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Many of the breastfeeding benefits for mom and baby are well-known and well-documented—breastmilk helps protect babies from illness even lowers the risk of issues like asthma, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); your first milk supply called colostrum is often referred to as “liquid gold” for its infection prevention abilities; PLUS, there are benefits for you, mama: Breastfeeding helps you heal postpartum, medical costs could be lower if you breastfeed, and the act lowers the risk of issues like type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer down the road.
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"This is my superpower!" @caitregan _ Breastmilk contains antibodies and live white blood cells that protect against infections. So, it's good to keep nursing, even if you or baby is sick, as the number of white blood cells will increase in response to this. While it might not prevent all illnesses, breastmilk can provide that extra bit of defense for baby by providing potent antibodies made just for them. _ Find more tips for staying healthy, especially at this time at cdc.gov.
But there are larger societal boons, too. Breastfeeding is eco-friendly!
“As breastfeeding continues to gain popularity in pop culture and social platforms, more global benefits are being highlighted, like breastfeeding as a climate-smart decision,” says lactation consultant Yines Garcia-Taylor RN, IBCLC of Prenatal Yini.
But that hits an important point: While lists of breastfeeding benefits and images of moms and babies nursing might conjure up feel-good emotions, the act itself doesn’t always come naturally … and it’s not always easy.
“Many moms imagine breastfeeding to be effortless from the start when in reality the early days can be the most challenging. Every breastfeeding dyad is unique,” notes Garcia-Taylor.
Here, the five biggest challenges she finds clients have—and how to overcome each so that you can support your health, your baby’s health, and the health of the planet as a whole. A triple whammy.
Because you might think breastfeeding will come naturally, you might not *prep* for it or have the resources you need around you, but prenatal breastfeeding education is key for a successful breastfeeding journey, says Garcia-Taylor. “You don’t need the unsolicited horror breastfeeding stories. You need to gather your breastfeeding squad prenatally, surround yourself with other breastfeeding moms, or join local or virtual breastfeeding support groups.” La Leche, for one, has many online resources, including support groups and webinars. You could also reach out to a local lactation consultant. “Breastfeeding can feel very lonely or isolating if the right support is missing,” she explains. Pro tip: “Have your partner join in the learning process,” she suggests.
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"Breastfeeding is so hard.. I mean it’s really REALLY hard. I always forget that we all go through this...don’t get me wrong breastfeeding is so beautiful & I love it but it definitely has its struggles sometimes...I always feel like I want to give up, like I don’t feel like my body is mine you know?“ #WorldBreastfeedingWeek⠀ _⠀ What’s been the hardest part of your #breastfeedingjourney, mama. Fill us in below.⠀ 📸 c/o @annstreetstudio
It’s hard to accept those early postpartum days are all about rest. Snuggles, breastfeeding on demand, eating well, and resting when possible are key for your baby’s well-being, your well-being, and your milk supply, says Garcia-Taylor. “Everything else has to wait,” she says. It’s *hard* for new moms to let things like dishes, laundry, and groceries go. Try to accept help and focus on time with your new baby—it’ll help you adjust to the demands of breastfeeding and get into a groove.
“The most surprising challenge many new moms have after birth is the thought of not having enough milk for their baby,” explains Garcia-Taylor. “During the second night after birth, most babies cluster feed—they feed often in a short period of time,” she says. This can be worrisome for so many moms who think their milk supply is not enough. But guess what? This is normal, she says. Try to feed your baby on demand based on hunger cues.
Two things that *may* indicate a problem with milk supply? Weight gain problems for your baby and diaper output (less than 6 to 8 wet diapers a day after the first week). If you notice these issues, touch base with your healthcare provider.
Sure, at first, breastfeeding is new and different and might feel a bit uncomfortable. But pain is not something you should endure every time you feed. “If you are experiencing any nipple pain while breastfeeding, please reach out for professional help,” says Garcia-Taylor. Via the Affordable Care Act, most insurance companies must cover preventative lactation services. “The earlier you address any breastfeeding issues the more enjoyable breastfeeding becomes.” You can find an IBCLC at www.ilca.org.
Is that a thing? Unfortunately, it is! Hormonal fluctuations persist postpartum, especially if you breastfeed, meaning your pregnancy skin issues may continue as well. The fluctuations can sap skin lipids and cause you to experience dry, dull patches, especially on your face.
While it's tempting to reach for your pre-pregnancy skin treatments for a fix, choosing breastfeeding-friendly products is as important as choosing pregnancy-safe products. It's been said before but worth repeating, anything you eat or put on your skin can be passed to your baby through your breastmilk.
“Our skin is the largest organ of the human body,” says Garcia-Taylor. And any time you put something on it, there’s a chance that said product is absorbed into your bloodstream (with the risk that it could potentially negatively impact both mom and baby). Another consideration is that skin-to-skin will cause baby to come into contact with any products you use and may cause irritation, sensitivity, or an allergic reaction.
To reduce the dryness and inflammation you experience during breastfeeding, use a mild cleanser and a breast-feeding safe moisturizer that is fragrance-free with natural lipids like sunflower seed oil and contains sea buckthorn to refine the patches.
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Our nightly routine. Pia twirls my hair and touches my face, exploring every freckle, while I nourish her growing body. . How important it is to put good things on and inside my own body to ensure Pia gets the best, and isn’t ingesting any gross chemicals by doing something as sweet and simple as touching my face. We eat a really healthy vegetarian diet, and I use all natural skincare. . Take a look at some of your products. A lot of the ingredients are hormone disrupters! Choose things that are safe for you and baby, because these moments are way too precious to have a worry in your mind (we have enough of those already, don’t we?) . . What products do you use that are clean and healthy for you and baby? I would love to know! ———————————————————————————