The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Readers are thinking about boob jobs this week. Not surgical, "make them bigger than ever" work. Most pregnant or newly-delivered moms are pretty satisfied with their new super-sized, super-sensitive and maximized-for-optimal-performance breasts. They're asking really good brass-tacks questions. One reader, no name given) who's 24-weeks pregnant, asked if it was normal for her breasts to leak during pregnancy. Another reader, Alba, asked if she could still breastfeed her 11-week son if she has a cold. The answers are Yes and Yes.
Lots of women leak colostrum (the early calorie-dense, high-protein milk that's easy to digest and has just the right amount of nutrients a baby needs in the first few days after birth.) during pregnancy. Lots don't. Either way, it's normal. Our breasts get busy on the job of feeding our baby long before baby show's up at the breast. I think it's Mother Nature's plan that just in case Mom doesn't survive long after childbirth, baby can at least get colostrum. Colostrum contains the antibodies a baby needs to survive its new bacteria and virus-laden environment. It's a nice little genetic and immunity gift from mother to baby. Now that most mothers (at least in the US and developed nations) survive childbirth, we've discovered that breastfeeding for at least the first year provides the best nutrition for the long run. The list of studies that support this are too long to include in this blog. Really, really long. Nobody disputes this. Breast is best almost every time.
Your breasts are almost guaranteed to produce milk within a few days of delivery whether anything leaks out during pregnancy or not. I've had countless women come to the hospital saying they couldn't breastfeed because they didn't have milk. We nurses explain about colostrum and that their milk will come in within a few days. We tell them the more they nurse, the more milk they'll produce. Some are pretty skeptical and insist on bottle feeding until they see some evidence. Others are willing to humor us and find that, yes indeed, their baby gulps and swallows something during those first feedings and seems to fall asleep with a full tummy. Those that refuse to breastfeed until they can see honest-to-God milk coming out of their nipples? They get milk too but sometimes get less and often get into trouble because their baby prefers the instant-delivery system of milk in a bottle. Babies don't have to work as hard to get the goods. Babies are pretty smart but they'll go for easy access formula over breast milk even if it's not as good for them. Formula, however, is tougher on a newborn's stomach than breast milk and doesn't contain antibodies to give their immune system a turbo-charge. Breast is better.
Alba, I'm sorry about your cold, honey. That's the last thing you need when you're a new mom. The good news is that breastfeeding your son is completely safe and will offer him some immunity protection against catching your cold himself. It's no guarantee but he'll do much better with the breast milk than without. If you're feeling particularly lousy, you can safely take ibuprofen and Tylenol. Ask your pediatrician before you take anything else though.
I'm keeping it short this week, ladies, because I'm swamped with kids of my own who have colds. They're way too old for breastfeeding but that doesn't mean they don't take up as much of my time. They just need a different kind of pampering and attention when they're done with our boobs. In some ways, the boob jobs were easier.
Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to email@example.com and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.