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July 26, 2018

Conquer Breastfeeding with 3 Musts for the First Months

Your newborn baby poses many exciting challenges that need to be addressed immediately and then minute to minute in the first few hours. She is born, she is on your chest, you need to keep her warm. She stays with you, skin-to-skin for the next several hours. Now not only do you need to keep her warm, you need to keep her fed. Not only do you need to keep her warm and fed but you need to be warm and fed as well. In the next 24 hours you will be busy and running high on hormones, you might miss your body’s signals to slow down and heal itself.

During the first week at home with your newborn you can easily become depleted, physically and emotionally, by 1. Insufficient calories.  2. Insufficient sleep and 3. Insufficient support. Ready to Conquer Breastfeeding? Here are 3 Musts for the First Months!

1. Calories in – calories out. Simply put, you will continue to make good quality milk even if your diet is lacking in high quality proteins and fresh foods, but this process may deplete you of your necessary nutrients over time. You might begin to feel nauseated from an electrolyte imbalance or dizzy from low glucose after only a few days of inadequate intake.

What is an adequate intake?  

3 to 5 small meals per day, taken every 3 to 4 hours, will provide the energy you need to stay healthy and alert while you heal. Low fat proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains should make up 90% of your diet. White wheat products, sugars and processed foods should be kept at a minimum. Consistency is the key, and it turns out sticking to it can be the most challenging.


2. Sleep after breastfeeding. Many breastfed babies awake during the night to feed. Maybe even 2 or 3 times.  This is normal one-month-old breastfeeding behavior. You will never sleep as you slept before your baby was born.  You sleep differently now; the way mothers sleep. Easily awakened by your baby’s night time sounds, breasts responding to your baby’s cues, you’re ready to feed her and go back to sleep.

How you can sleep better.

There is a biological reason why breastfeeding leads to drowsiness and a pathway to better sleep. Your newly breastfeeding body releases hormones, specifically oxytocin, ensuring your milk let-down and sufficient milk production during a feeding.   Oxytocin, which is also a relaxant, has been shown to promote feelings of maternal love and enhance feelings of connectedness with your newborn. Feed your baby, meditate on the feelings of peace and letting go of the day’s efforts...and go back to sleep as your baby settles down to her sleep, each time. Take advantage of your body’s natural sleep enhancer. Plan for daytime naps after feedings, you need them to heal in your first weeks after giving birth.

3. Support. Your breastfeeding skills aren’t innate, they need to be taught, and your newborn needs to learn. This teaching must come from someone trained in lactation management. A board certified lactation consultant can offer you optimal breastfeeding techniques for your unique situation. Better breastfeeding management means avoiding the uncomfortable feelings of engorgement in the first few days, achieving pain-free latches that enable your newborn to suck and swallow and be satisfied at your breast...right from the start.  Allow family to shop and cook for you and help with sibling childcare or laundry. Invite friends over and share ideas and feelings and ask them to bring lunch.

By eating right, sleeping after breastfeeding and relying on support, you will find you can conquer this new change in your life and take on any challenges ahead.


What are your musts for breastfeeding mothers?

Paula Zindler
RN IBCLC



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