The moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here; you get to hold your baby in your arms. Many new mothers imagine breastfeeding and bonding with their new family member, but the reality doesn’t always match the picture in your head. Breastfeeding can be harder than it seems, and it might take some time for both of you to “get the hang of it.” Here are some tips to help the process.
Remember, you’re providing sustenance to your child and, to do that, you have to take care of yourself! Now is not the time to try fad diets or “lose the baby weight.” Shoot for a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, lean protein like beans and meats, and whole grains. Talk to your doctor about getting enough healthful calories if you have dietary restrictions. It’s also important to get plenty of calcium from foods like cheese and milk.
You also need more calories than normal while breastfeeding – around 500 calories from healthful sources is optimal. Increase your fluid intake and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Keep a water bottle handy to replenish after feedings, and many women find keeping a tub of lip balm close at hand is good for lips that may crack due to dehydration.
Much of what you eat passes into your breastmilk, and some medications may be harmful to a developing baby. Be sure to bring a list of all your current medications and discuss them with your child’s pediatrician or your obstetrician. Never start on new medications without a doctor’s approval.
Other don’ts while breastfeeding are excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. Parental smoking is a risk factor for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and can cause respiratory problems. Moderate caffeine consumption is okay during breastfeeding, but don’t overdo it.
You might find that eating certain foods seems to bother your baby. If your baby gets excessively fussy or gassy after you eat certain foods, eliminate them and see if the problem improves.
Most importantly, relax. Breastfeeding may seem challenging at times. Don’t stress. Try to see breastfeeding as a time to bond with your baby while providing them with important nutrients. If you’re having difficulty breastfeeding, or it seems like your baby is having difficulty gaining weight, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or call our office for further guidance.