Breastfeeding: A How-To

My post on Breastfeeding Benefits: For Mom And Baby has been such a hit with you lovely bunch! I have been asked to write more on the topic of breastfeeding and if I can offer advice, tips, and tricks. Before I offer any of these, I would like to say that I am not an expert on breastfeeding. This is all information I have gathered from my own personal experiences, my child’s pediatrician, my lactation consultant, the wonderful moms from my Instagram community, the good olé internet, and even Pinterest!

  • Before you continue reading, please consult your doctor if you’re having any difficulties breastfeeding.
  • Let’s start with the basics. If you are exclusively breastfeeding or pumping, your milk is solely responsible for your child’s nutrition and well-being, treat it so. The foods, drinks, and substances you consume, are all distributed to your baby through your milk. Your diet and daily habits greatly influence the health of your babies so please take care of yourself and your baby.

    During pregnancy you are told to avoid certain foods such as: soft cheeses, raw foods, fish with high mercury levels, alcohol, soda, processed foods, excess caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs. After birth, you’re allowed to resume consuming some of these. However, if you are breastfeeding you should be careful of what you are consuming.

    Through extensive research and expert options, I have learned that there are certain foods you should avoid while breastfeeding. These foods can affect your milk supply, deplete it, or upset baby.

    Foods to AVOID While Breastfeeding: (These Foods can Affect your Milk Supply and/or Baby)

    1. Herbs: Parsley, Oregano, Sage, Peppermint, Spearmint, Thyme, Fennel, Chamomile, Star Anise, Ginseng (some of these herbs are known as diuretics and could deplete your milk supply while others can be harmful to you or baby.)
    1. Seasonings: Adobo, chicken bouillon (they contain herbs from the list above)
    1. Dairy: My lactose intolerance has passed down to my second daughter.
    1. Spicy foods: This includes whole peppers and spicy seasonings. Unless you consumed spicy food throughout your pregnancy, be weary when eating spicy foods while nursing. They can upset babies tummy and cause digestion issues.
    1. Garlic: It makes everything more delicious but it changes the taste and smell of your breastmilk, so test it out and see if baby likes it or not.
    2. Beans: These yummy guys can make your baby gassy, some babies respond well to beans and some don’t do test it out before you fully incorporate it into your diet.
    3. Sugary Foods: Limit your intake on unnecessary sugars such as candies, sugar cereals, ice cream, cookies, and so on. Researchers have seen a link between breastfeeding mothers who consume these types of foods to children with obesity issues later on in life.
    4. Processed Foods: We all love chips, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Frozen Foods, Take-Out, and everything else that’s considered a guilty pleasure. However, processed foods have also been linked to obesity issues later on in life. If they aren’t healthy for us, why would we feed them to our babies.

    Foods you SHOULD Consume while Breastfeeding: (These Foods Can Boost Your Milk Supply and Are Healthy for You and Baby)

    • Oatmeal: Oats are great at boosting your energy, and keeping you full, they are also fantastic at boosting your milk supply
    • Bananas: Just like it’s, they are great at giving you energy, and keeping you full
    • Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds, Brewers Yeast: These three ingredients can make for a killer, delicious, milk-boosting smoothie!
    • Salmon: One of the best sources of protein in my opinion, which you need to create well-balanced milk
    • Protein: If you’re not a fan of meat or don’t have time, you can always find breastfeeding-friendly protein drinks.
    • Leafy Greens: Spinach, spring mix, collard greens.
    • Carrots: A cup of 100% carrot juice a day will help your milk flourish.
    • Almonds: Most nuts can help boost milk supply but almonds are high on the list
    • Quinoa: I prefer this over brown rice, but you can have either or.
    • Eggs: Another great source of protein
    • Water: Download an app that tracks your daily water intake. I use an app called My Water. I consume about 3.9L of water everyday. I purchased a 33oz water bottle from Walmart and refill it 4x a day. Your water intake is essential to your milk production. Breastmilk is about 80% water.

    Other Factors that Affect Breastmilk Supply:

    • Contraceptives
    • Alcohol and other drug consumption
    • Stress Levels
    • Prescription Drugs
    • Improper latching
    • Infrequent Feedings
    • Supplementing (the more you supplement, the less milk your body produces because baby isn’t feeding, whatever you do, don’t supplement, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Each time you bring baby to your breast, your body produces more milk. The less time that contact happens, the less milk you produce.)

    Ok, now that we’ve discussed foods to AVOID and MILK-BOOSTING foods, and other milk-effecting factors, t’s time to discuss nursing/pumping habits.

    If you’re exclusively breastfeeding you should be feeding your baby on cue. I don’t believe in feeding schedules. Whenever I see feeding cues, I immediately offer her my breast. She feeds about every two hours and every 3-4 at night, sometimes I have to wake her for feedings.

    Try to not let anything get in between you and nursing baby. Set timers for yourself if you need to and get whatever you need done, after baby feeds. The worst thing you can do is make baby wait to feed, which is why you see funny but real pictures of moms nursing while brushing their teeth, taking a shower, eating, pulled over on the highway, it’s all real. Feed on demand. Also, avoid bottles and pacifiers (unless you’re pumping/and working) that way your body keeps producing milk.

    Milk production also stems from latching techniques, as long as you nurse often and baby empties each breast, your body will continue to make enough milk to sustain your infant. Improper latching leads to inadequate feedings, milk left in the breast, and a fussy baby. It can also cause mastitis and other painful breast issues for mom. Take the time to ensure that baby latches properly, have snacks, a water bottle, fully-charged phone, empty bladder, and breastfeeding pillow handy. You never know how long you will be nursing and you can use all the support you can get!

    Breastfeeding is hard, I know. It leads to sleepless nights, sore nipples, painful breasts, dirty dishes, interrupted showers and bathroom time, it’s difficult to do in public places, sometimes you feel inadequate, and question whether or not your feeding your baby enough, and is your body producing the right amount of milk. All I can say mama, is that it gets easier. The beginning months are difficult and so are growth spurts but breastfeeding is beautiful, natural, and beneficial for both you and baby. You got this! It’s a journey and a learning experience. I hope this information is helpful to you and aids in your journey!

    Love,

    A breastfeeding mama

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