Breastfeeding creates a beautiful relationship with baby while providing excellent nutrition and health benefits. But breastfeeding can also create many questions a mom might be too embarrassed to ask.
After 40 weeks of carrying a baby, moms are concerned about what life will be like while breastfeeding. Will she be able to drink coffee and wine? What happens if she begins leaking milk? What will happen to the romance with her partner?
These are all absolutely normal things to consider when thinking of breastfeeding. While a mom might not want to ask her mother-in-law these personal questions she can find the answers here.
In a time when mothers are both shamed and glorified for breastfeeding, the new mom may be uncomfortable to start this journey with her baby. The most sensitive parts of her body and her psyche are put through the ringer as she learns to nourish her baby naturally.
Over and over again women have quietly wondered about the details of breastfeeding. Will it hurt? Can small breasts produce enough? Where can I find help? These questions and many more are answered for moms considering breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a journey that benefits both mom and baby. Keep reading to find out questions every mom wonders about.
15 Do Small Chests Produce Enough Milk?
The size of the breast doesn’t actually change how much milk it can produce. The mammary glands within the breast produce the milk. Extra tissue and fat storage account for the cup size and these parts don’t help in the production of milk. Once the mammary glands are activated they will begin to produce milk.
Women with very large breasts may have more challenges finding comfortable nursing positions. By trying more positions, using supports like a nursing pillow and seeking advice from other experienced moms these challenges can be overcome.
Women of all breast sizes have been able to successfully breastfeed. Sometimes the shape of the nipple or inverted nipples cause challenges to breastfeeding. With the use of nipple guards these challenges can also be overcome.
14 Will Feeding The Baby Hurt Me?
Breastfeeding may be painful at times. The pain could be normal or indicate a problem.
As mom and baby learn to breastfeed, the nipples can become sore, dry and even cracked. This is a time when baby is learning to latch and mom’s skin is getting used to the nursing. Allowing air to get to the nipples and using softening cream after nursing can help.
After a few weeks, if there is still pain with breastfeeding there may be a problem with baby’s latch.
As the breastfeeding relationship continues, baby may nurse more often or with some gumming movements if baby is teething.
If the breasts become sore, hard, warm or mom gets a fever there may be an infection. Rest and more nursing can help but if it gets worse consult your physician.
13 Is Leaking Normal?
Leaking does happen and it’s best to be prepared for it. Having a stash of disposable or washable breast pads on hand can help a newly breastfeeding mom feel comfortable.
You’re more likely to leak early in breastfeeding as your body gets used to producing breast milk. The breasts may begin to leak when it has been awhile since the last feeding. Hearing a crying baby (even when it’s not your own) can also cause leakage.
Many women will produce enough milk to leak through a padded bra and several shirts. Breast pads will help to absorb this excess. Some women find they even need to use more than one for each breast at a time.
As the body adjusts to baby’s feeding demand and schedule leaking usually decreases.
12 What If I Can't Handle Breastfeeding?
Many new moms worry that they won’t be able to handle breastfeeding. There are so many unknowns when it comes to becoming a parent. Some people have more difficulty with the transition than others.
Trying breastfeeding is encouraged because the milk is specially formulated for baby. It has many added health benefits. If you don’t start right away you usually can’t start weeks later.
If you give it a few weeks and it just isn’t working out than give yourself a break and make the decision that is best for you and your family. Every situation is different and needs the right solution for that situation.
Formula has come a long way in the last several decades and is a safe alternative when breastfeeding isn’t working.
11 Can My Baby Starve While Breastfeeding?
Rarely, when breastfeeding doesn’t go well the baby could actually starve. Count the number of wet and soiled diapers baby has each day. This is an indicator of how much a breastfed baby is eating.
Once your milk has come in, a breastfed baby should have 5 to 6 wet diapers in 24 hours with light yellow urine. A newborn should have 2 to 4 loose, mustard colored stools per day. Less than this may indicate that baby isn’t receiving enough breast milk.
A newborn baby should eat every 1 to 3 hours. Listen for swallowing when the baby is nursing. This will let you know that the baby is able to get milk.
Trust your instincts and seek help from a pediatrician or lactation consultant if your concerned that baby isn’t getting enough.
10 Will I Still Want To Get It On?
Many women have concerns about sex while breastfeeding—especially when it comes to nipple stimulation. Sex can still be enjoyed during breastfeeding but the breasts may be more sensitive at some points during breastfeeding.
When the baby is nursing frequently or teething, you may want to avoid nipple stimulation during sex.
Sex may also cause the breasts to leak. Some women feel more comfortable leaving a bra on during sex to help control the leakage.
Being open with your partner about what is happening during breastfeeding will help. Your partner might enjoy your full bosom also.
Breastfeeding can have the added benefit of providing birth control. When the baby is under 6 months old and exclusively breastfeeding throughout the day and night breastfeeding can be 98% effective in preventing pregnancy.
9 Is Breastfeeding In Public Okay?
Breastfeeding in public in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands is allowed by specific laws. All of the states but Idaho have legislation for breastfeeding. This legislation, though, doesn’t stop people from being rude or insulting if you choose to do it. It is up to you whether or not you feel comfortable doing it.
Breastfeeding is natural but not all moms feel comfortable doing it in public. Some moms nurse where ever and whenever baby is hungry. Other moms opt to use a blanket or cover over the baby and breast. Still other moms prefer to excuse themselves and nurse in a private room.
