It’s been four months since you welcomed your bundle of joy into the world, and now the questions and uncertainties about birth have given way to a new set of thoughts.
One that may be present on your mind as you possibly prepare to return to work is the question of how long you intend to breastfeed.
The first and easiest answer to this question is “as long as possible.” Mom and baby may wish to continue the breastfeeding process, which provides valuable, complete nutrition. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their babies’ lives and rely on a combination of breastfeeding and other nutrition sources for the first year of life. Doing so protects your baby from stomach problems, such as diarrhea, as well as frequent respiratory tract infections and ear infections to list a few.
Returning to work may not allow you the direct ability to breastfeed, so you may turn to alternative methods, such as breast pumping. This method allows you to pump your breasts while still providing baby with your milk that can be given via a bottle.
As you adjust to the need to breast pump, this may be a good time to speak with your lactation consultant about finding the right breast pump. Because these pumps can be expensive, renting a breast pump can sometimes be an option if purchase is not possible.
Take Time for Yourself
As you continue to breastfeed for your baby, you must take care of yourself as well. It’s important you continue to eat a healthy diet and keep yourself well hydrated since breastfeeding uses additional energy. Include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as whole grains. Drink plenty of water, milk and juice to stay hydrated and avoid beverages containing caffeine such as coffee, tea or soft drinks. Your healthcare provider might also recommend supplements, including prenatal vitamins and additional vitamin D to ensure you stay healthy during the breastfeeding experience.
Since breastfeeding uses energy, try to sleep when your child is sleeping or schedule naps throughout the day.
- Besides eating correctly, other habits can affect the quality of a woman’s breast milk. Smoking, for instance, can decrease the amount of milk a woman produces. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can also be present in breast milk, so if you smoke, now’s a good time to quit.
- If you are currently breastfeeding, speak with your physician before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications, since traces of these medications could be present in your milk and could negatively affect your baby’s health.