Breastfeeding Basics | Fit Pregnancy

Breastfeeding Basics

The ABC's of Breastfeeding

You may have heard that nursing is the most natural maternal activity there is, but unless you’ve done it before, you need to learn some basic techniques to get it right. This guide will help you get started.

Start Early

Let It Flow

You’ve read breastfeeding books, visited chat rooms, taken classes and made the (very smart) decision to nurse your new baby. You’re ready, right? Mentally, yes, but once your baby makes his entrance, you’re faced with the prospect of actually doing it—maneuvering his tiny, floppy head onto your swollen breast and coaxing him not only to latch on, but to draw enough of that liquid gold into his body to sustain himself for the next hour, the next day, the next six months. We’re here to help, with expert tips to get you through those first hours in the hospital and first days at home.


Do breastfeeding campaigns stigmatize bottle-feeding moms?

Natural Tension Tamer

Mother Nature provides built-in stress relief for moms: breastfeeding. Scientists at Douglas Hospital Research Centre in Montreal showed videos of stressful scenarios to nursing and bottle-feeding moms. After watching the videos, the nursing mothers produced lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva. “We know breastfeeding is good for babies; now there’s evidence it’s good for mothers, too,” says lead researcher Claire-Dominique Walker, Ph.D. “It can reduce stress and anxiety, benefiting their physiology along with their ability to care for their child.” — AMY ALLISON

Nursing While Pregnant


Continuing to nurse likely is safe for you, your son and your baby in utero. A few caveats: Since breastfeeding burns calories and requires more fluids, you must eat and drink enough to stay well-hydrated and nourished and gain adequate weight. Also, breast stimulation in the last six weeks of pregnancy can lead to uterine contractions, so if there are concerns about preterm labor, your obstetrician may want you to stop nursing.

Bowel Movements


Yes, it is. Your daughter is eating perfect food, one that has been custom-made just for her. As her intestines mature and she is able to digest your breast milk more completely, the amount of waste your baby produces is naturally decreasing--which means she now can go for days without having to poop. This pattern often begins at about 6 weeks of age and can continue for the entire time a baby is exclusively breastfed, which is until the age of about 6 months in many families.

Nipple Confusion


Nipple confusion can be a problem for many breastfed babies if they are given a bottle too early, even if it's filled with breast milk. Here's why: Infants coordinate their jaw, cheek and swallowing muscles in a specific way when they are breastfeeding. With a bottle, their feeding patterns are completely different--a bottle, for instance, gushes milk into a baby's mouth, and the child needs to move his tongue to control the flow. Not so with the breast.

Alcohol and Breast Milk


Yes—as long as it's in moderation. Since anything you eat or drink can be transferred to your baby through your breast milk, you do need to watch what you put in your body.

What Not To Avoid

"Fruits and vegetables are essential to the breastfeeding diet," says Gina Solomon, M.D., M.P.H., a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Organic, pesticide-free produce is best, but if you can't find organic, rinse well and enjoy." Should your budget for organic foods be limited, she suggests buying organic versions of the produce most often treated with pesticides: berries; stone fruits (peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines, plums, etc.); leafy greens; and imported grapes. Domestic (in season) grapes are OK.

Toxic Cleanup