Our lactation consultants are registered nurses with special training, extensive experience, and certification in counseling and assisting breastfeeding mothers. They are available to offer help and expertise to mothers who have made the choice to breastfeed or mothers who have already begun breastfeeding. Lactation consultants work to prevent breastfeeding problems and help the mother find answers and solutions if problems arise. To speak to a consultant call (205) 877-1978.
The Lactation Center provides a number of programs and services to mothers. Some of the services include:
Office consultation for mothers-to-be who are considering breastfeeding and for mothers who have already begun to breastfeed.
In-hospital assistance to provide education and help during the hospital stay.
Medela breast pump rental for short- or long-term use.
Sale of breastfeeding equipment including Medela Pump-In-Style and Medela nursing bras.
Education material, including books and tapes (programs are also available for community organizations).
Breastfeeding helpline for assistance with common problems (205) 877-1978.
A prenatal breastfeeding class is available for expectant mothers who are considering or have already decided to breastfeed. Expectant mothers who have had previous difficulty with breastfeeding may also benefit from the class. Fathers and other support persons are encouraged to attend. For information about class dates and fees call (205) 877-8800.
Making Your Feeding Decision
In deciding how to feed your infant consider the many benefits of breastfeeding. For your child, breastmilk is easy to digest and provides excellent nutrition. Breastmilk contains antibodies that protect against ear and respiratory infections and diarrhea. Breastmilk may reduce the incidence of allergies such as atopic eczema, food allergies, and respiratory allergies. Breastfeeding may enhance immunity in some cases. Research also shows that breastfeeding may help reduce the incidence of SIDS.
For you, breastfeeding is economical, convenient, and helps the uterus return to its normal size more rapidly than if you didn't breastfeed. There is also research that indicates that breastfeeding may decreases the incidence of ovarian cancer, premenopausal breast cancer, and increases bone remineralization postpartum in the woman who breastfeeds.
In addition, your body uses the fat that is stored during your last trimester of pregnancy for a large portion of the calories needed to produce milk. And best of all, breastfeeding creates a special, intimate bond between you and your child.
Preparing For Breastfeeding
Some women may wonder if the size and shape of the breasts will affect their ability to produce milk. Fat deposits determine the size of the breast. They do not affect your ability to produce milk. However, nipple shape and size can affect the ease with which your baby learns to nurse. If you need help determining if your nipples are normal, flat, or inverted please ask your physician or contact the Lactation Center for a nipple assessment. There is a simple treatment available for flat or inverted nipples that may help and should be done in the last month or two of pregnancy. Instructions for this treatment are also available through the Lactation Center.
Special clothing for breastfeeding is available at many department stores and maternity specialty shops. It is not necessary to have special clothing for breastfeeding, but many mothers feel more comfortable if they have nursing bras and gowns ready for their hospital stay. Nursing bras are available through the Lactation Center. Assistance with proper fitting can be done during the last month of pregnancy, during the mother's hospital stay, or anytime after discharge from the hospital.
Many mothers can benefit from reading books on breastfeeding. Two books that we recommend are The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leech League and Breastfeeding: A Parent's Guide by Amy Spangler. These books are available for purchase through the Lactation Center.
What Can I Expect While I'm In The Hospital?
Although breastfeeding is a natural process, you may have questions and concerns. The following list of what you can expect after you've delivered your baby should help to answer some of your questions.
Wash your breast and nipple one time a day when you bathe. It is not necessary to wipe off your breast at every feeding. You should wash your hands before every feeding.
When nursing, get as much of your nipple and areola (the darkened area around the nipple) into your baby's mouth as possible.
Try to burp your baby between breasts and at the end of the feeding. Because breastfed babies don't take in a lot of air when you feed them, they don't always burp, so don't be surprised if your baby doesn't.
You need privacy now, so don't hesitate to limit visitors or have a do-not-disturb sign put on your door.
Don't limit the time that you nurse. Try to nurse every two to three hours during the day—even if you have a sleepy baby. At night, nurse your baby at least once between midnight and 6 a.m. Babies may nurse about 15 to 30 minutes per side.
Our nursing staff is experienced in assisting new mothers and babies breastfeed. Don't be afraid to ask the hospital staff to help you with breastfeeding. A certified Lactation Consultant will see you during your hospital stay.
