin, restoring your comfort.
  • Nursing pads: Leaky breasts are a common side effect of breastfeeding, and breast milk can leave behind both telltale stains and embarrassing smells. Nursing pads are excellent for absorbing those inevitable leaks, saving you inconvenience and frustration.
  • Nursing clothes: There are many types of shirt available in designs that facilitate easy breastfeeding, and some nursing tanks are even quite stylish. This is especially handy at home with a newborn, when you may be entirely too tired to change just to feed baby.
  • Nursing bra: Regular bras don’t allow easy access to nipples for breastfeeding, which makes them difficult to use while trying to nurse. A nursing bra uses flaps or clips to allow mothers to easily and discreetly open their bra and feed baby.
  • Nursing cover: Don’t worry, not all of these are suffocating! There are many cute nursing covers that are breathable and offer just the right amount of discretion without making you or baby feel smothered. In fact, some wearable carriers basically double as nursing covers when they’re small, making life easier and saving you a few dollars.
  • Breast pump: A quality breast pump is especially important for working moms or those who can’t be with baby at feeding time. When you breastfeed regularly, your breasts will become full, leaky, and uncomfortable if baby doesn’t feed. You’ll need to pump both to save that milk for your baby and to avoid mastitis, an uncomfortable infection caused by backed up milk ducts. Investing in a trusted name, like a Medela or Ameda, can offer a solution to this situation.

A Breastfeeding FAQ(Mamas Share Their Wisdom)

How can I get comfortable with public breastfeeding?

Although you may be used to covering up and being discreet, remember that feeding your baby in public is your legal right. The use of a good nursing cover can help a great deal, as the best nursing covers make it impossible to know that you’re feeding your little one. Another thing to remember is that the majority of people will not notice you feeding your baby, and most of those who do will be completely indifferent. Public breastfeeding happens every day, and stories of harassment that make the news are by far exceptions to the norm.

What are the main benefits of breastfeeding?

When you breastfeed your baby, they have access to your natural antibodies. This helps to protect them against allergies and eczema, and they’re less likely to experience an upset stomach or bowel difficulties than formula-fed babies. Breastfeeding also lowers your baby’s risk of SIDS, reduces their risk of urinary tract infections, ear infections, respiratory infections, viruses, gastroenteritis, and inflammatory bowel disorder. The closeness breastfeeding facilitates also creates a close bond with your baby. Breast milk is also produced naturally, so you won’t have to pay for costly formula.

How can I deal with uncomfortable, itchy, or sore breasts caused by breastfeeding?

Soreness, itching, and irritation of the breasts while breastfeeding can be caused by conditions like thrush, candida, or mastitis. The former two are associated with moist skin caused by feeding which can lead to a bacterial or fungal infection, but the latter is caused by clogged, infected milk ducts related to engorged breasts. If you’re experiencing redness, swelling, or infection, stop breastfeeding and see your doctor immediately. Otherwise, do your best to keep your breasts dry, wear loose-fitting clothing, and use over the counter dermatitis creams to keep discomfort in check.

What medications are safe to use while breastfeeding?

Over the counter pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil are okay, but Naproxen should only be used for a short period of time. Common cold medicine ingredients like diphenhydramine and doxylamine succinate may act as a sedative to both mom and baby, and can be especially dangerous if baby is at risk of SIDS. Pseudoephedrine-based medications should be avoided, as they are associated with drying up breast milk supply.

I’m a medical marijuana patient, can I return to use while breastfeeding?

Research has shown that it isn’t wise to do so. Tetrahydrocannabidol, marijuana’s active ingredient, is fat-soluble and makes its way into both your bloodstream and your breast milk. Once it’s there, it will stay for up to six days. Marijuana can also slow your milk production, so it’s not ideal for breastfeeding moms.

What is breastfeeding inequality?

Breastfeeding inequality refers to the fact that women in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities are often not given the same education, support, or opportunities necessary for them to breastfeed successfully, often because of a lack of unpaid maternity leave. This is a cause in need of serious attention, and it’s championed by the World Alliance For Breastfeeding.

How can I clean a breast milk stain?

The nourishing protein present in your breast milk can stain things an unsightly and lasting shade of yellow, so it’s best to treat spills immediately. Rinse the garment in cold water, and then soak it in cold water for 15 minutes. Then, use a soft bristled brush or your fingers to work over the stain. Follow the garment’s washing instructions and dry it in the sun to make use of the sun’s natural bleaching ability. If the stain has already set, try an oxidizing stain remover; if you’d rather keep things all-natural, both white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide can brighten whites.

What foods can I eat to increase my milk production?

If you’re struggling with low milk production, there are lots of recipes online for snacks and meals that can help you. A few key ingredients have been shown to go above and beyond in helping with milk production, which include fenugreek (usually in tea form), oats and oat milk, fennel seeds, poultry and lean red meats, and garlic. Moms should note, however, that eating garlic can lead to a gassy baby post-breastfeeding!

How can I make sure I’m handling my breast milk safely?

If it’s possible, refrigerate any milk that you’ve pumped as soon as possible. The simplest way to do this is using milk storage bags. CDC guidelines indicate that breast milk can remain at 77 degrees Fahrenheit for up to four hours if needed. When warming your baby’s bottle, think room temperature, not hot — the temperature of their milk should never exceed 104 degrees. Placing their bottle or bag in a vessel of lukewarm water or using a bottle warmer is best.  

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