The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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No. If your baby had been allergic to anything in your system, he would have died before birth. Perhaps what your doctor meant is that your baby is allergic to a particular food in your diet. Your breast milk can contain protein fragments from foods, and if your baby is allergic to them, they can cause gas, rashes, reflux or other problems. To figure out if this is the case, eliminate from your diet the foods that are most likely to cause allergic reactions--dairy products, eggs, peanuts and soy--for two weeks. Then slowly add each one back in while monitoring your baby's reaction.
Reflux is a fairly common condition in which food and digestive juices back up into the esophagus from the stomach, often causing excessive spitting-up and, rarely, vomiting. Since your baby is breastfed, you may want to try eliminating such common allergens as dairy, eggs, wheat and peanuts from your diet; some women say they've had good success with this approach. If it doesn't help, your doctor may choose to prescribe medication for your infant.
Pregnant women often worry that breastfeeding will spoil the appearance of their breasts. Even in developing nations, where international agencies actively promote nursing, the fear of sagging breasts often prevents new mothers from following the recommendation to breastfeed, says Brian Rinker, M.D., an assistant professor of plastic surgery at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
Studies have shown that any breast surgery, including biopsy, reduction or augmentation, may result in inadequate milk supply. Experts aren't sure why augmentation might have this effect, but there's speculation that the surgery could cause damage to the milk ducts or that pressure from the implants could harm the breast tissue. Whether the implants are saline or silicone doesn't seem to affect nursing success, but the incision location does.
Despite your best intentions, you're ready to give up: Breastfeeding has rendered your nipples a cracked and painful mess, and you can't take it anymore. Instead of treasuring those intimate moments of nursing your baby, you've come to dread them. But it doesn't have to be this way.
When I started a new job in the early '90s, Something stunning happened at my first staff meeting: A co-worker discreetly pumped her breasts during the half-hour gathering. This was no act of boldness, I later learned--simply business as usual at this particular office. After my son was born a few years later, I knew I could return to work and keep nursing without difficulty, given that pumping would be convenient (extremely so, obviously!) and no big deal to my co-workers.
While the number of new mothers who are breastfeeding is increasing, cultural and other influences conspire to keep many of them from doing so. Don't let that happen to you. Here are tips to help you overcome some of the common hurdles.
Most pregnant women who say they're going to breastfeed do--but many stop before their babies get much benefit. Researchers looked at data on more than 30,000 women and found that 13 percent of those who breastfed their newborns stopped by the time the baby was a month old, even though experts recommend breast milk as the baby's exclusive food for the first six months.
Although your partner may beg to differ, your breasts' fundamental purpose is to provide sustenance to your offspring.
Alas, the irony is that while nursing may be the most natural act in the world, it isn't always easy. "I've been helping moms breastfeed for 30 years," says Sue Huml, I.B.C.L.C., director of education for Lansinoh Laboratories, a maker of breastfeeding products in Alexandria, Va.
Whenever my pregnant friends ask me for tips about breastfeeding, I advise this: Before you sit down to nurse, make sure there's a tall glass of something wet within reach. I experienced an overwhelming thirst the second my son started to suckle, and grape juice was the only thing that quenched it. Other women have told me that instead of water, Gatorade and carrot juice quelled their insta- dehydration.
"I had bilateral silicone implants placed at age 17," says Kristen, a 39-year-old mother of two. "I nursed both of my children with no complications or problems. I even had a ruptured implant, which was encapsulated by scar tissue, and my doctor still recommended breastfeeding."
Chances are you're pretty well aware of breastfeeding's benefits. Most likely, your doctor has told you that breast milk is the best form of nutrition for your baby and that breastfed babies get sick less often. She also may have mentioned that nursing burns calories (hooray!) and that it lowers your risk for breast and ovarian cancers. Plus, it promotes bonding with your infant.