Breastfeeding can be difficult for some women in the first few weeks, but it gets easier and more natural with time.
[Q] My friend nursed her baby for 16 months and now has very saggy breasts. Will the same thing happen to me if I breastfeed?
[A] Probably not. Some women do have "involution" of the breasts after nursing, but a very small percentage of these cases are caused by breastfeeding itself. The more likely causes include age, gravity, pregnancy, lack of proper support and large breast size.
If you do find yourself a bit saggy after nursing, you'll be happy to know that the majority of women in this situation "perk up" over time as fat tissue regenerates in their breasts. Wearing a well-fitting, supportive bra during pregnancy and nursing can help.
[Q] How do I know if I need to see a lactation consultant?
[A] There are several reasons you might need to see a lactation consultant:
• You have sore, cracked nipples and/or dread nursing
• You think the baby isn't getting enough milk
• The baby cries nonstop for three to five hours; is constantly fussy; or never seems to sleep or rest
• The baby seems discontent after many feedings or he sleeps all the time
• Filling of your breasts (engorgement) doesn't happen by the fifth day post-birth
• You are severely engorged or the baby doesn't latch on
• The baby has fewer than three yellow, loose stools daily by day six
• The baby hasn't regained his birth weight by 2 weeks of age
• You have any other breastfeeding concerns
If you need help finding a lactation consultant, contact the International Lactation Consultant Association at 919-861-5577; www.ilca.org.
[Q] Should I modify my diet to keep my baby from getting gassy?
[A] We recommend the wait-and-see approach: Don't alter your diet unless your baby seems absolutely miserable and you suspect a food you've eaten may be the cause. If you do decide to change your diet, try removing one or two foods at a time, wait a few days and see if the baby seems better. If not, add the foods back in. We also encourage moms to eat everything in moderation--instead of three bowls of strawberries, try one.
If you do suspect that a food is causing your baby distress, consider eliminating the following items from your diet, which some experts suspect can cause gas in breastfed babies:
• Cruciferous vegetables--particularly broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts
• Garlic and onions
• Highly acidic foods such as tomatoes
• Highly spiced foods
Also keep in mind that if your baby is sensitive to a particular food, he may not be bothered by it long-term; what bothers him at 2 weeks of age may not bother him at 2 months.
Now for a caveat: If you or your husband has food allergies or they run in your family, you should steer clear of those foods while nursing.
P.S.: You can safely eat sushi, soft cheeses and other foods that were verboten during pregnancy. But do still pay attention to mercury levels in fish.