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Breastfeeding 101: What to Expect from Lactation

The arrival of your newborn brings a whirlwind of emotions, new experiences, and questions galore. One of the most significant decisions mothers face is whether or not to breastfeed, and all of the questions that follow! In this blog, we’ll answer five common questions that women face when it comes to lactation, including what to expect and how their medical provider can provide support in making the best choices possible for mother and baby.   

What are the benefits to breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding offers a multitude of benefits for both mothers and their babies. For newborns, breast milk is an ideal source of nutrition. It’s perfectly designed to meet their specific needs, containing all the essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats for optimal growth and development. Breast milk also boasts a powerful arsenal of antibodies, acting as nature’s first immunization system. These antibodies help protect babies against common childhood illnesses such as ear infections, respiratory infections, and diarrhea, giving their immature immune system a crucial head start.

Mothers also reap significant benefits from breastfeeding. The process promotes an array of hormonal changes, including the release of oxytocin, which fosters feelings of love and attachment between you and your baby. Studies have shown that breastfeeding can also lead to quicker postpartum weight loss and reduce risk of developing certain cancers, such as breast and ovarian cancer, as well as type 2 diabetes. 

How long should a mother breastfeed?

The ideal duration of breastfeeding is a personal decision, influenced by your individual circumstances and preferences.Experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding alongside the introduction of appropriate complementary foods for at least one year. 

However, this is just a guideline. Some mothers may choose to breastfeed for a shorter or longer duration based on their comfort level, work schedule, or other factors. The key is to have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider about your goals and any concerns you may have. They can provide personalized guidance and support you in making an informed decision about breastfeeding that works best for you and your baby.

When should a mother avoid breastfeeding?

While breastfeeding offers many benefits for both mother and baby, there are situations where temporary or complete avoidance might be necessary. Certain medications or medical conditions, like untreated active tuberculosis or specific types of cancer treatments, may require consulting with a healthcare professional to determine the safest course of action. 

Ultimately, your doctor will be able to advise you based on your specific situation and the potential risks and benefits of breastfeeding in each case. Remember, open communication is key. Don’t hesitate to discuss any medications or medical conditions you have with your doctor to ensure the healthiest path for you and your baby.

What are some steps every expecting mother should take to plan for breastfeeding?

Here are some key steps every expecting mother who plans to breastfeed should take:

  • Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power! Enroll in lactation classes or workshops offered by your hospital or local birthing centers. These sessions will equip you with proper positioning techniques for optimal latching, address common challenges, and alleviate any anxieties you might have.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Consider connecting with a lactation consultant. These healthcare professionals specialize in breastfeeding support and can provide personalized guidance throughout your pregnancy and postpartum journey. They can address any questions or concerns you have and help troubleshoot any difficulties you might encounter after delivery.
  • Gather Essential Supplies: Invest in comfortable nursing bras that provide adequate support without being restrictive. Nursing pillows can also be helpful for positioning your baby during feeds. Nursing pads can help manage leaks in the early days of breastfeeding when your milk supply is regulating. Familiarize yourself with the resources available at your hospital, such as lactation consultants, who can offer invaluable support during your initial breastfeeding attempts.
  • Build a Support System: Surround yourself with people who will encourage and advocate for your breastfeeding goals. This could include your partner, family members, friends, or a breastfeeding support group. Having a strong support system can make a world of difference, especially during challenging times.
  • Embrace the Learning Curve: Remember, breastfeeding is a learned skill, both for you and your baby. There will be moments of frustration, but with patience, practice, and the right support, you can establish a successful breastfeeding relationship. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance from your healthcare provider or lactation consultant whenever needed.

What should I expect from my doctor?

Your doctor plays a vital role in supporting your lactation and breastfeeding journey. Here’s how they can help:

  • Preconception and Prenatal Guidance: During your prenatal visits, your doctor can discuss your breastfeeding goals and answer any questions you have. They can also assess any potential anatomical concerns that might impact breastfeeding and refer you to a lactation consultant if necessary.
  • Delivery and Postpartum Support: Immediately after delivery, your doctor can help initiate breastfeeding by placing your baby skin-to-skin with you, which promotes natural latching. They can also assess your baby’s tongue and lip tie, which can sometimes affect breastfeeding success.
  • Monitoring Weight Gain: Regular weight checks for your baby ensure they’re receiving enough breast milk and thriving. Your doctor will track their growth patterns and advise on any adjustments needed to your feeding routine if necessary.
  • Addressing Challenges: If you encounter difficulties like latching problems, sore nipples, or low milk supply, your doctor can offer guidance and troubleshooting tips. They may also recommend specific positions or techniques to improve breastfeeding efficiency.
  • Collaboration with Lactation Consultants: Doctors often work hand-in-hand with lactation consultants. They can refer you to a lactation consultant if you require more specialized support or have complex breastfeeding challenges.
  • Addressing Medical Concerns: If you have any underlying medical conditions or require medications, your doctor can advise on their compatibility with breastfeeding and suggest alternative medications if necessary.
  • Emotional Support: Breastfeeding can be emotionally demanding at times. Your doctor can offer reassurance,address anxieties, and celebrate your breastfeeding milestones. They are there to support your overall well-being as you navigate this journey.

At Women’s Integrated Healthcare, we aim to support women through every stage of their healthcare journey. Contact us today! 

  

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