Among the host of questions new mothers face, many revolve around breastfeeding. It is worth getting up to speed on the ins and outs, since breastfeeding is the recommended feeding method for most babies.
In recognition of National Breastfeeding Month, we address some of the most common questions.
Q. Are there certain diet recommendations for breastfeeding moms?
A. It’s always important to fuel your body with a variety of nutritious foods, especially while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. With that in mind, there are some things you might want to know when it comes to your eating habits and nursing.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, some studies show that a woman’s diet quality is directly related to the nutritional quality of her breast milk. It’s best to stick with whole foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and to avoid foods high in added sugars and saturated fats like soda, packaged desserts and fried foods.
Staying hydrated is very important while breastfeeding – many moms even notice that they are thirstier when nursing. To make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, some experts recommend drinking a glass of water every time you breastfeed.
Q. How can a mother know when her baby is getting enough to eat?
A. For reference, most newborns have an average of eight to 12 feedings per day, or a feeding every two to three hours. During feedings, most babies breastfeed 10 to 15 minutes on each breast. Of course, these are the average numbers, and each baby is different.
Another way to gauge if your child is getting enough to eat is by observing his or her diaper. The frequency varies from baby to baby, but it’s normal to see a bowel movement soon after every feeding, less as they get older.
In newborns, urination should occur every one to three hours or as little as four to six times a day. If your child is having fewer than four wet diapers a day or irregular bowel movements, see your doctor.
Q. Can women who are breastfeeding get pregnant?
A. Most doctors recommend waiting at least one month after giving birth to start having sex again. Your body is going to need time to heal and it’s likely you might not feel up to it until then (or even later).
Once you do start having sex again, it is possible (even though you’re breastfeeding) for you to get pregnant if you’re not using some form of birth control.
Talk with your physician about which birth control method is right for you, and always consult with your doctor before having sex following a C-section or vaginal birth.
Dr. Joanne Price Williamson is an OB/GYN at Memorial Health University Physicians’ Women’s Care Bluffton. MemorialHealthDoctors.com.