Breastfeeding in Public- Your Legal Rights and Tips for Success

Breastfeeding in Public- Your Legal Rights and Tips for Success

Confession: before having kids, I had a pretty douchey attitude toward breastfeeding in public.

I don’t remember it, but my mom vividly recalls me saying something harsh to my sister about covering up while she was feeding her newborn.

 

 

Because I have a long history of being a jerk, I don’t even question whether or not this happened. I trust my mother’s memory more than my own.

 

My sister was pretty good at blowing off my comment. She’s really bold and doesn’t give af what anyone thinks, especially me.

 

Now that I’m a breastfeeding mom, I am appalled by my former actions. I probably would have felt really hurt and ashamed if someone had said that to me.

To say that I deeply regret my words is an understatement.

 

After giving birth to my first daughter, it took all of three seconds for my boobs to move to the bottom of the sexual totem pole. My pinky toes now have more sex appeal.

 

During that time I also came to the realization that breastfeeding is really freaking hard! I needed all the support I could get.

If my only option was to cover up, it would have been impossible for me to leave the house. Like, ever.

 

So, while all of us breastfeeding moms aware that breastfeeding is far from sexual, and is indeed really damn difficult, the rest of the world is still catching up.

 

Thankfully, the rest of the world has made great strides in recent years.

*This post contains a few photos which are affiliate links. You can read my super anticlimactic disclosure here.

 

 

What Does the Law Say About Breastfeeding in Public?

public breastfeeding laws 

In 2018, it officially became legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states! Hurray! What took so long?!

 

Seriously, the right to feed a hungry baby should be a no-brainer.

 

While public breastfeeding is legal, each state words their laws about it a little differently.

 

Some states such as Florida state that they “allow a mother to breastfeed in any public or private location,” whereas states such as Iowa only specify “the right to breastfeed in any public place.”

 

What’s the difference between a public location and a private location? Good question.

 

According to Privacy Observer, “What determines whether a given location is public, is whether it is open to the public.”

 

Any privately owned business that is open to the public is considered a public location. It doesn’t matter if the land owner and the person who owns every single share despise breastfeeding without a cover, your rights remain.

 

That means that if Ted, the owner of the burger joint down the street tells you that you have to cover up because you have no right to breastfeed in his private business, you can tell him to shove it.

 

That’s right Ted, shove it.

 

If you were breastfeeding in Ted’s house, that would be another story. But who really wants to hang out at Ted’s house with their baby if he’s going to be such a dick?

 

Do you want to know exactly what the public breastfeeding laws are in your state? This website will tell you all about it.

 

I’m working on creating state-specific printables right now. That’s right, all 50 of them. It is a labor of love your you, my friends.

 

If you sign up below, I’ll send you the link to download your state printable as soon as they are ready! This should be somewhere between 1-3 weeks from now. It depends on how much work my toddler lets me do every day.

 

 

 

Tips for Breastfeeding in Public

Now that we have established that breastfeeding in public is completely legal, it’s time to learn how.

 

There’s no right or wrong way to breastfeed in public. You are fully within your rights to whip out your boob in front of anyone and everyone, or sneak it out stealthily.

 

The important thing is that you do what is comfortable for you.

 

If you’re like my sister who doesn’t give af, go ahead and pull the whole thing out. Honestly, it’s the easiest way to feed a newborn.

 

But if you’re like some of my more modest friends, here are some tips to make breastfeeding in public a little less awkward for people who are only comfortable around dairy-free boobs:

 

  • Practice at home in front of a mirror. While your eyeballs might be full of nipple and areola, chances are high that those around you can’t see anything. Your baby’s head is going to obscure most, if not all of their view. Perfect your practice by getting an idea of what they see with a mirror.

  • Wear clothes designed specifically for breastfeeding. While it’s possible to breastfeed in most clothes, having some designed specifically for breastfeeding can make life a hellova lot easier, especially in the early days when babies aren’t very good at latching. I highly recommend nursing clothes because they are an easy way to breastfeed discreetly without carrying extra gear.

 

  • Use a nursing cover. Nursing covers come in a few different styles. Some loop around the back of your neck with a bendy metal thing to help you see baby’s face (top photo), while others are like a stretchy infinity scarf (bottom photo). Nursing covers can get warm, but they are the easiest way to breastfeed without the off-chance of someone getting a glimpse of skin *gasp*


  • Nurse your baby in a front carrier. Many baby carriers make it easy to breastfeed your baby while wearing them. This is very difficult if not impossible to do with newborns, but it gets increasingly easier as they get older. Most people will never guess that you’re breastfeeding. They’ll assume that your baby is taking a snooze.

