Among the host of questions new mothers face, many revolve around breastfeeding. And it’s worth getting up to speed on the ins and outs, since breastfeeding is the recommended feeding method for most babies.
You may be wondering if you’ll have to change your diet to enhance the quality of your breast milk, if you can breastfeed as an adoptive mother or if you can have a glass of wine while nursing.
Here are some of the most pressing questions answered for all the new moms or moms-to-be.
Q: Can you really pump and dump?
A: If you’re eager to have a glass of wine after abstaining for nine months, you’ve probably heard the term “pump and dump,” which refers to the process of expressing your breast milk, then discarding it if you’ve had alcohol to drink.
But is doing so really necessary? It depends.
The alcohol level in your milk is about the same as the level in your blood, therefore pumping and dumping doesn’t speed removal of alcohol from milk. If you have one drink, you’ll need to wait two hours before it clears your body and you can safely breastfeed your baby, but it’s unlikely you’ll need to pump and dump.
However, if you have multiple drinks or have alcohol right before you need to express your milk, you may need to pump and discard your milk. Keep in mind that having two or more drinks would take about four to five hours to clear the body. Consuming more than one alcoholic beverage per day is not recommended since it has the potential to hamper an infant’s growth and development.
Q: Can you breastfeed and drink caffeine?
A: As is the case with consuming caffeine during pregnancy, having moderate amounts of caffeine while breastfeeding may be okay for most women. However, your doctor may recommend you avoid caffeine (or significantly limit it) right after your child is born or if your child was born premature.
If you do have caffeine, stick to 200 milligrams (about 2 cups of coffee) or less per day and talk with your doctor to ensure it’s okay for you and your baby.
Q: How should moms handle breastfeeding around other kids?
A: If you have other little ones at home, you may be wondering how you’re going to approach the subject of breastfeeding. They’re likely to ask questions about what you’re doing and why, and it’s likely they’ll hang around to watch breastfeeding sessions, too.
Approaching it straightforwardly is best by explaining that it is something mommies do. You can also emphasize how incredible our bodies are, she adds.
Q: Are there certain diet recommendations for breastfeeding moms?
A: It’s always important to fuel your body with a variety of nutritious foods, especially while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. With that in mind, there are some things you may want to know when it comes to your eating habits and nursing.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, some studies show that a woman’s diet quality is directly related to the nutritional quality of her breast milk. It’s best to stick with whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and to avoid foods high in added sugars and saturated fats like soda, packaged desserts and fried foods.
When it comes to seafood, aim for two to three servings per week, but avoid fish with high amounts of mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and Ahi tuna. You should also check for local fish advisories in your area.
Lastly, staying hydrated is very important while breastfeeding – many moms even notice that they are thirstier when nursing. To make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, some experts recommend drinking a glass of water every time you breastfeed.
Q: How can a mother know when her baby is getting enough to eat?
A: There’s not a day that goes by that a parent doesn’t ask this question when meeting with a medical professional.
In short, the term “milk drunk” can be helpful when trying to understand your child’s hunger. You can tell when your newborn has had enough to eat because they will look like they are in a drowsy and relaxed state. At the beginning of a feeding, their hands are likely to be curled up and tight and they’ll appear more alert. By the end of the feeding, their hands will soften and open up, and they’ll be more relaxed.
For reference, most newborns have an average of 8 to 12 feedings per day, or a feeding every two to three hours. During feedings, most babies breastfeed 10 to 15 minutes on each breast. Of course, these are the average numbers, and every baby is different.
Another way to gauge if your child is getting enough to eat is by observing his or her diaper. The frequency varies from baby to baby, but it’s normal to see a bowel movement soon after every feeding, less as they get older. In newborns, urination should occur every one to three hours or as little as four to six times a day. If your child is having less than four wet diapers a day or irregular bowel movements, see your doctor.
Q: Can women who are breastfeeding get pregnant?
A: Most doctors recommend waiting at least one month after giving birth to start having sex again. Your body is going to need time to heal and it’s likely you may not feel up to it until then (or even later).
Once you do start having sex again, it is possible (even though you’re breastfeeding) for you to get pregnant if you’re not using some form of birth control. Talk with your OBGYN about which birth control method is right for you, and always consult with your doctor before having sex following a C-section or vaginal birth.
Q: Does breast surgery restrict women from breastfeeding?
A: Many women often wonder if a previous breast or nipple surgery – like breast reduction, lifts or augmentation – will impact their chances of being able to breastfeed. The answer depends on the type of surgery you had since some surgeries affect milk supply more than others.
The good news is, regardless of the type of surgery, most women will be able to breastfeed in some capacity.
Whether you’ve had breast reduction or breast augmentation surgery, if the nipple and areola were not removed from the breast, you’re less likely to have milk supply issues.
If you’ve had breast surgery, you’ll want to monitor your baby to make sure they’re gaining the recommended amounts of weight and, if not, you may need to supplement with formula or donor milk, or you will need to work with a lactation consultant to learn about other ways of increasing milk production.
Q: Can women who adopt breastfeed?
A: Nowadays, there are many breastfeeding options – even for moms who’ve adopted.
Although they have not been approved for lactation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, certain medications can stimulate milk production. Some mothers also use herbal medications meant to help with milk supply. Remember, though, that herbal supplements are not regulated in the United States and you should consult with your doctor before using them.
In addition to any recommended medications, you’ll need to start stimulating your nipples and breasts with a breast pump device every two or three hours starting about a month before the baby arrives. The more you do it, the more milk you will produce.
The most important thing to do is to start thinking about whether or not you want to breastfeed as an adoptive mother early on and talk with your doctor about your options.
MountainView Hospital offers a breastfeeding class, Breast Is Best, to help expecting parents learn tips for successful breastfeeding techniques and to address any additional questions and concerns. To register for an upcoming class, please visit our classes and events page.