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If you are thinking about breastfeeding your baby, we highly recommend doing some homework before your newborn arrives. As you've probably heard by now, "it may be natural, but it doesn't always come naturally." We are happy to help you set yourself up for breastfeeding success by sharing this advice from Ashley Georgakopoulos, IBCLC and Lactation Director at Motif Medical.
Understand the Benefits
Even if you’re just considering breastfeeding, good for you! Breastfeeding can be a challenging, yet rewarding journey. If you decide it’s what’s right for you and your baby, be sure to educate yourself on the multitude of benefits to both of you so you can fully appreciate it.
Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby:
● Breast milk is loaded with antibodies to help infants fight off respiratory infections, viruses, ear infections, obesity, type one diabetes, allergies and more.
● Because breast milk is easier for infants to digest, it helps reduce upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, colic, and more.
Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom:
● Breastfeeding can help moms physically recover after giving birth. This is because oxytocin is released, reducing bleeding and helping the uterus return to its normal size more quickly.
● Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, and may help mom lose pregnancy weight.
● Not having to buy formula can save families money.
Eat Breastfeeding-Friendly Foods
Just like in pregnancy, a well-rounded diet rich in nutrition is a priority when breastfeeding.The body absorbs nutrition best from food sources, so it’s helpful to focus on quality foods like these:
● Fruits and Vegetables: Berries, tomatoes, kale, garlic, broccoli
● Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, flax
● Fish and Seafood: Salmon, seaweed, shellfish, sardines
● Meat: Beef, pork, dark chicken, meat, and organ meats, such as liver, all rich in iron
● Eggs: Great source of healthy cholesterol and vitamin D
● Whole Grains: Oats, quinoa, barley
● Other: Bone broth, fermented foods, mushrooms
There is no need to force fluids if you are satisfying your thirst and drinking water throughout your day. Your breastmilk is 84% water, so of course, you will need to increase the amount you are used to drinking. You’ll know you need to increase your water intake if you experience a sense of “cotton mouth” dryness when you sit to feed your baby, or if your urine becomes dark or has an odd scent.
The breastfeeding journey can be unpredictable, even for pros. The first six weeks after baby is born can be an especially fraught time to learn a new skill, especially when you factor in lack of sleep. Taking a breastfeeding class prior to giving birth is a good way to boost your confidence. It’s also important to seek out advice and encouragement from friends or family members who have been through it. There are also plenty of online communities focused on navigating new parenthood and all the issues that go along with it.
Just remember that everyone is different, including individual and medical factors that may not be accounted for when you are gathering information. No one knows breastfeeding like a lactation professional. A lactation consultant can help you overcome doubts, questions and troubles with breastfeeding. A good LC has both your baby and YOUR best interest in mind when helping you form a care plan of action. Your personal health, physically and mentally, plays a vital role in your ability to breastfeed your baby. Your goals, reasons, emotions, situation, and of course, your baby, are individual to you - and that matters.
About the Author
Ashley Georgakopoulos is Lactation Director at Motif Medical and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) that specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding and an expert in the field of lactation. Ashley is from Knoxville, TN, and is a mother who has dealt with the obstacles and joys of breastfeeding. As the owner of Genesis Lactation, she educates families, connects them to resources, and helps the next generation be as healthy as possible: nutritionally and sustainably.