How to Handle Uncomfortable Situations while breastfeeding in public

 

Just because breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states, it doesn’t mean that everyone knows it. A lot of people aren’t aware of the new laws in place to protect nursing mothers.

 

This means that it is entirely possible to run into uncomfortable situations.

 

Hopefully that never happens to you, but if it does, here are some tips to handle the situation:

 

  • Try to remain calm and turn your body away from the offender.

  • If you feel unsafe, don’t hesitate to call the police.

  • Whip out your handy dandy copy of your state’s breastfeeding laws. Sign up to get yours soon-ish.

  • Ask to speak to a manager.

  • File a complaint with the business. This can be done on the spot or at a later date when things have calmed down.

  • Report them to the Better Business Bureau.

 

If you thrive off of confrontation:

  • Videotape the encounter

  • Post said video to social media. Shame is a great motivator.
  • Stage a nurse-in with your friends because, why not?

 

Well, there you go friends. I hope this helps you breastfeed in public like the badass boss babe you are.

 

Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletters where I will be sending out a link to download your state-specific breastfeeding laws in the next few weeks, and share this with a friend.

 

 

 

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healthy breastfeeding foods galactagogues lactation inducing foods breastfeeding diet

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Never Change Another Wet Diaper at Night

Never Change Another Wet Diaper at Night

Changing diapers in the middle of the night is the WORST. Okay, so maybe colic is the worst, but you get my point.

 

Not only are you doing it in a blurry haze with one eye open, but you are desperately trying to keep your baby asleep at the same time.

 

One wrong move and you might be up for two hours.

 

Fortunately for all of us, I picked up a tip from seasoned mothers. It is currently saving me hours of sleep and at least one set of piss-soaked pajamas right now.

 

This post contains an affiliate link. My disclosure policy is super anticlimactic, but feel free to read it here.

 

Here’s the hack:

  • Buy diapers one size larger than baby wears
  • Place them snugly enough on baby so that the leg holes seal. This is very important.
  • Cover bum, crevices, and everything in between with a thick layer of diaper ointment. A&D ointment works amazingly.

 

And wala! No more wet diapers to change at night, and no baby rash.

 

Enjoy your extra sleep, and change baby’s diaper in the morning as usual.

 

Pay it forward by sharing this with another sleep deprived mom.

 

 

Disclaimers:

  • Only works with disposable diapers (to my knowledge)

  • Only do this for wet diapers. You should always change a poop. But I didn’t need to tell you that.

Breastmilk Storage: Everything You Need to Know

Breastmilk Storage: Everything You Need to Know

How long can breastmilk sit out? Can you reuse milk that your baby doesn’t drink? What about re-freezing? Can you do that?

 

The whole process of storing, freezing, and thawing breastmilk can be confusing. But if you’re a pumping mama, it’s unavoidable.

  

Here is everything you need to know about how to properly store, freeze, and heat breastmilk.

 

*This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here. It’s pretty anticlimactic.

How Long Can Breastmilk Sit out at Room Temperature?

Great question! According to the CDC, breastmilk can be stored at room temperature (77 degrees F/ 25 degrees C or cooler) for up to 4 hours.

 

For example, if you thought that your baby wanted more milk, but you both fell asleep for two hours before he drank from the bottle, you’re in the clear! You can still refrigerate the milk for later use.

 

I should note that the Mayo Clinic says that up to six hours is acceptable, assuming that the room is not particularly warm.

 

Clearly there is some level of flexibility here. If your house is 70 degrees and the milk is out for 4.5 hours, it’s not like it suddenly spoiled 30 min ago.

 

It’s always best to play it safe. If you’re a paranoid mom (no judgement here), you will probably feel more comfortable throwing it out right at the 4 hour mark.

 

But if you’re not a paranoid mom (again, no judgement either way), it’s not like you’re going to poison your baby by leaving it out for up to 6 hours.

 

You Might Like: The New Mom’s Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

 

If my baby doesn’t finish a bottle, can I refrigerate that breastmilk and reheat it later?

 

Unfortunately, no.

 

Bacteria transfers from your baby’s mouth, into the bottle, contaminating the milk.

 

According to pretty much every authoritative source, you need to throw the milk out after your baby drinks from the bottle.

 

I’m just going to throw this out there though- I don’t.

 

Why? Because I’m a lazy, cheap ass who is often laid back to a fault.

 

I live life on the edge. I do things like eat my eggs over-easy when I’m pregnant and let my kids smack their heads on the bottom of the table when they stand up.

 

To be clear, I am NOT saying that you should follow my lead in regards to re-refrigerating used breastmilk.

 

In fact, I recommend that you don’t. Health and safety guidelines recommend that you don’t.

