There’s no denying that breastfeeding is a completely natural experience shared between a mother and her baby.
Despite this biological fact, however, breastfeeding doesn’t typically happen without a wide range of issues, problems, and confusion. For this reason, our certified lactation experts at MamaNatal are here to provide answers which can help you throughout your nursing journey.
Yes, most women produce milk after their baby is born. The real question is: how exactly do you use this milk, and what problems can you face along the way?
To help guide you through the process, we’ve created a convenient lactation issues Q&A with six of the most pressing breastfeeding challenges faced by new parents.
Question #1: Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
When parents use formula, they benefit from precise measurements and bottles which clearly show how much milk their baby is consuming. For nursing moms, on the other hand, things aren’t so transparent.
Unless you choose to pump for your baby exclusively, there’s no way for you to see how much milk your child is receiving at your breast.
Thankfully, there are a few guidelines you can use to determine if your child’s nutrient needs are being met.
One of the most important tools for evaluating your milk supply is observing how much weight your little one is gaining or losing after birth.
While it’s not uncommon for your baby to lose some weight in the first few days after birth, they should begin to gain again rather quickly. Due to the importance of weight gain in evaluating your child’s food supply, it’s essential to make an appointment with their pediatrician soon after leaving the hospital.
Your doctor will probably request a few weight checks during the first couple of weeks to ensure your baby progressively gains the way they should be. On average, most babies gain around one ounce every day for the first three months of their lives.
If you’re concerned about your milk supply, there are a few lactation supplement ingredients you can take to increase milk production, including:
- Stinging Nettle
- Red Raspberry Extract
- Vitamin C
- Plus, Many More
Most moms and dads enter parenthood understanding that dirty diapers will be a ‘new normal’ in their day-to-day lives.
What they might not realize, however, is how vital counting those diapers is when you choose to nurse a baby. Keeping track of the number of wet diapers and bowel movements your child has are clear indicators they’re receiving enough milk.
Your baby should have approximately six wet diapers and three bowel movements every day from day five onward.
Above all, parents should use their mommy and daddy instincts. If your baby seems uncomfortable or fussy right after a feed, this could be a sign they don’t feel satisfied and need more milk.
There’s no shame in being concerned about whether your baby is receiving the nutrition they need.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about this topic, be sure to contact one of our international board-certified lactation consultants (ibclc), such as Sara Whitehouse, who can guide you through this complicated experience.
Question #2: Can a Baby Nurse with a Tongue-Tie?
A tongue-tie, also known as ankyloglossia, occurs when a thin piece of tissue attaches a baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth. While many babies with this condition can still nurse, they’re not always capable of doing so successfully.
Being tongue-tied can cause specific breastfeeding challenges for your baby. It can make latching more difficult, slow down weight gain, and cause difficulties keeping up with faster milk flow.
If your little one has ankyloglossia and cannot latch and suck correctly, it can also lead to uncomfortable nipple pain.
At MamaNatal, we are proud to have Dr. Colette Wiseman, MD, CLC on staff as our resident tongue-tie breastfeeding expert. If you are concerned about how your baby’s tongue may be affecting their ability to feed, she can assist you during an online lactation counseling session.
Question #3: What Types of Medicines Can I Take While Nursing, and Can I Breastfeed While Sick?
When it comes to raising babies, it’s easy to worry about all of the different ways they could become hurt, sick, or put in danger.
It’s common among nursing mothers to worry about whether it’s okay to continue breastfeeding while you’re sick. Despite these concerns, find comfort in the fact that most common ailments, such as colds and flus, can’t be passed through breastmilk.
In addition, your baby will be protected against many mild conditions by the helpful antibodies present in breastmilk.
In fact, Dr. Wiseman recently stated she feels strongly that if you contract COVID-19, your baby will have already been exposed. There’s no need to isolate further or discontinue nursing.
However, there are still certain situations that would require you to stop breastfeeding. These include:
- Contracting AIDs, HIV, or Tuberculosis
- You’re taking chemotherapy treatments or medications
- You’re undergoing radiation therapy
While on the subject of how a mother’s health can interfere with her breast milk, it’s important to address a topic which pops up on almost all lactation issue Q&A’s.
What medications are NOT safe to take while breastfeeding?
The best way to figure out if a particular type of medicine is okay while nursing is to ask your doctor directly. Some of the most common medications you should avoid include many prescription sleeping pills and pain relievers with aspirin.
For a comprehensive list of information about the effects various medications have on breastfeeding, be sure to take a look at the database created by the National Library of Medicine.
Kalani Robinson, one of our lactation specialists who focuses on postpartum care, can also help guide you through your breastfeeding questions about what to do when you’re sick or which medications are safe to consume.
Question 4: Can I Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?
It’s a common misconception that a woman is unable to get pregnant while breastfeeding. While it’s not always likely because a woman’s period doesn’t usually return until after she stops nursing, it is possible.
Studies have shown that when a baby is younger than 6 months old, there is less than a 2% chance of conceiving. After 6 months, this number increases to 6%.
If you want to avoid another pregnancy while nursing, be sure to use condoms or speak to your doctor about a safe birth control option.
Question 5: Will Giving My Baby a Pacifier Interfere with Latching?
While there’s no rule against offering your little one a pacifier during your breastfeeding journey, many certified lactation experts suggest waiting until they’re three to four weeks old.
This way, you can avoid nipple confusion and allow your baby optimal time to master latching.
Question 6: Can I Drink, Smoke, or Do Drugs While Breastfeeding?
Common searches for answers to breastfeeding questions revolve around whether a mother can still smoke, drink, or take illicit drugs while nursing.
Let’s start with smoking.
While it’s never a good idea to smoke around your baby and is in your best interest to quit, you should still continue breastfeeding your child if you’re finding it hard to stop. The antibodies in your milk will help protect them from getting sick or being affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
It’s important, however, to avoid smoking around your child at all times.
Alcohol can be safely consumed while nursing, as long as you’re only drinking minimal amounts. If you drink heavily, it’s essential to wait at least two hours before nursing again.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, illegal drugs are never a safe option. It’s vital to understand that certain types of substances, such as cocaine, marijuana, and heroin, are likely to cause poor feeding, seizures, tremors, or death.
All of the Answers to Breastfeeding Questions You Need to Know – All Within Reach
Wouldn’t it be nice if all the answers to breastfeeding questions we might have would show up at the same time our milk does? Regretfully, that’s not the case.
Thankfully, there’s a supportive community readily available at MamaNatal to help guide you through this process.
If there are still questions you want to ask that weren’t covered in this lactation issues Q&A, don’t be afraid to reach out and make an appointment for an online lactation counseling session with one of our certified lactation experts.