Lactation consultants get all kinds of questions. In our previous article about the three most common questions for lactation consultants, we talked about some questions directly related to breastfeeding – worries about producing enough milk, sore nipples and guidance when sick. However, lactation consultants are accustomed to hearing all types of questions and concerns from new moms – and these dedicated professionals can help you and your baby have a better, easier experience with breastfeeding.
We interviewed one of our Medela lactation consultants to get some expert insights on four more of the most common questions lactation consultants are often asked:
Is it True that Breastfeeding Can Make Your Breasts Deformed or Saggy?
This is another one of those widespread breastfeeding myths. The truth is that breastfeeding does not deform your breasts at all. Breastfeeding is not to blame for any changes in the shape or consistency of a mother’s breasts. In fact, any “sagging” or other changes to the breasts happen not during breastfeeding, but during pregnancy.
From the first moment of pregnancy, the breasts start to develop glandular tissue and breasts may become one or two sizes bigger. They will go back to their normal size after you have weaned, but it will take a while. Typically, it takes as much time as you were pregnant plus as much time as you have breastfed.
So if you were pregnant to full term and you breastfed for a year, it is going to take your breasts at least 21 months to return to normal. The best thing is not to think about it, but to enjoy the period of breastfeeding. Your breasts will change constantly throughout your life – and with breastfeeding perhaps just a little bit more.
What Should I Do if My Baby Prefers Feeding from One Breast?
Every mom has one breast that milk tends to flow from a little easier than the other. Most of the babies prefer this better flowing side. In addition, some babies prefer to lie on one side more than on the other side, and this is just the way it is. To make sure both breasts are drained properly in order to maintain optimal milk production, start with the preferred breast for 1 to 2 minutes, then change to the other side until the baby gets off. Now you can offer the first side again. In case your baby does not like to change the side on which he is lying, just take him in the same position from one breast to the other.
What Should I Do if My Baby Isn’t Latching Properly?
Problems with your baby’s latch are not unusual. Remember, breastfeeding is a learned behavior but sucking is an instinct. In addition, the baby has a so-called rooting reflex, which means he will turn his head towards the face or body part of another person as soon as somebody is coming close to his face. The baby instinctively will try to latch on – but sometimes the baby does not do this in a way that is comfortable for the mom or efficient for breastfeeding. Whenever latching on and breastfeeding is painful, you should see a lactation consultant. She will watch you and your baby when breastfeeding and then be able to tell you what to change and how to do this.
Is there Anything that I Shouldn’t Eat or Drink While Breastfeeding?
Your body needs a lot of energy to produce breast milk, so make sure you eat a well-balanced diet. You may eat what you are used to. The breastfeeding period is not the time to change your nutrition.
In case your baby does not like something that you eat, he will show you a few hours after the breastfeeding session. He will be either fussy or even crying for a while. Think of what you have eaten which you have not had before and then leave it out of your diet for four full days. Try again and observe the reaction of your baby. This can be a useful way to eliminate certain foods that are disagreeable to your baby.
For example, some babies don’t like it if the mother eats a lot of cabbage, but others do not mind. Some babies don’t mind if the mother eats chocolate but others do. Some babies are ok if the mother eats a lot of cheese, others are not. Every baby is an individual person and already as a newborn has certain preferences when we talk about mom’s nutrition.
Regarding beverages make sure to avoid alcohol most of the time, as it is just not healthy for the baby’s development. In situations where you think you need to have a glass of wine, for example at a special celebration, make sure you breastfeed your baby before you are going to have the wine. Then wait for at least 3 hours before you breastfeed next time. Some mothers say when drinking sage or mint tea, their milk production decreased. Some moms report a strange reaction from the baby when they drink milk, coffee, or black or green tea. So, again, it depends on your baby what you should drink.
Breastfeeding is a learning process, as you gradually get better at breastfeeding while also adapting to your baby’s unique needs and preferences. This is why many moms talk about breastfeeding in terms of a “bonding” experience – you and your baby are getting to know each other, and you are getting to know your body better. Don’t be afraid to get breastfeeding support if needed – including calling on the services of your friendly local lactation consultant.
If you have any questions for our Medela Lactation Consultants, please add your comments below or join the conversation at the Medela Facebook Community.