 

But if you do follow my lead, I won’t judge you.

 

 

How Long Can I store Breastmilk in the Fridge?

 

Again, when we are looking at the people who know their sh*t, we get slightly different answers about breastmilk storage.

 

 

Regardless, they all agree that you should move it to the freezer within 3 days if you don’t plan on using it.

 

When storing breastmilk in the fridge, you should always place it in the back. This ensures that the temperature stays as cool as possible.

 

The worst place to store breastmilk is in the door where it will be exposed to frequent bursts of warm air.

 

Related: Best Breastfeeding Diet: What to Eat, Galactagogues, Food Allergies, and Alcohol

 

How long can I store breastmilk in an insulated cooler?

 

If you have plans to travel, or you need to pump while you are out of the house, you can safely store your breastmilk in an insulated cooler with ice packs for up to 24 hours.

 

If you are exclusively pumping, or want someone else to take the night shift, this is a convenient way to store breastmilk overnight.

 

It takes less time to heat, and saves you a trip to the refrigerator.

How Do I Freeze Breastmilk?

Freezing breastmilk is pretty easy and straight forward.

 

First, begin by washing your hands and your workspace.

 

Breastmilk storage bags are the most common option, though Milkies Milk Trays are also great.

 

Do not use small ziplock baggies to store breastmilk.

 

I’ve seen this going around on Pinterest and find it extremely stupid (though I have to admit, I almost did it when my first baby was born).

 

Breastmilk storage bags are thick, BPA free, and pre-sterilized for safe use.

 

Simply dump the expressed milk from the bottle into the breastmilk storage bag. Some women use the pumping flange as a funnel to prevent spills.

 

Milk should be stored in small amounts to prevent waste. Between two and four ounces per bag is ideal.

 

Remove as much air as possible before sealing. If using a hard plastic or glass container, leave one inch of air for expansion.

 

For the most efficient storage, lay flat to freeze. After the bag of milk is frozen solid, it can be propped up and stored like files in a filing cabinet.

 

Milkies Milk Trays are a great alternative. Each tray freezes eight 1oz “sticks” that fit into any bottle.

 

This enables you to thaw the exact amount that you need, without the stress of wasting milk.

 

How long can breastmilk be stored in the freezer?

 

Breastmilk can be stored for:

 

  • 6 months in a freezer that is attached to a fridge

 

  • 1 year in a deep freezer

 

Never store milk in the door because of the influx in temperature.

 

Breastmilk should always be stored toward the back of the freezer where temperature remains consistently cool.

 

How Do I Thaw Frozen Breastmilk?

 

Once you have frozen your breastmilk, there are a few different ways to thaw it out.

 

  • Move to the refrigerator overnight

 

  • Set in a bowl of lukewarm water

 

  • Place the bag (or bottle) under a stream of warm water

 

The slower you thaw breastmilk, the less fat and nutrients will be lost. This means that thawing it overnight in the refrigerator is ideal.

 

But sometimes your baby is hangry and you’re in a frenzy because there’s no damn milk in the fridge.

 

In that case, quickly thawing your breastmilk with warm water is perfectly safe and won’t hurt your baby in any way.

 

NEVER should you EVER heat up breastmilk in the microwave. Microwaving breastmilk kills its amazing antibodies, and worse- creates hot spots in the milk which can burn your baby’s mouth and throat.

How do i feed thawed milk to a baby

This should be intuitive, but it’s actually not. Here are some things you should know:

 

  • Never heat the milk in the microwave. Again, it can scald your baby’s mouth.

 

  • Place bottle in a bowl of warm or hot water (or a bottle warmer), but do not use boiling water. That will kill antibodies in the breastmilk.

 

  • Swirl the milk to mix it. Never shake a bottle of breastmilk.

 

  • Test the temperature on the inside of your wrist. It should be lukewarm or cooler.

 

  • You can feed baby cool milk. There is no rule that says they have to drink it warm. In fact, if you are exclusively pumping, feeding your baby cool milk will be much easier in the long run.

 

  • When heating milk, only heat it once. If baby does not drink it all, it can be refrigerated and served cool within two hours.

 

Related: Pumping for NICU Twins- A Twin Mom’s Tips

 

How long is thawed breastmilk safe to use?

 

Two days. To be clear, that is two days from the time the milk is completely thawed out.

 

This means that if you put it in the freezer at 8pm on a Saturday night and it is thawed out by 8am on Sunday morning, the clock starts at 8am on Sunday.

Can I Re-Freeze Breastmilk?

 

That’s a big fat NO. The risks for contamination and bacteria growth go up substantially.

 

Even I won’t do that. Sorry.

