The first six weeks are crucial when it comes to nursing your baby. Be prepared with our five simple steps to success.
3. Pay attention to your diet
You’ll need even more calories when breastfeeding than while pregnant— about 300 more per day than in the last trimester, even more if you’re exercising or have multiples. But don’t go overboard; three well-balanced meals a day plus healthful snacks should cover it. Here are tips for making sure you’re getting enough:
> Fill up your pantry and fridge ahead of time, and ask family members and friends to stock your freezer with meals before you have the baby.
> Ask a friend or family member to organize a “food train,” so people can take turns bringing you home-cooked meals for the first few weeks. After the baby arrives, prepare plates of finger foods (sandwich bites, string cheese, trail mix, vegetables and fruit) to nibble on while you nurse. Also consider a grocery-delivery service; you don’t want to have to bundle up your newborn and head out with her to get bread and milk.
> Breast milk is 87 percent water, so stay hydrated. “Drink to thirst and then a little more,” Lebbing advises.
4. Get help
“New mothers need to be mothered in order to mother their babies,” Lebbing says. Accept help when it’s offered: Let friends and family do a load of laundry, clean your bathroom, go grocery shopping, or watch the baby while you shower or take a quick walk. Ask a neighbor to watch your older child for a few hours. Also be sure to enlist your partner’s assistance; he can do all of the above or simply help you by holding the baby while you get comfortable and settled to nurse.
5. Don’t give in to fear
Many women who stop breastfeeding do so because they think they aren’t producing enough milk—but inadequate production is rare, according to Harvey. If your baby nurses eight to 12 times every 24 hours, has six or more wet diapers, and three or more bowel movements daily by day six, he’s getting plenty to eat. Still feeling concerned? Talk to your pediatrician. Nursing often (every one to three hours) should help you establish an ample milk supply. But if you’re worried, see a lactation consultant immediately. If she does determine that you have a low supply, she will likely devise a schedule for you that involves both pumping and frequent nursing; she may also recommend herbal supplements, such as Mother’s Milk tea, fenugreek or fennel seed.
Need a little help?
If you experience problems with breastfeeding—or if you simply have questions—contact the following organizations:
International Lactation Consultant Association:
La Leche League International:
Some good books to consult:
The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child From Birth Through Weaning by Martha Sears, R.N., and William Sears, M.D. (Little, Brown & Co.)
The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins, R.N., M.S. (The Harvard Common Press)
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman, M.D., and Teresa Pitman (Three Rivers Press)
And check out these videos:
How to Breastfeed: Deep Latch Technique (Fit Pregnancy)
How to Use A Breastpump (Fit Pregnancy)
Better Breastfeeding: Your Guide to a Healthy Start (InJoy Videos; injoyvideos.com)
Breastfeeding: A Guide to Getting Started (Video Transform; breastmilksolutions.com)