Breastfeeding Basics

  • How do I find my breastfeeding bestie?

    It’s no secret. Life as a new mom can be lonely. And that loneliness is terrible for new moms and can impact their postpartum experience.

    It really helps in the early days to find at least one or two moms you connect with that “get it.” Its great if you have family or friends who also have young children. But it’s even better if you their child is close in age to your child, you have a similar feeding goal, you live in close proximity, you share a religious background or even a cultural background. Sometimes having someone “like you,”- in which ever way empowers you- in your corner can make a huge difference.

    Especially when it comes to your feeding goals. Whether you choose to breastfeed, formula feed, pump and bottle feed or your own unique combo, support is critical to your success.

    But life as a new mom is lonely. Especially in the first days and weeks when your life is mostly baby care, feeding, mom care and resting at home and the occasional appointment or outing.

    And if you’ve chosen to breastfeed, it can definitely get boring (yes. i said it. pumping too). Especially in the newborn stage when nursing sessions can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes (or longer! I’m looking at you clusterfeeding).

    Day to day challenges may arise that may have you questioning your choices, no matter how strong your will. Having a friend/cheerleader in your corner who really gets what you’re going will help you keep your goals in the focus. They can also affirm things that are normal or not and also suggest solutions, tools or resources you maybe hadn’t thought of. They can also keep you flexible in your expectations and help bring light and laughter when things start to get rough.

    Once you feel up for it, getting out of the
    house and into your community is a great way to build your mom skills and find
    that breastfeeding bestie you need to get you through the toughest times.

    Storytime/ Playgroups

    Your local library or bookstore may have a
    storytime or playgroup for young children. In Prince George’s County, MD, the
    public library system hosts story time based on your child’s age. This can be a
    great place to meet moms of babies the same age as your baby and to get some
    much needed adult socialization.

    Local Lactation Resources

    Check with your local birth center and lactation resources for classes, support groups and events in your community.

    In Maryland, Special Beginnings Womens and Birth Center is a great start. In addition to on staff Lactation Consultants, they also have a breastfeeding boutique, teach a Breastfeeding Basics Class and host a Mamas Group for new moms on the first Friday of each month.

    Lactation Consultants and Counselors

    Some private lactation consultants host
    their own support groups for the breastfeeding moms they are working with.
    Crowned and Cradled hosts a monthly support group in the Bowie, MD area.

    Awareness Events

    Events during awareness weeks like World Breastfeeding Week and Black Breastfeeding Week are a great place to find like-minded parents when it comes to your feeding goals. You can also practice feeding your baby in public with the support of other moms who know how it feels right by your side.

    So I encourage you to get out in your
    community and connect with the new moms you are meeting. I know it’s hard
    making friends as an adult but I also know that you are going to be a mom and
    through that process you will find so much strength.

  • Eating Well Postpartum: The Basics

    eatwellpostpartumfeaturedIf your like most new mothers, your preparation for motherhood starts as soon as you get that first confirmation of pregnancy. Between, doctors visits, child birthing classes and baby registries there is more than enough prep work to be done.

    But most parents, especially after the first week or so, will make it clear. No matter how much you try to prepare, its almost impossible to truly know what to expect until baby is actually born and you are actively parenting.

    That said, taking care to eat well after giving birth can help ease postpartum recovery and transition from pregnant to parenting. By getting plenty of rest, water and good food, you will give your body the fuel it needs to recover from pregnancy and childbirth and support lactation.

    Experts strongly recommend against dieting while breastfeeding because the postpartum woman needs an additional 300-500 calories to support healthy lactation. The source of these calories is also very important and most dietitians agree that a wholesome meal plan of nutrient dense foods is optimal for the breastfeeding duo.

     Ali Segersten of shares her guidelines for healthy lactation and postpartum nourishment:
    Good foods to nourish a postpartum mom:

    Plenty of purified water
    Wild salmon
    Organic chicken and vegetable soup with plenty of fresh herbs
    Greens!! Fresh salad greens, dark leafy greens, and green smoothies
    Sweet vegetables (yams, squash, carrots, beets)
    Raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
    Raw almond butter
    Whole grains (quinoa, amaranth, oats, sweet brown rice, millet, teff)
    Organic berries
    Sea vegetables
    Carminative herbs and spices (cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, ginger, mint, fennel seeds)
    Raspberry leaf tea (raspberry leaf along with fennel help to contract the uterus)
    Nettle tea enriches and increases milk production
    Healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, fresh flax or fish oil)
    Foods to avoid during the postpartum period (may cause upset in newborn baby):

    Dairy products
    Citrus fruit, especially juices
    Heavily spiced foods
    Raw garlic and onions
    Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage)
    Wheat / Gluten
    Refined soy products
    Caffeine (coffee, tea, soda)
    Prenatal vitamins (the iron may be irritating to baby)
    As a postpartum doula, I use Ali’s list as a general guide when preparing meal plans for my clients. I also take into account any allergies or dietary restrictions the family may have.
    What do you think of  this list? I’d love to hear your tips or recipes for healthy postpartum eating!
  • Breastfeeding Basics: Create a Cozy Nursing Nook

    One of the easiest ways to support and enhance your breastfeeding experience is to keep the oxytocin flowing. Create a cozy, comfy space in your home designated for nursing. I like to call mine the nursing nook. Make sure you pick a location that you won’t mind spending 7-9 hours of your day in for the next 6 months.


    1. Seating – you’ll need the seating of your choice keeping in mind that it will need to encourage good posture to support you while nursing. Rocking chairs, armchairs, sofa and couches are all good options. A footstool or something that mom can prop her feet up on will really support optimal posture while breastfeeding.

    2. Pillows – Nursing pillows are very popular and convenient. There are different designs available that are shaped specifically to make supporting baby or babies while nursing without putting strain on moms neck, back and arms. However, a nursing pillow isn’t absolutely necessary. 3 or 4 “bed” pillows that can be folded, smooshed and washed (pee, poop, puke happens a lot) can do the trick to help lift  and support baby at the breast . You might also find you want an extra pillow there to support your knees or arms.

    3. End Table – Something with more than 1 shelf will work best but if 1 shelf is all you have available then 1 shelf is all you need. This is where you will keep books/magazines/ iPad/iPhone/ the remote/ your choice of entertainment. After days spent staring at your tiny offspring in amazement you will eventually need some entertainment to keep you away.

    4. Baby Log – You might want to use an app or you can use a clock, timer and physical log (or both), but it is a great idea to start and keep a log of your baby’s feedings and wet or soiled diapers. This log can be as detailed or general as you like but some basics to keep track of are start and end time of each feeding on each breast, and how many wet and soiled diapers your baby has each day. This can help to reassure a new mom that her baby is feeding enough and can help a pediatrician, midwife or lactation consultant  should any issue arise.

    5. Supplies and Snack–  bottled water, baby-safe hand sanitizer, nursing pads (cloth or disposable), coconut oil or nipple cream , cloth diapers/burp cloths and paper towels are all good items to stock your nursing nook. A sectioned basket can wrangle all of these items without easily becoming disorganized. Diapers and wipes may or may not be stored here as well. Don’t forget your non-perishable snacks such as nuts and dried fruit in stock.

    Tip: Keep your breastfeeding routine flexible by keeping all of your supplies in a basket, box or caddy that can be moved if needed.

    Although breastfeeding is proven to be natural and optimal for newborn mothers and babies, it  can certainly come with lots of challenges. By creating a routine that works for you, you can increase your chances of success.