 

Helpful tips for storing breastmilk

breastmilk storage frozen breastmilk organization

  • Store milk in small quantities. 2-4 oz is ideal to eliminate waste.

 

  • Label milk with date, quantity, and name of child (if child will be going to daycare)

 

  • When measuring quantity, use the ounces on the bottle as opposed to the bag. When you dump the breastmilk in the bag, it will almost always look as though there is one extra ounce. This is confusing when you are trying to track how much your baby eats later.

 

  • When freezing in a breastmilk storage bag, lay milk on a flat surface until frozen solid.

Best Breastfeeding Diet: What to Eat, Galactagogues, Food Allergies, and Alcohol

Best Breastfeeding Diet: What to Eat, Galactagogues, Food Allergies, and Alcohol

Now that your little one has finally become an air-breather, you are undoubtedly looking for the best diet to provide them with the most nutritious milk possible.

 

Like any good mom, you want to make the best choices possible for your baby. If you stumbled across this page, it’s safe to assume that for you, that means breastfeeding.

 

So how much does your diet affect your milk? Do you need to eat lactation inducing foods? How can you tell if your baby is sensitive to your diet? And what about alcohol?

 

All of those questions and more are answered below!

 

*This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I make a few pennies if you make a qualifying purchase through my links in a timely manner. It doesn’t cost you anything, but it does help me spend my time providing you with resources like this instead of finding a real job. You can read my full disclosure here. It’s pretty anticlimactic.

 

Also, please note that I am not a doctor or nutritionist. If anything I say sounds crazy, consult someone with a degree in this shit. You should never make major life decisions off of a blog anyways.

HOW DOES YOUR BREASTFEEDING DIET AFFECT YOUR BABY?

healthy food breastfeeding diet

 

Many women swear that certain foods increased their milk supply, while other women have tried everything to no avail. 

 

Some women claim that foods high in fat increase the fat content of their milk.

 

Some eat pizza and pop tarts all day, and their babies are healthy, while some maintain a diet that the rest of us could only dream of, and their babies still get sick.

 

Instead of jumping into the rumor-mill and looking at anecdotal evidence (which will tell you anything that you want to hear), I decided to gather information from peer-reviewed medical journals.

 

According to recent research, the correlation between a breastfeeding mother’s diet and the composition of her breast milk still remains largely unknown.

 

Regardless of how intricately linked your diet and breastmilk composition are, what we do know is that aside from vitamin D, which is best absorbed by sunlight, breast milk provides everything that your baby needs for their first six months of life.

 

In other words, your body is so damned determined to put your baby first, that it will pull from its own nutrient stores if you refuse to give it what it wants.

 

Depletion of your nutritional stores poses long-term health risks, and will leave you feeling run down in the meantime.

 

The purpose of a healthy breastfeeding diet is, therefore, more for you than your baby.

 

 

WHAT IS IN A HEALTHY BREASTFEEDING DIET?

Assuming you don’t want your body to steal all of your nutrient stores, it is important to establish a healthy breastfeeding diet as soon as possible.

 

You should aim to provide all of the vitamins and nutrients that will go into your breast milk, as well as the ones that your body needs to stay healthy and recover from childbirth.

 

The best breastfeeding diet is one that is nutrient-dense and diverse, encompassing all the colors of the rainbow.

 

Ideally, your diet should contain:

  • 3 servings of protein such as chicken, beef, lamb, eggs, or beans.

 

  • One or more foods that are rich in iron such as liver, beans, and lentils

 

  • 2 servings of fruit such as mango, guava, or pears

 

  • Foods that are high in healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and avocado.

 

  • ½ oz of water for every pound of body weight + 1 glass for every caffeinated drink

 

If it’s too hard to consume that much food, try to hit two birds with one stone by eating foods that fit into more than one category.

 

For example, eating a serving of beans will provide you with both protein and iron. Sweet potatoes are both a complex carbohydrate and a colored vegetable. Collard greens are packed with calcium in addition to being the obvious: a leafy green. 

 

 

If you maintain a healthy diet like this, your body will be able to produce enough milk for your baby without tapping into your reserves.

 

A healthy diet is also the biggest factor to shedding baby weight. Exercise all you want, but if you have a crap diet, that belly is not going to shrink.

 

And who says you can’t have cheat days? You just made a freaking human, and now your body is sustaining it. If anyone deserves a cheat day, it’s you.

 

You might like: The New Mom’s Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

 

The healthier you eat throughout the day, the less impact that pint of Ben and Jerry’s will have on your thighs.

 

 

WHAT ARE GALACTAGOGUES? DO I NEED THEM?