Public places are becoming more and more breastfeeding friendly. Many public places have designated nursing stations for moms and babies.
8 How Will I Pump Away From Home?
Pumping away from home takes extra planning and supplies. Take time to consider where you are going and what options there may be for setting up your breast pump.
By being up front about your needs, people are usually very accommodating and try to help. While attending a conference in a hotel, I once asked the front desk where I might be able to pump. They gladly gave me a whole hotel room to use for the day free of charge.
Some pumps take batteries, others plug in, some can connect to a car lighter outlet. Check venues for specific breast feeding stations. If all else fails, you may need to manually express to relieve pressure and prevent leaking.
Make sure to pack a cooler, ice pack and containers to store the breast milk.
7 What If I Need Help?
Breastfeeding is a natural way to nourish baby and mom’s body was specially designed for this purpose. But that doesn’t mean that mom intrinsically knows how to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding is a process that’s learned. We need a support system when learning how to breastfeed.
Luckily, we are now easily connected with moms across the globe. You can find Facebook groups dedicated to moms helping other moms breastfeed. Your hospital or local child development office (like Help Me Grow in Ohio) probably has a lactation consultant. La Leche League has local groups that meet in person. KellyMom.com is a great website with lots of information. If you don’t have friends or family who breastfed you can connect with others to help.
6 Do I Need A Special Diet?
While a healthy diet is always best for a healthy life a specific diet isn’t needed to breastfeed.
In fact, the body does such a good job at making nutritious breast milk that even women with diets high in rice and few veggies or meat can produce quality milk according to Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D.
If mom isn’t consuming enough vitamins and minerals to produce healthy milk, the body can actually take from mom’s store to give to the baby.
Mom needs to make sure she is eating enough calories and drinking enough liquids. Generally, if you eat and drink when hungry and thirsty you’ll have the correct balance.
Having enough good fats can help to support brain and eye development. While a perfect diet may not drastically improve the breast milk it will improve mom’s overall health.
5 Can I Drink Alcohol?
Currently, research on breastfeeding and having an occasional alcoholic drink (1-2) shows it does not harm the nursing baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that drinking alcoholic beverages should be limited and minimized to no more than about an 8 ounce wine or 2 beers. Breastfeeding then shouldn’t take place until 2 hours or longer afterward.
If you are concerned about the safety of your breast milk, you can purchase alcohol test strips made specifically for breast milk. A breast feeding mother could also opt to feed the baby with pre-pumped breast milk until she’s comfortable the milk has cleared (especially if you’ve had more than the recommended amounts). Skipping a feeding may mean you’ll need to pump off some of the excess milk to relieve the breasts of excess milk and toss this milk.
4 Can I Run Or Exercise While Breastfeeding?
Once you’ve been cleared for physical activity, it is okay to exercise when breastfeeding (not literally at the same time though).
When running or doing other high impact exercises it is helpful to wear two bras or even wrap the chest. The bouncing movement can be painful with sensitive or full breasts.
Breastfeeding alone burns about 300-600 calories a day. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough calories while breastfeeding and exercising to give the baby everything it needs.
Having a healthy lifestyle that includes breastfeeding is a great example to set for your little one. Enjoy exercise and make sure to take great care of your body. You are relying on your body to feed and care for your bundle of joy.
3 Can I Breastfeed And Still Take My Medications?
Specific questions about medications need to be addressed with a physician. Some medications are deemed safe during breastfeeding while others could be dangerous.
Some medications pass through the bloodstream and into the breast milk. This allows some medications to directly reach the baby.
Even seemingly natural products like herbal teas, vitamins and essential oils could be dangerous while breastfeeding. Check the labeling on teas and vitamins for warnings about breastfeeding. Usually, essential oils don’t contain these warnings and aren’t required to. Double check with your healthcare provider before using any of these items while breastfeeding.
Some moms air on the side of caution and avoid all medications during breastfeeding. Baring any major medical issue, some moms can eliminate most or all medications for the duration of breastfeeding.
2 Can I Drink Coffee?
Yes, you can drink coffee while breastfeeding. Some caffeine from the coffee you drink will end up in the breast milk but current research estimates it’s only about 1% of what you drink.
Sometimes moms are concerned that it’s the coffee they’re drinking that’s keeping baby up. More than likely, it is some change that the baby is going through. But if you can’t seem to get to the bottom of it, you can always try cutting coffee out and seeing if it makes a difference for baby.
You can also try black tea which has less caffeine than coffee. Green tea has even less caffeine than black tea.
After a long night with a baby, it’s reassuring that you can get a little boost from a cup of coffee.
1 Can I Try To Loose Weight While Breastfeeding?
Many moms are itching to get their body back after having a baby. But your body put on extra weight for a reason –to feed the baby once it’s born.
The body went through many changes during pregnancy. It should be given time to slowly return to normal.
Breastfeeding is a great way to shed the extra pounds. Just by feeding the baby you can burn an extra 300-600 calories a day which is about how much you’d burn by running 3 miles.
La Leche League doesn’t recommend specifically trying to lose weight until at least 2 months post partum. Many women lose the extra weight in the first 6-9 months by breastfeeding and eating when hungry.
Make sure to keep things in balance and talk to your doctor before starting a special diet.
Sources: KellyMom.com, La Leche League International, Mayo Clinic