At times, you may have questions about how fit breastfeeding in your everyday life.
In this section we have organized information regarding breastfeeding and day-to-day activities you may have questions about.
If you are breastfeeding, you may feel a little bit more hungry and thirsty than before. You will need more calories to meet your nutritional needs while breastfeeding. Many things can impact your daily caloric needs, (for example, type of work you do, how much you exercise, medical conditions) . While breastfeeding, an additional 330 to 400 kilocalories (kcal) per day is recommended - equivalent to one small healthy breakfast/snack.
If you are on a special diet, it is important to talk to your provider about how to get enough vitamins and minerals.
Reminder: drinking lots of water to stay hydrated is equally important.
If you're still sore after the birth of your baby, you're bleeding heavily, or you have a breast infection, do not begin to exercise. If you’ve had a C-section, start exercising carefully and only after your postpartum appointment. This way you will have the opportunity to consult with your provider about the healing of your incision.
Even if you had a vaginal birth, always talk to your doctor before starting a postpartum exercise program. Finding an exercise that you enjoy and is right for you offers you many health benefits such as improved health and energy. It helps strengthen and tone abdominal muscles, boosts energy, may help prevent postpartum depression, helps you sleep better, and it also relieves stress. Moderate exercise can also help you lose the extra weight that you may have gained during pregnancy.
Exercise does not impact the quality or the amount of your breastmilk.
The following tips can help you be more comfortable when exercising as a breastfeeding mom:
Wear a comfortable support or sports bra. You can use nursing pads in case your breasts leak during exercise.
Pump or breastfeed before working out.
Ask your doctor about how and when to gradually begin exercising after giving birth to your baby.
Prioritizing family planning during breastfeeding is important. Talk with your partner and provider about protection method options. If not using a provider-recommended family planning method such as IUD, or oral contraceptives, etc., it is possible to get pregnant even while breastfeeding and shortly after you’ve had your baby. Experts recommend using family planning methods for 18 months to wait before having your next baby.
Your sex life does not need to be restricted while breastfeeding but you may need to make some adjustments to make sex more comfortable if you have the following:
Vaginal dryness. Some new mothers experience vaginal dryness after childbirth and during breastfeeding. This is because estrogen (a hormone that increases during pregnancy) levels are lower in a non-pregnant-state of your body. If you have vaginal dryness, you and your partner can try more foreplay and use water-based lubricants.
Leaking breasts. It is common for the breasts to leak or spray milk during sex, especially during orgasm. Feeding the baby or expressing breastmilk before sex can make breasts feel more comfortable and less likely to leak. If breasts do leak during sex, put pressure on nipples or have a towel nearby to catch the milk.
RECREATIONAL AND MEDICAL
It is not clear how marijuana affects breastfed babies. It is possible that through your breastmilk you may pass THC and other chemicals to your baby. Therefore, health experts strongly recommend that women who are pregnant and breastfeed do not use marijuana in any form (gummies, candy, muffins, cigarette, etc).
If you're struggling with substance use of any kind and want to quit reach out for help. SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service.
If you plan on breastfeeding, it is strongly recommended that you stop smoking or using e-cigarettes/vaping and other tobacco-based products. You can still breastfeed if you smoke because breast milk provides numerous health benefits and remains the most recommended food source for your baby, You must know, however, that the chemicals found in tobacco can pass to your baby through breast milk. Mothers who smoke also experience a decrease in your milk supply which leads to other breastfeeding challenges.
Important infant safety! Smoking (cigarette, marijuana, vaping, cigar) during pregnancy or having your baby exposed to smoke increases your baby's risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). To learn more Safer Sleep practices, visit here: BWPC Safer Sleep
Whether you are the breastfeeding parent or a caretaker and you smoke, the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to quit as soon as possible. Learn more about smoking, pregnancy, and resources to quit here:
The safest option for breastfeeding mothers is to avoid alcohol. The alcohol level in breastmilk is essentially the same as the alcohol level in a mother’s bloodstream.
Moderate alcohol consumption (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the baby. If you do consume alcoholic beverages, it is recommended that you wait at least 2 hours after consumption before nursing your baby because it can be detected in your breastmilk.
If you do drink alcohol, you do not have to stop breastfeeding your baby, however, consuming more than the 1 alcoholic drink is not recommended.
Some mothers feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. You have the right to breastfeed your baby wherever and whenever your baby is hungry. There are laws that protect breastfeeding mothers. Some of the tips below will make it easier to navigate public breastfeeding.
Wear comfortable clothes that allow easy access to your breasts, such as tops that pull up from the waist or button down.
Use a light blanket or scarf around your shoulders to cover anything you don't want to expose in public.
Breastfeed your baby in a sling (pictured below). Slings or other soft infant carriers are especially helpful for traveling. They make it easier to keep your baby comforted and close to you. But be aware that infant slings can be a suffocation danger for babies. Check with the Consumer Product Safety Commission for warnings before buying a sling.
Use a family lounge or dressing room in stores if you prefer to breastfeed in a private or quiet space.
Practice breastfeeding at home with the blanket or other covering techniques if you plan to use them so that you and your baby are comfortable breastfeeding that way.
Image Source: LittleBabyGear.Com / Example: of a breastfeeding sling
TIPS FOR HANDLING CRITICISM
If someone criticizes you for breastfeeding in public, remember that the law protects your right to feed your baby any location where you and your baby are authorized to be. You do not need to respond to anyone who criticizes you for breastfeeding. If you feel in danger, move away from the person criticizing you and look for people who can support you.
Remember that when you breastfeed, you are meeting your baby's needs. It isn't possible to stay home all the time and you should (and can) feel free to feed your baby while you are out and about. You should be proud of your commitment! Plus, no bottles mean fewer supplies to pack and no worries about getting the milk to the right temperature.
Talk to other breastfeeding persons about how they have handled criticism peacefully and successfully in public. While no one should ever criticize you for feeding your baby, it might help to know ahead of time what other people have done in a similar situation.
RETURNING TO WORK
What can I do during my pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding after returning to work?
Build your circle of support - Talk with other moms about breastfeeding while working.
Talk with your boss about your plans to breastfeed before you go on maternity leave.
Share "Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions site" with your boss for tips and solutions to support nursing mothers at work in all different types of workplaces.
Discuss different types of schedules with your boss, such as starting back part-time at first or taking split shifts. For tips on talking to your boss, read the "Business Case for Breastfeeding".
Know your rights and ask about available benefits and accommodations for breastfeeding parents.
If you are returning to work, try to pump your milk at the same time that your baby would breastfeed at home.
Make sure the child care facility or other caregivers you choose store your pumped breastmilk properly and feed it to your baby.
What can I do while on maternity leave to make breastfeeding more successful after I return to work?
Take as many weeks off as you can – consult with your doctor and review the relevant HR document.
Start practicing breast pump or hand express while you are still at home with your baby.
One month after birth you can start introducing a bottle and preparing your baby and caregivers for feeding without you from a bottle or cup. Your baby may be able to drink from a cup at 3 or 4 months old. For preterm babies use a spoon or cup.
Talk with your child care providers or other caregivers about your plans to breastfeed.
What can I do when I return to work to help ease the transition?
Keep talking with your boss about your schedule and what is or isn't working for you. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, most employers, with few exceptions, must offer a breastfeeding employee reasonable break times to pump for up to 1 year after her baby is born and a place other than a bathroom, to comfortably, safely, and privately express breastmilk. Learn more about how to protect your right to breastfeed.
When you arrive to pick up your baby from child care, see if you can take time to breastfeed your baby right away. This will give you and your baby time to reconnect before going home.