 

lactation inducing foods galactagogues lactogenic herbs

 

A galactagogue (from the Greek word “galacta,” meaning milk) is any food, drug, or herb that is used to increase a mother’s milk production.

 

Galactagogues have been used for centuries, and vary from region to region around the world.

 

Every culture has its own popular galactagogues, though few have undergone enough research to confirm their milk making properties.

 

Many are consumed in the form of tea or supplements, while others are added to dishes to enhance their health value. Some, such as oatmeal, are a meal of their own.

 

It’s never a bad idea to incorporate galactagogues into your menu. Many of them can be seamlessly incorporated into a healthy breastfeeding diet.

 

Examples of this are oatmeal with flax seed for breakfast or a salad with chickpeas, avocado, nuts, and chia for lunch.

 

Certain herbs are most often taken as supplements. These herbs include fenugreek, fennel, goat’s rue, and blessed thistle.

 

Whether you need to take supplements like these depends on if you truly have a low milk supply.

 

The American Pregnancy Association has some great information to determine if you have a low milk supply.

 

If you do in fact have a low milk supply, seek proper care for your baby before anything else.

 

Recent teachings that every mother has the ability to meet the nutritional needs of her baby have had devastating consequences, including infant hospitalization and death.

 

After ensuring that your baby’s needs are met, load up on supplements such as Let There Be Milk and teas like Pink Stork Lactation, while adding pumping sessions after nursing your baby.

 

Herbal galactagogues should not be necessary for daily, long-term use, but if you find them useful, there is no reason that you should need to stop.

 

Check out this great list of 57 lactogenic foods here!

 

 

Food Sensitivities and Allergies

If you have been scrolling through Pinterest lately, you are probably under the impression that everything you eat will give your baby and upset tummy.

 

Milk, broccoli, beans, nuts, wheat, you name it. At the end of the day, you are probably wondering what the phuk you can eat.

 

Truthfully, the vast majority of breastfed babies will won’t have any adverse reactions to their mother’s diet.

 

Food sensitivities and allergies aren’t something that you need to navigate your entire life around in preparation for your baby.

 

If something in your diet doesn’t sit well with your little one, they will tell you in their own way.

 

Signs of a food sensitivity or allergy are:

  • Unusual fussiness

  • Excessive spit up or vomit

  • Rash or eczema

  • Dry skin

  • Congestion

  • Diarrhea or loose, watery stools (how in the hell we are supposed to know the difference between this and normal breastfeeding poops is anybody’s guess)

  • Traces of blood or mucus in stool

 

The most common allergen is by far dairy. Cow’s milk contains a specific protein that some babies struggle to digest. When a mother consumes dairy, it passes into her breast milk.

 

If you notice any of these symptoms, eliminate dairy from your diet to see if you notice a change in your baby.

Related: Formula, Pumping, and Breastfeeding: Amanda Shares Her Story

 

You should see changes within 3 days, however if it is a true dairy allergy, it could take up to 4 weeks for the protein to completely leave your system. This means that some of the symptoms in your baby may persist to some degree.

 

If you are able to rule out a dairy allergy, an elimination diet is the next step to find the source of the problem.

The Elimination Diet

What is the elimination diet?

The elimination diet is a diet that eliminates all high-allergen foods at once, then slowly reintroduces them one at a time to find out which particular allergen is causing adverse reactions.

 

Why should you use an elimination diet?

Because the process of eliminating one food group at a time to find out if works is painstakingly slow, and both you and your baby must deal with the effects of the allergen until it is discovered.

 

An elimination diet is the quickest, most effective way to pinpoint the source of your baby’s tummy problems.

 

Dr. Sears happens to have the best resource that I can find for how to implement an elimination diet while breastfeeding.

 

If you have ruled out a milk sensitivity, head on over to his website to find out how to take the next step in diagnosing the source of your baby’s belly problems.

 

Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

drinking alcohol breastfeeding 

You just spent 9 months avoiding alcohol. Is it time to unwind with a glass of wine yet? Or will you have to pump and dump all of your precious milk?

 

I am more than please to tell you that yes, you can drink again, and you don’t need to throw out your breast milk!

 

And all the mothers said, “Amen!” 

via GIPHY

Alcohol enters and leaves your breast milk in the same manner that it does your blood.

 

The general rule of thumb is that if you are sober enough to drive, you are sober enough to breastfeed.

 

That means that pumping and dumping is just a sad waste of your precious liquid gold.

 

The best way to make the most of your time is to drink immediately after nursing. This will give you a 2-3 hour window to unwind with your beverage of choice, and let it wear off before your baby is ready to eat again.

 

If you are unsure about the alcohol content of your milk, these breastmilk alcohol testing strips can help put your mind at ease.