Don't worry if your baby doesn't nurse well at each feeding for the first day or two. Please do stay in touch with the lactation consultant daily until your baby is nursing properly.
What Can I Expect After I'm Home?
By the time you are home from the hospital, you should be settling into your new role as a breastfeeding mom. After the first few weeks, breastfeeding should get easier for you and your baby. Until then, here are a few tips to follow now that you're home.
Concentrate on caring for yourself and the baby. Allow others to help with household chores. Limit your visitors if possible the first few days that you are home so that you can get as much rest as possible.
By the third or fourth day, you can expect to nurse your newborn every 1 ½ to 3 hours—averaging about eight to 12 times a day.
If you have a sleepy baby, wake him and encourage him to nurse. For the first two weeks, awaken your baby at least every three hours DURING THE DAY TO BREASTFEED. Skin contact can help to wake your baby. There is no need to wake your baby at night for feedings unless your doctor has instructed you to do so.
You may notice more firmness and fullness of your breasts at about two to six days post-partum. This is particularly true of first-time mothers. To alleviate some of the discomfort, nurse as frequently as possible. And remember, the fullness should subside in a few days.
By the fifth day, you can expect at least six to eight wet diapers and four or more stools every 24 hours. Some babies may have a stool after every feeding. If your baby is not up to this level of output, you should call the Lactation Center or your Pediatrician.
By the second week, your baby may experience a growth spurt and be extra hungry and fussy. Also at this time, your breasts may return to their normal size. However, your milk supply has probably not decreased. It's just your initial engorgement that has disappeared. Go along with your baby's need to nurse more often. After a few days of this frequent nursing, your milk supply should increase to match demand. But, should you have any concerns about your milk supply, or you see a decrease in wet or dirty diapers, please call us.
What About Nutrition During Breastfeeding?
Your eating habits are just as important now that you are breastfeeding as they were when you were pregnant. Here are some basic nutritional guidelines to follow while breastfeeding:
Milk/Milk Products: 4-5* servings per day
Fruits/Vegetables: Vitamin A-1 serving per day
1/2 cup cooked spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, cantaloupe, peaches, apricots or vegetable juice
Meat/Meat Substitute: 3-4* servings per day
Vitamin C: 2 servings per day
Cereal Products: 4-5 servings per day
Other: 1-3 servings per day
1 cup raw vegetables
1/2 pound potatoes
1/4 cup dried fruit
*While your baby should tolerate most foods you eat, occasionally something in your diet will make a baby fussy. Some foods that may cause fussiness are milk products, eggs, fish, and nuts. If you have a family history of allergic disease or your baby is very fussy, you might want to limit your intake of these foods. If you do choose to limit milk or milk products, please consult your nutritionist for proper substitutions.
Should I Be Watching My Calories?
Your caloric needs are higher now that you are breastfeeding than they ever were when you were pregnant. It takes about 500 calories a day just for your body to produce breast milk. During the first two months postpartum, your body needs time to recover from childbirth and to establish a good milk supply. Now is not a good time to severely restrict your calories, although a gradual weight loss can occur safely while breastfeeding. If after two months, you haven't returned to your pre-pregnancy weight, you probably need to increase your activity level and moderately decrease your calories. Discuss this with your health-care provider.
Also during this time, your need for proper vitamins and minerals continues to remain high. Calcium is especially important, and you should consume approximately 1,2000 milligrams per day. While milk is a good source of calcium, you do not have to drink milk in order to produce milk.
How Much Should I Drink Each Day?
"Drink when you are thirsty" is a good rule of thumb. Don't go out your way to push fluid consumption; excessive amounts can actually decrease milk secretion. Many mothers find it convenient and easy to drink something every time they nurse their baby—about six to eight cups per day. What's best to drink? Water, milk, and fruit juice. Watch out for caffeinated beverages, as caffeine can cause insomnia or irritability in your baby. Also, many drinks have artificial sweeteners in them, and it's advisable to avoid these beverages-or anything with a artificial sweetener in it. Researchers aren't sure what, if any, effects they may have. Alcohol in large amounts is also discouraged while breastfeeding as it does pass into the milk. However, an occasional beer, cocktail, or glass of wine shouldn't interfere with your breastfeeding.