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Congratulations! You're going to have a baby and you've made the decision to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is an amazing, natural way to nourish and bond with your little one. But what should you know ahead of time to be prepared for it?
Developing a Milk Supply
New mothers' milk will generally come in in about two to five days after giving birth. Since newborn babies only require a few teaspoons per feeding before your milk comes in fully, don't feel bad about not having a strong supply right away. It's perfectly natural. Your baby will have enough from your breasts in those first few days.
Once your milk comes in, you'll need to focus on building a supply for your baby as they get older and require more milk per feeding. It may sound like a challenge but rest assured that it's as simple as offering your breast to your baby every two to four hours.
A good diet and proper hydration are very important to building your milk supply, as well. While you were pregnant, your baby required you to consume about an extra 200 calories a day for their development. Once your baby has been born and you've developed a milk supply, your daily caloric requirements are even higher. Breastfeeding mothers generally require an extra 300 calories a day to keep up with milk production.
While you're breastfeeding, be sure to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits with your proteins, fats, and carbohydrates and drink plenty of water. Don't forget that everything you consume will get passed on to your baby through your milk so be sure to avoid an excess of things like caffeine and alcohol, as well as any medications that haven't been approved by your doctor.
If you drink alcohol, don't breastfeed until you've stopped drinking and have adequately replenished your system with water. Caffeine should be regulated to less than 25 ounces of coffee over the course of a day and not more than five ounces at a time.
Dealing with Discomfort
It's common to experience soreness in your breasts while your milk is coming in or while you're breastfeeding. Using a warm to hot compress before feeding and a cool to cold compress afterward can help soothe the pain. A bit of blood in the milk from time to time while pumping is perfectly normal and nothing at all to worry about.
Occasionally a mother's breast or breasts may become infected, called mastitis. This is a painful but common problem and clears up quickly with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor that are safe for breastfeeding mothers. The important thing to remember is to keep breastfeeding as it will help clear up the infection faster and poses no risk to your baby. Ibuprofen and warm compresses should keep you comfortable while it clears up.
Yeast infections are another easily treatable, common problem associated with breastfeeding. If you notice that your baby's tongue is white, and it doesn't wipe off like your milk normally would, then you may have a yeast infection. Your doctor will prescribe you with an oral anti-fungal medication that will clear it up in no time.
Speak with a Specialist
At AdventHealth, if you've given birth, you can generally expect a lactation specialist to visit you within the first couple of hours after delivery. Our care team is dedicated to providing you and your baby with the best possible care before and after birth.
Please visit our website for more resources during your journey to motherhood.