 

Summary

 

The best thing for you is the best thing for your baby.

 

A healthy breastfeeding diet will help you recover from childbirth and give you the energy that you need to care for your new baby.

 

Food sensitivities and allergies are rare, but they do happen, so it’s important to know the warning signs.

 

While galactagogues are helpful, they are not always needed in herbal form.

 

Moderate alcohol intake is perfectly fine, especially when timed appropriately.

 

Enjoy motherhood. If you aren’t happy, figure out what you need to do to find balance.

 

There’s no need to make yourself miserable over breastfeeding. Contrary to popular belief, recent studies show that long term, it doesn’t make that much of a difference anyways.

 

Good luck! And don’t forget to snag your  FREE breastfeeding diet checklist.

 

The New Mom’s Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

The New Mom’s Ultimate Guide to Breastfeeding

Most millennial mothers will decide to breastfeed, or at a minimum, give it a shot.

If you are looking for non judgemental tips and advice about breastfeeding, you have come to the right place my friend. 

From the outside looking in, breastfeeding looks simple. Put the baby on the boob. Baby sucks the boob because that is what they do- it’s natural, right? And BOOM! Baby is fed.

 

But if you have ever breastfed, you know how complicated and confusing it can be.

 

If you are about to breastfeed for the first time, welcome to the party. May the odds be ever in your favor.

 

*This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here. It’s pretty anticlimactic. 

*Also note that I am not a doctor or lactation consultant. I’m just a normal gal who has been squirting milk for 2+ years. Consult your doctor before you take anything that I say for gospel.

BREASTMILK: WHAT IT IS, WHY IT’S GREAT, AND HOW IT CHANGES

Before giving birth, and for a few days afterward, your breasts will produce colostrum.

 

Colostrum is a thick, yellow liquid that is packed full of antibodies and nutrition. It is also a laxative, which aids your baby in passing their first meconium poop.

 

Colostrum is low in calories, so expect your baby to lose weight. Babies typically lose 7-10% of their weight after birth, but gain it back within 2 weeks. Breastfed babies drop more weight than formula fed babies because of this caloric deficit. 

 

After 3 to 4 days, your body will begin to produce transitional milk.

This milk is still quite yellow, but not as thick. It contains more protein and carbohydrates than colostrum. 

 

It can be quite painful when your transitional milk comes in. Your breasts will rapidly expand and engorge, and can even become hot to the touch.

 

You can aid this transition with the help of warm compresses or a breast pump.

 

The transitional milk will last for about two weeks until your mature milk comes in.

 

Mature milk is what your body will continue to make for the extent of your breastfeeding journey. It is 90% water, and 10% carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

 

Mature milk can be broken down into two types: foremilk and hindmilk. The foremilk, or first milk, is high in carbohydrates, whereas the hind milk, or last milk is high in fat.

 

When you begin nursing (or pumping), your breasts will automatically begin to release foremilk, then slowly transition to hindmilk. There is no distinct switch from foremilk to hindmilk, rather it is a gradual process.

ESTABLISHING A MILK SUPPLY

via GIPHY

After giving birth, you should be able to begin nursing immediately, assuming that both you and the baby are stable, and there are no significant issues with the latch.

 

Ideally, it is best to nurse within the first hour, but if circumstances don’t allow it, you will both be fine.

Not having that chance to nurse immediately is not going to destroy your ability to produce or your baby’s ability to suckle.

During the first few weeks, your body is trying to figure out how much milk it needs to produce.

 

For this reason, feeding on demand is often recommended to new mothers.

 

Most babies will naturally show hunger every 2-3 hours, and eat anywhere from 30-45 minutes.

 

If your baby is going significantly longer than 3 hours without nursing, or is taking over an hour to eat, speak with your hospital’s lactation consultant to make sure that your baby is latching correctly, and to get ideas about how to keep them awake.

 

 

THE LATCH

A proper latch is the most critical element for a good nursing experience. I can’t stress this enough. The difficult thing is that while sucking is a natural reflex for babies, nursing is still very much a learned skill.

 

My #1 recommendation in this area is to have a pediatric dentist or ENT check for lip and tongue ties within the first 24 hours.

 

Most pediatricians are not trained to look for these, and lactation consultants frequently miss them as well.

 

Lip and tongue ties will prevent your baby from latching onto your breast properly. A lip or tongue tie may:

 

  • Be extremely painful for the mother
  • Prevent baby from receiving adequate nutrition
  • Cause an oversupply or undersupply of mother’s milk
  • Result in baby taking 1 hour or more to nurse
  • Cause colic in babies due to excessive inhalation of air
  • Cause reflux

 

If your baby has a lip or tongue tie, getting it revised is quick and pain free. The pediatric dentist will apply a local anesthetic, then use a laser to quickly cut the ties, binding the wounds in the process.

