Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The 4 Most Cautionary Times for a Breastfeeding Mother

Breastfeeding rates are on the rise.  The initiation of breastfeeding increased from 74.6% in 2008 to 76.9% in 2009 (Reference). However, we still see a trend in breastfeeding rates decreasing as babies age. 47.2% of infants were still being breastfed at 6 months of age, and 25.5% of infants were breastfed at 12 months of age. It is recommended to breastfeed until 1 year of age, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding babies until age two. There are a few times when moms should watch out for bad advice or potential self-doubt that could jeopardize the breastfeeding relationship.

1. The early days
The first few days, weeks, and months: they can be incredibly challenging for any new parent.  The most important thing is for the mother to have confidence in herself during this period. Yes, you will make enough milk.  It seems like your baby is eating all the time and this is normal.  Baby's tummy is the size of a marble at birth and it only takes a few drops of milk to satisfy baby's appetite.  Let your baby eat on-demand, limit the use of pacifiers (or avoid them completely until baby is three weeks of age), and do not try to pump milk until your baby is at least 3-weeks-old.  Remember that almost all babies have fussy times of the day and this does not mean that these babies are hungry or not getting enough milk.

2. Going back to work
Talk with your employer about your desire to breastfeed and your plan to express milk during the work day.  Ideally this conversation should happen before you go on maternity leave.  Many employers are already expecting to discuss breastfeeding with you and the company may already have dedicated lactation rooms.  Some mothers find it challenging to get enough time to pump milk during the work day.  It is best to express milk 3 times during a nine hour work day: plan for a morning, lunch-time, and afternoon break.  Bring along a picture of your baby or an article of baby's clothing (the smell of your baby can speed milk let-down). If you are having trouble pumping enough milk, consider adding a pumping session right away in the morning or before you go to bed.  You should also evaluate if you're getting adequate pump breaks during the work day, or if your daycare is over-feeding your baby (feeding 1-1.5oz per hour is generally recommended). It is important to express milk often to prevent breast infections, engorgement, and reduced milk supply.  You can also offer to nurse your baby during daycare drop-off and immediately at pick-up.

3. Your baby turns 6-months old
Babies typically start consuming semi-solid foods around 6-months of age. Dehydrated cereals mixed with breast milk are often selected as baby's first food; however, there are many other nutritious foods to offer your baby at this age. Talk with your doctor about recommended food choices during your baby's 4 or 6 month appointment.  Infant cereals can be mixed with squash or fruits to avoid the need to express additional breastmilk. A nursing mother's menstrual cycle may return as baby begins to consume more solid foods.  It is important to nurse on-demand and consume foods high in iron (try oatmeal) to prevent a dip in milk supply during menstruation.

4. Your baby is 1 year old
Your baby may be one-year-old but that doesn't mean you have to be finished breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding should continue for as long as the mother and child desire.  The WHO recommends breastfeeding until age two.  As your child becomes more interested in other foods and liquids you may begin to nurse your child only in the morning and evening.  There is a growing acceptance for extended breastfeeding and you should be weary of anyone who suggests you should wean your child simply because he has reached a certain age.

Have confidence in yourself, relax (stress hinders milk let-down), and talk with other mom's who are nursing their babies.

Nursing your baby releases Oxytocin (the bonding hormone).  Use this special time with your child to relax.


  1. Thanks for this info! Our first is due in Dec and I plan to EBF.My attitude about it right now is to not give up because I think its whats best for my baby. I know its not always easy in the beginning!

  2. These are great! There is so much potential for misinformation to affect breastfeeding. There are a lot of prevailing negative attitudes unfortunately. Its so important to get help when you need it. I would also add teeth- just because baby has teeth doesn't mean you should stop. Proper latch- you won't get bit. I am still bf (18+ months). It helps I have support, I don't work and he loves to eat and drink water!