By Nicole Vaudrin, RDN, Stephanie Olzinski, RDN and Katelyn Millinor, LPC
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding until 6 months old.”
Around 60% of mothers do not breastfeed as long as they intend to due to various factors such as issues with lactation and latching, concerns about taking medications while breastfeeding, un-supportive work policies, cultural norms, and lack of family support.
Breastfeeding can help give babies a healthy start and build their immune systems, and may protect against obesity, diabetes, ear infections, asthma, digestive issues, and more. However, breastfeeding is not always easy and mothers often need extra support.
Tips for mother and baby that will help with both nutrition and emotional well-being.
- Worried baby isn’t getting enough? Milk quantity is a common stressor for most moms. If you’re worried about milk supply, be sure to maintain frequent feedings throughout the day. This is also a place to review your own nutrition. Most mothers need 400-500 extra calories per day while breastfeeding to provide the needed nutrition and energy to produce milk. As you are continuing your nutrition post-partum, try to focus on including whole grains (more fiber is better!), lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, fatty fish).
- It hurts! Soreness is to be expected at first, but breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. Two of the most common issues are latching and engorgement. Mothers may need assistance from a lactation consultant to problem solve. Lactation consultants in the hospital are very beneficial to help a mother learn how to breastfeed, identify barriers, and work to remedy those barriers. Breastfeeding is a skill that both baby and mother must learn. If pain continues to be a concern, there are local breast feeding support groups to help mothers navigate through various difficulties.
- It’s a lot of work! The pressure to breastfeed is high for new mothers. The mention of it starts in the prenatal period and it is often discussed as if there will be little to no issues. These messages are impactful and can be stressful. Often there is guilt or shame if a mother is unable to produce milk to feed her infant or if she chooses not to breast feed or pump. A lot of time can go into pumping, storing, and producing milk.
- Going back to work or school? Pumping can be a great option to continue providing your baby with breastmilk. However some moms may experience lack of privacy or supportive work policies, and may struggle with the time needed throughout the day to pump and store.
- You may experience increased stress. Some stressors of breastfeeding may include irritability, pain, concerns about privacy, lacking confidence, criticism, milk supply, or feeling unsupported or trapped. There are various ways to cope with breastfeeding stressors such as taking breaks (when it is safe to do so), deep breaths, exercise, talking to someone you trust, or joining a support group. Breastfeeding is natural but it doesn’t always come naturally. Remember, fed is best.
What can you do to learn more and support breastfeeding?
Support your local La Leche League: LLL is an international non-profit that supports and advocates for breastfeeding, including establishing human milk banks. LLL also has information on everything breastfeeding including pumping, reflux, biting, and more! https://www.LLLi.org/about/history/\
HonorHealth Centers for Breast Feeding Support:
Shea Medical Center
Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center