 

Assuming your baby is free of lip and tongue ties, here are some great tips to help you achieve the perfect latch.

 

Open wide! Baby needs to have a big, wide mouth to latch correctly. His mouth should fit over much, if not all of your areola. If he doesn’t open his mouth wide enough, he will only suck in the tips of your nipples, which hurts like a mofo. 

 

Pucker up! Baby’s lips must be flanged outward. If his lips are curled in, he will inhale air and become gassy.

 

Nose to boob. Make sure that your baby is close enough to press the tip of his nose to your breast. There is no need to smother him, but he should never have his head bent backward. Try drinking a cup of water like this- it’s hard!

BREASTFEEDING POSITIONS

There are several different ways to hold your baby while nursing them.

Regardless of which position you choose to nurse in, the important thing is to make sure your baby’s body is facing you (they should always be facing forward when they nurse), and that you are tummy-to-tummy.

 

cradle hold nursing mother

In the cradle hold, you latch the baby onto one breast, and position their body across you, so that their feet are near the other breast. You hold their head in the crook of your arm, and often use a nursing pillow to hold them up.

 

CROSS CRADLE HOLD

The cross cradle hold is similar to the cradle hold in that your baby is lying across your body. The difference is that in the cross cradle hold, instead of using your arm and a pillow to support your baby, you use your hand.

FOOTBALL HOLD

In this position, you hold your baby much like a quarterback running in for a touch down. The baby lays lengthwise on the same side as the breast that they are nursing on, with their feet pointed toward your back.

 

SIDE-LYING HOLD

In this position, you and baby lie down on your sides, facing one another. Baby is latched onto your breast with their tummy touching yours.

 

 

NIPPLE PAIN 

While some level of pain and discomfort during breastfeeding is normal at the beginning, extreme pain is not.

via GIPHY

Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a pediatric dentist or ENT check your baby for lip and tongue ties. They are surprisingly common and prevent many mothers from having positive breastfeeding experiences.

 

Assuming your baby doesn’t have any ties, if you are still experiencing pain or discomfort, there are a few things you can do to help your breasts adjust to their new role as a human cafeteria.

 

  • Vary nursing positions. This can help by adjusting which parts of your nipple receive the most pressure from baby’s suction.

 

  • Apply nipple balm. Nipple balm protects and moisturizes your skin to relive or prevent cracks and soreness. I survived off of Lansinoh lanolin cream with my first baby, but I know many moms who have raved about Mother Love nipple cream. Both are safe for your baby to ingest, so you don’t have to wipe it off before the next nursing session.

 

  • Gel pads are often quoted as “magic” and a “lifesaver” by nursing moms. Lansinoh has some great gel pads that many mothers store in the fridge to extend their use up to 3 weeks!

 

  • Apply breastmilk and let air dry. Many mothers swear by this. Personally, I didn’t notice a difference, but hey, it’s completely free and takes two seconds, so it’s worth a shot!

 

  • Blow dry or air dry nipples. Regardless of if you apply breastmilk to your nipples, you should give them time to thoroughly dry after nursing your baby. Warm, damp environments are a breeding ground for fungus, so if you want to steer clear of thrush, dry those puppies off before you tuck them back into your bra.

 

  • Wear loose fitting clothing. This is helpful when you don’t have the time to air dry. Let’s be real- you probably want to sleep every spare second you have, not spend your time blowing on your own nipples. Loose fitting clothing is also helpful to relieve pressure on your breasts from sudden engorgement.

FREQUENCY OF FEEDINGS

A newborn will eat about every 2-3 hours for about 30-45 minutes (15-20 minutes per breast).

 

Total, this will be anywhere from 8-12 times per day.

 

By the time your baby is 3 months old, he should be eating every 3-4 hours, with longer stretches at night.

 

There are no hard-set rules about exactly how often or how long your baby will eat at each stage of development. All babies are a little different, so it is helpful to maintain a level of flexibility with your expectations. This is why many people recommend feeding on demand in the early days.

HUNGER CUES


via GIPHY

You don’t need to wait until your baby is wailing to determine that he is hungry. There are several things that your baby will do to indicate his hunger before he becomes hangry.

 

If you fail to recognize his early hunger cues and your baby moves into hangry zone (it happens to the best of us), you will probably have to calm him down before he is able to eat.

 

Recognizing a baby’s hunger cues is a learning process. In fact, it’s really confusing as a first time parent.

 

Everyone who told you that you will just know forgot what it’s like in the beginning.

