Caring for yourself while taking care of a baby can be a challenge. The basics of good health are eating well, drinking plenty of fluids and resting well. These always play an important role in maintaining good health and apply even more when you are breastfeeding and caring for your baby.
Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during the breastfeeding period:
Eat and drink properly
- Consult your Food Guide and choose a range of foods to ensure you have a healthy diet. Eat medium to large portions referring to the recommended daily servings. This diet plan will provide your baby with the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development and the energy you need to take care of yourself and your baby. Some foods may affect the taste of your breast milk, but there is no need to avoid specific foods. If you think your baby is reacting to a food you have eaten, avoid eating it for a few days and try eating it again. If allergies are part of your family history, talk to your doctor or a dietitian.
- Do not go on a diet. Your body needs more calories right now, not less. The weight you have gained during your pregnancy provides your body with the energy it needs to make breast milk. Give your body time to recover from pregnancy. Breastfeeding helps reduce the uterus to the size it had before pregnancy.
- Drink a lot of liquid. Limit your intake of caffeine and sugar. Water, milk, fruit and vegetable juices are good choices for you. Try to drink a glass of water each time you breastfeed to replace the fluid your baby has had.
Like a good diet, adequate rest is essential and will give you energy. You have given birth and you are adjusting to your new responsibilities. In addition, you go from pregnancy to postpartum and your hormonal rate is in the adjustment phase. It is therefore normal to experience fatigue in these circumstances.
New moms feel tired for many other reasons:
- they do too much, too fast;
- they lack rest;
- they do not have enough time to eat and drink properly; or
- they do not have enough help with housework and child care.
To increase your rest time, you can:
- Sleep in the same room as your baby.
- Sleep or sleep when your baby is sleeping.
- Ask for help with housework and child care.
- Breastfeed more during the day and less during the night if possible.
What should I avoid during the breastfeeding period?
Anything you eat can be passed on to your baby through breast milk. During the breastfeeding period, the following steps are recommended:
- Avoid drinking a lot of alcohol (if you have a drink on occasion, delay the two-hour feeding time with a glass of alcohol).
- Avoid smoking and being near people who smoke while nursing. Nicotine lodges in breast milk and is harmful to you and your child, as is second-hand smoke.
- Smoke outside your home and away from your baby if you have to smoke (breastfeed before smoking to reduce the amount of nicotine your baby is receiving).
- Be cautious about the choice of medicines you take. Talk to your doctor about any medications he or she prescribes and tell him or her that you are breastfeeding. Most drugs are not contraindicated for breastfeeding mothers, while others are. Medicinal herbs can act like drugs and produce effects on you and your child. Find out which of these substances can be consumed during your breastfeeding period.
Do I have to give special care to my breasts during the breastfeeding period?
Here are some tips to avoid the common problems associated with breastfeeding:
To avoid irritations and cracks in the nipples
Some women avoid irritations and crevices in the nipples by extracting a few drops of breast milk with which they gently rub their nipples after feeding. Others have found that applying a small amount of modified lanolin after feeding is a good prevention. Here are some additional tips:
- Avoid washing your nipples with soap.
- Avoid putting cream on your nipples unless it is recommended.
- Use cotton breast pads.
- Avoid plastic liners.
To prevent clogging of milk ducts
If you notice a firm, painful bump on your breast, you may have an obstructed milk duct. This problem occurs when milk does not flow properly. You can continue to breastfeed since breastfeeding helps to solve this type of problem.
Here are some tips that will help you in this situation:
- Wear an opening cup bra.
- Avoid wearing a bra with frame.
- If you wear a regular bra, slip it under and not over your breast while nursing.
- Change the position of your baby during feeding.
- Make sure your baby takes your breast properly.
- Let your infant suckle one breast until it is empty before moving on to the other breast.
- Avoid wearing tight clothes.
- Rest often.
To prevent mastitis
An untreated duct obstruction can lead to a breast infection called mastitis. If this is the case, you experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and headache. Your breast may be red and warm to the touch. Talk to a health professional about the appropriate treatment. You can avoid mastitis by observing the following guidelines:
- Breastfeed regularly and frequently.
- Extract your milk if you skip a feed.
- Wash your hands after changing the diaper, using the toilet, and before touching your breasts.
- Change the cups of your bra frequently.
If you need help with breastfeeding, talk to your doctor or public health nurse or find out what resources exist in your community for new mothers. Lactation consultants specializing in breastfeeding support offer their services in most cities.