Many a mom has heard that beans, broccoli, chili peppers, garlic and onions should be avoided like the plague while breastfeeding. But if you devoured these foods during pregnancy, they probably won’t bother your baby now, says Ruth Lawrence, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York and chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Breastfeeding.
Planning to breastfeed your baby? You should. Nothing compares to the intimate moments between a mother and her nursing child, and nothing—nothing—helps a baby get off to a healthier start in life.
Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding—once you get the hang of it—is the easiest way to nourish your baby.
It’s also the healthiest, proven to reduce many childhood illnesses (including ear infections) and health threats in later life (obesity, to name just one).
You also save time and money because you don’t have to buy and prepare formula, which can cost up to $1,200 a year.
But how can you breastfeed and still have a life? What if you want to go out to dinner or have to travel? What if you go back to work? We’ll show you.
The state you live in helps determine your baby’s chance of being breastfed. Women in the West are most likely to nurse, Southern women least likely. Higher rates are also found among women who live in states with baby-friendly laws, like those that exempt breastfeeding from indecency rules. Health experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months and supplemental breastfeeding through at least the first year. While three-quarters of new moms begin breastfeeding in the hospital, only 36 percent continue for six months; and just 17 percent keep nursing for one year.
For some women, breastfeeding goes smoothly; for others, it can be difficult. That’s when advice from a certified lactation consultant is invaluable. “We help women separate fact from fiction,” says Debi Page Ferrarello, I.B.C.L.C., director of the Breastfeeding Resource Center in Glenside, Pa. “There is so much conflicting advice—our job is to help new moms feel confident.” Even if you haven’t had questions or challenges, chances are you will at some point. Here’s a look at some of the most common concerns.
1. How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Your baby. He’ll have your smile, his father’s eyes and, ideally, your breast milk. To make sure that milk is the best it can be, you may think you need to follow the same stringent dietary guidelines as when you were pregnant. The good news is, you now can relax a little.
Many women approach breastfeeding with an all-or-nothing attitude, assuming that they’ll breastfeed exclusively and that it will be an effortless, even blissful experience. After all, why shouldn’t something so natural be easy? The good news is, for many women, nursing is trouble-free. But as any lactation consultant will tell you, breastfeeding also is a learned art, one that requires education, practice and plenty of support. With that in mind, we asked several leading lactation consultants to give us their best breastfeeding tips.
There is no ‘correct’ age to wean your baby. Like diapers and pacifiers, breastfeeding is something that children outgrow at different ages.
If you’re breastfeeding, chances are you’re enjoying the closeness you share with your baby and the confidence that comes from knowing you’re giving him a healthy start in life. As your baby grows, however, you may find yourself being asked,
If someone told you there’s an elixir that could help protect your new baby from bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections, would you want to know more? If you knew that the effects of this concoction would last into your child’s teenage years, reducing his risk for diabetes, allergies and high blood pressure, would you just have to have it? If the same potion might boost his IQ, wouldn’t you rush out to find it as soon as you could?
When it comes to breastfeeding, everyone from your mother’s second cousin to your hairstylist will ply you with advice and opinions. Some of the “wisdom” imparted may be helpful, but chances are much of it won’t be. “There are so many myths surrounding breastfeeding that it can be hard for women to know what’s true and what’s not,” says Wendy Haldeman, R.N., M.N., a certified lactation consultant and co-owner of The Pump Station, a breastfeeding-support center in Santa Monica, Calif. To help you sort through it all, here are the truths behind some of the most common myths.
As my milk came in after the birth of my first child, so did a torrent of questions. My midwife, who’d been up all night helping me give birth, answered the first 200 or so with good humor. But when I asked her how I’d know when to wean my baby, then only an hour old, I could tell she thought I was getting ahead of myself.
“Oh, you’ll know.”
She rubbed her eyes, yawning. “I don’t know. When he embarrasses you by demanding it in a supermarket.”
“Asking to nurse? With spoken words?”
When I was pregnant, I heard many a story about problems other women had with breastfeeding: bleeding nipples, painful engorgement and inadequate milk supply, to name a few. I knew that I wanted to nurse my baby and felt confident I could, but I wondered: Will this happen to me, too?