Moms aren't often given all the information they need about breastfeeding. They are often told about the benefits and that it might be challenging, but usually they are left to brave the “breastfeeding wilderness” with their newborn baby and their unwavering resolve. The thing is that, over time, most moms encounter issues with breastfeeding, from unexplained pain to issues with supply, and they’re unequipped to handle them properly. This often leads them to question their decision to breastfeed and quit altogether. But learning a few common precautions to take when you’re a breastfeeding mom can save you pain, stress, and maybe a lot more in the long run.
Although breastfeeding mothers are statistically at a lower risk for developing postpartum depression, Breastfeeding USA noted that when breastfeeding isn’t going well, the risk of PPD increases significantly. Furthermore, most of the issues women face while nursing are preventable, if the right precautions are taken in advance or at the onset of the problem.
Things like exhaustion, supply imbalance, engorgement, and even depression aren’t the norm for breastfeeding moms, even though most are led to believe they’re just side effects of the choice to breastfeed. Being proactive, though, can ensure that both you and your baby are as happy and healthy as you can be while you’re nursing.
1. Establish A Deep Latch Right Away To Avoid Pain
One of the most common complaints of nursing moms is simply that nursing hurts too much. According to La Leche League International (LLLI), however, pain while nursing is simply a signal that something is off and needs correcting. Pain in the nipple or engorgement in the breast is most commonly a sign of poor positioning or shallow latch, the article noted. To correct this pain, or prevent it in the first place, moms should practice the deep latch technique while nursing.
2. Eat A Healthy Diet
Believe it or not, the foods you put into your body directly relate to both your own health and the health of your baby. The Mayo Clinic stated that eating a diet full of protein, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and other natural nutrients will give you energy and calories needed to keep up your milk supply. Furthermore, your baby will consume a portion of what you do through your breastmilk, so eating healthy benefits them too.
3. Avoid Medications Not Authorized By Your Doctor
Although your options aren’t quite as limited as they were when you were pregnant, breastfeeding moms still need to be very careful about what medications they take as many medicines pass into a mother’s milk. According to Baby Center, many medications can even affect your milk supply, so be sure to check with your doctor before you take medication of any kind.
4. Avoid Drinking Before Nursing
Breastfeeding moms are often told to avoid alcohol altogether, and although that’s definitely not the case, they should avoid drinking before a nursing session. According to LLLI, alcohol passes freely in and out of a mother’s breast milk, the same way it passes in and out of her bloodstream. Most experts recommend drinking immediately after a nursing session, to give the alcohol time to leave your body until you nurse again. You can also pump or hand express milk before drinking if you’re concerned that the alcohol won’t be out of your milk in time or if you’ll be having more than a drink or two.
5. Get Enough Rest
Rest, like diet or exercise, is just as important for a successful breastfeeding relationship. Although it can feel like you’re never going to get enough sleep (those months of waking every two to three hours is rough), Today’s Parent noted that sleep is crucial for a breastfeeding mother’s health. Even if your baby still wakes often at night to nurse, consider keeping them in the room with you to reduce the length of time you’re awake nursing, or pump a few bottles and let your partner take over a nighttime feeding or two so that you can get some more rest and night.
6. Avoid Skipping Feedings
Skipped feeding happen. It’s part of breastfeeding. But, according to California Pacific Medical Center, skipping more than the (very) occasional feeding can lead to engorgement, decreased supply, and other issues for your baby as well.