So you’ve gotten through labor and have a tiny newborn begging for food every twenty minutes or so.
First of all, you have to decide if you will breastfeed and for how long. Though not all women are able to, if you can, it is by far the best choice for the health of your child.
Breastmilk promotes beneficial bacterial growth in your baby’s gut, contains the optimal nutrition levels, it’s free, it’s environmentally friendly, and it promotes a type of bonding you will find it difficult to experience in any other way.
Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma, childhood cancer, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, SIDS, and diabetes, among others. Plus, breastfeeding lowers your risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer as well as diabetes.
Are you worried about your milk supply or the quality of your breastmilk? Worrying that you won’t produce enough milk is a common concern.
Luckily, almost every woman produces plenty of breastmilk, even if they have twins. The most important thing to remember is that even after giving birth, you may need to consume more calories than you’re used to.
Unless you are trying to lose a lot of weight, plan to eat between 300-450 extra calories a day.
Just as important is to drink plenty of fluids while breastfeeding. It is recommended that you drink a glass of water or other fluid every time you feed your baby. Try to avoid drinks with high sugar content such as fruit juices and sodas.
Water, plain or with lemon, and whole milk are good choices. Herbal teas are also beneficial, though be sure to check with your midwife, as not all herbal teas are safe for breastfeeding. Some herbs can even promote the flow of milk: fenugreek and fennel are two that are easy to find and often taken together.
Fennel seed, found in the spice aisle, is certainly harmless to add to your food and may help increase milk production. But remember, never take an herbal supplement without getting medical advice.
Another issue you may experience while breastfeeding is mastitis. Mastitis is an infection caused by a blocked milk duct. Your breast will likely be tender, swollen, red, and feel warm.
You may feel feverish. It’s important to keep breastfeeding even if it’s painful, however, since the flow of milk will help clear the blocked duct and heal the infection more quickly.
The milk is perfectly safe for your baby to drink. You can also try putting a hot compress on your sore breast to relieve pain and inflammation.
As with any infection, drink plenty of fluids and rest. If the infection gets worse, contact your doctor, though most will clear up at home with a little patience.
It is perfectly possible to raise a healthy baby on a good formula for breastfed babies, if necessary, but it should always be the second choice.