Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Expecting series: Breast is best [and, oh yeah, it's free]

Part one of this "Expecting series", introduced in my previous post What your wallet can expect when you're expecting, is taking a closer look at the many benefits of breastfeeding your baby.

We all know that "breast is best"-- even the formula companies will tell you that much-- but for one reason or another some of us don't opt for this best option. Breastmilk is nutritious and natural for baby while also being super healthy for us mommas (see this article from La Leche League).

All health aspects aside, let's talk about the shear fact that breast milk is free! It is estimated that a family who does not breastfeed, spends $1500 (on average) on formula in a year.

Although I've successfully nursed all three of my babies (still nursing baby #3), that doesn't mean that it's always been easy! Problems latching on in the first days, problems with engorgement in the first weeks and problems with mastitis (ouch!) in the first months with my first born. And lower milk supplies with my second two.

But, trust me, breastfeeding is not only bad. Not at all in fact. There's the one-of-a-kind mother baby bonding, the still-eat-like-you're-pregnant-diet, the weight loss and much more.

Here are some of my own personal suggestions for setting yourself up for breastfeeding success:

-Persevere! A lot of mothers have high expectations that they will be able to nurse their babies perfectly from the start, and to be honest, that just doesn't usually happen! It takes everyone-- mother and baby-- a few days or even a few weeks to get used to the whole breastfeeding thing. Don't give up! And don't be afraid to seek help from an experienced mother or lactation consultant.

-Pump! For me, the breast pump has always been this illusive, kind of creepy machine. It's unnatural and it make these awful, unnatural noises! However your breast pump can be your friend. Many times pumping is necessary to keep up your milk supply, so don't hesitate to use it.

-Eat! Drink! Rest! These three ingredients really are key to breastfeeding success. Nursing your baby takes a lot of energy out of you. You'll need to make sure you are taking care of yourself by eating enough, drinking enough (this is a biggie!) and resting enough. Also, make sure you are drinking mostly water. Remember that some beverages, including coffee and tea, dehydrate and can be counterproductive to your hydration needs.

-Supplement! If you are having any problems with your milk supply, you must talk to your doctor about the natural supplements that are available to help specifically with this. Often times it can be a quick fix, something as simple as a couple of capsules a day and you'll likely see great results. Mothers milk tea (see "my baby recommendations" at bottom of page) has been extremely helpful to me!

-Seek help! Some moms experience discomfort or even pain when breastfeeding and, because this is not the norm, seek medical help if you experience this. Sometimes there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the discomfort as well as a reasonable solution. Don't suffer through it, seek the medical help you need.

-Celebrate! Breastfeeding your baby does come at a price. You can't just go out a have a couple of drinks with the girls. You can't smoke. You can't drink much caffeine. You need to stay near to your baby most of the time or lug along your handy (albeit creepy) pump wherever you go. However, breastfeeding moms should celebrate the wonderful gift they are giving to their child, the most healthy feeding option available, one that is natural and free. So, take time to revel at these revelations! Treat yourself to a smoothie next time you're out, paint your nails red or buy yourself a new bag. Whatever you do, celebrate these accomplishments and sacrifices required to be a breastfeeding mom!


  1. Glad to read that someone else had issues with lower milk supply the second time around!

  2. I had to use the creepy pump so I could continue breastfeeding my little one while I was at work. I hated doing it but knowing how much it benefited her helped me persevere! I was able to successful breastfeed for 13 months :) It also helped some of the mommy guilt I felt about going to work - I knew I was still taking care of her while I was working!