Do I have enough milk? Is it normal for my nipples to hurt? Can I have a glass of wine? Every new nursing mom has questions. We’re here to help, with answers to the 10 most common.
8. Do I need to change my diet while I’m breastfeeding? “You should follow the same basic guidelines and precautions that you did when you were pregnant,” Mann says. In other words, make sure you’re eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and drinking plenty of fluids—at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day. You may discover that eating certain foods seems to upset your baby’s tummy, but there is no evidence that you should make drastic changes, she says. The Environmental Protection Agency does advise that nursing mothers not eat shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel because these fish may contain dangerous levels of mercury. You can safely eat 12 ounces per week of other fish, such as tuna, salmon and shellfish. (For more guidelines, visit www.fda.gov/oc/ opacom/hottopics/mercury/backgrounder.html.)
9. I want to give my baby a pacifier, but I don’t want to torpedo my breastfeeding. What’s the real deal with nipple confusion? Early in the newborn period, the baby is learning how to breastfeed, and sucking from a plastic nipple—whether a pacifier or a bottle—is very different from sucking at the breast. It’s therefore best to wait awhile before giving your baby a pacifier or a bottle. “Babies don’t come with labels that tell us which ones will be at risk for early weaning or breastfeeding problems if given an artificial nipple,” Erickson says. “That’s why we say that across the board, it’s better to wait to introduce a pacifier or bottle until a baby is 4 to 6 weeks old and is breastfeeding well.”
10. If I give my baby an occasional bottle of formula, will she not want to nurse? As long as you wait until your baby is about 6 weeks old, giving your baby formula occasionally probably won’t affect her willingness to breastfeed or take breast milk from a bottle. But giving your baby bottles of pumped breast milk rather than formula will increase her ability to fight off certain diseases. “The baby’s gut is an open structure, like a honeycomb, until about 5 months of age,” Harvey explains. “Breast milk creates good bacteria that help close up the open walls of the intestines, in turn preventing the large molecules of some harmful bacteria and viruses from passing through.”