 

You will learn, just as they did. And by the time your baby is 6 months old, you will have gotten so used to meeting their needs that you will feel like you just know.

 

Here’s a handy infographic of cues to help you out until you get there.

 

HOW MUCH MILK YOUR BABY SHOULD DRINK, AND DIRTY DIAPERS THEY SHOULD PRODUCE, BY AGE

 

How much should you expect your baby to eat? How do you know if he is getting enough?

 

Those are nerve-wracking questions, and the answers change daily in the life of a newborn.

 

To help you out, I created this handy little info graphic.

 

 

 

 

I feel that it is critical to note that if you are pumping in addition to breastfeeding, the amount of milk that you collect is not necessarily reflective of how much you are actually producing.

 

That probably sounds ridiculous, but it’s not. Some women just don’t produce as well for a pump.

 

Additionally, babies are much better at emptying the breast than a pump is.

 

The best indicators for whether or not your baby is receiving enough milk is if they are meeting the wet/dirty diaper quota, and gaining weight steadily.

 

Many first time moms freak out because their baby was born small and stays smaller than other kids their age. They assume that they are not producing enough milk.

 

The reality is, genetics also play a role.

 

Smaller people have smaller babies. Bigger people have bigger babies.

MOTHER’S DIET

 

While it’s possible for some mothers to produce enough milk while on a diet of pizza and pop tarts, it won’t be for most of us.

 

For optimal milk production, your diet should be high in protein, carbohydrates and dark leafy vegetables.

 

One of the most overlooked parts of a nursing mom’s diet is WATER.

A great goal to shoot for is a half ounce per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, try to drink 75 ounces of water.

 

It sounds like a lot- and it is- but dehydration can shrivel up your milk supply like a prune.

 

The best way to do this is by using a water bottle with measurements on the side. My personal preference has always been Blender Bottles because of their tight seal.

 

Another factor to consider about your diet is potential allergens for your baby. Some babies are sensitive to certain foods in their mother’s milk.

 

These allergens will cause your baby to have an upset stomach which makes them pretty cranky and not a lot of fun to be around.

 

By not a lot of fun to be around, I actually mean miserable to be around.

 

Unfortunately, the most common allergen is dairy.

I know. It sucks. I feel for you. I’m in your boat right now.

 

To determine if your baby has a food sensitivity, begin by eliminating dairy for 2 weeks. It takes a while for the cows milk protein to clear your system.

 

If you notice a difference in your baby’s behavior after that time, jackpot!

 

If not, you should seriously consider doing an elimination diet. It sucks, but it’s better than getting screamed at for hours a day.

 

Related: Best Breastfeeding Diet: What to Eat, Galactagogues, Food Allergies, and Alcohol

One Last Note

I feel like it is really important to say this: Not every woman will be able to produce enough milk for her baby, and that’s okay.

 

Throughout history, as long as there has been a record of lactating mothers, there has also been a record of mothers struggling to meet their baby’s nutritional needs.

 

Being unable to provide enough breast milk for your child does not make you any less of a mother.

I repeat, being unable to provide enough breast milk for your child does not make you any less of a mother.

 

There are many factors that go into breast milk production, some of which are outside of a woman’s control.

 

In the past, if a wet nurse was not readily available, the baby would die. Animal’s milk was sometimes used, but it was largely unsuccessful for infants.

 

Today we are fortunate to live in a time where babies are able to survive and flourish regardless of access to breastmilk, assuming there is access to clean water and pure formula.

 

While many breastfeeding activists are quick to boast that breastfed babies will fare better in terms of intelligence, risk of obesity, and overall health, sibling studies show otherwise.

 

While breast milk is undeniably more nutritious than infant formula, when we look observe long term results, breastfed children have the same outcomes as their formula fed counterparts.

 

You probably don’t believe you, and I don’t blame you. I encourage you to check out the study for yourself. It’s not the most exciting read in the world, but it’s worth your time, especially if you are feeling guilty about not producing enough milk.

 

On a personal level, I absolutely support breastfeeding. I have, and continue to breastfeed both of my daughters, the oldest of whom is 2.5 years old.

 

That being said, I have experienced significant psychological damage from breastfeeding; damage that hindered me from being able to connect with my oldest child for quite a while. So I also realize that it isn’t the best option for everyone.

 

Related: Feeding on Demand: What I Learned Might Surprise You

 

I don’t think that any mother should be guilted, shamed, or scared into making decisions that compromise her wellbeing.

 

So while the health of children is important, so is the health of mothers.

 

Good luck on your breastfeeding journey! I hope that you find it to be a wonderful, rewarding experience.

  

But if by chance you don’t, know that you are not alone.