Breastfeeding: The Good, Bad, and Ugly secrets to Nursing

Are you or someone you know, expecting a baby and trying to determine if breastfeeding is the right option? Breastfeeding: The Good, Bad, and Ugly secrets to Nursing will answer the most frequently asked questions about breastfeeding and help you get started on your journey.

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Expressed breast milk

How to Determine if breastfeeding is right for you?

Deciding whether to breastfeed or formula is one of the most significant decisions expectant and new parents will make. For many, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed based on their comfort level, lifestyle, and medical situations. The decision to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is a personal one. Weighing each method's pros and cons can help you decide whether breastfeeding your baby is the right decision for you. This post will focus on breastfeeding information and will help you make an informed decision about how to feed your baby. 

How to prepare for breastfeeding?

1.     Make Prenatal care a priority. It is essential to take good care of yourself and your baby. 
2.     Set reasonable expectations and goals.
3.     Consider taking a breastfeeding class. Some women find that taking a class helps better prepare them to nurse their babies.
4.     Purchase Breastfeeding items. Plan by purchasing the things you need. 

These can include:

The Good
Breastfeeding mother and baby

Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby

Breast milk will provide optimal nutrition for your baby. It contains essential immunity-boosting antibodies and enzymes vital to the growth and development of your baby. Here are some benefits to breastfeeding your baby:

1.   Keeps baby healthyBreastfeeding reduces the risk of viruses and bacterial infections due to the antibodies acquired from mom. Nursing your baby also helps protect them from allergy-related issues such as eczema, which are commonly associated with a cow's milk sensitivity. Another benefit includes a better response to vaccines, decreased incidence of obesity, and reduced risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
2.   Less digestion issues. Breastmilk is easier for your baby to breakdown and absorb, decreasing the likely hood of stomach upset, diarrhea, and constipation. 
3.   Improves baby's brain intellect. Research shows that children who were breastfed, had a higher IQ score than formula-fed children. It is likely due to the increased fatty acids found in breastmilk that promotes brain tissue development and health. 
4.   Increased maternal and child bond. Bottle-fed babies can form relationships with their parents, but the nature of the skin-to-skin contact of breastfeeding is known to increase the bond between mother and baby.

Breastfeeding Benefits for Mom

The benefits of breastfeeding are not exclusive to baby only!  Nursing your baby can improve your health by:

1.   Decreases your postpartum recovery time. Breastfeeding triggers your body to shrink your uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size; therefore, the more you breastfeed, the quicker your uterus will return to its original size. Nursing also helps decrease your risk of excessive postpartum bleeding. 
2.   Lowers risk of osteoporosis, breast, and ovarian cancer. Studies show that women who breastfeed have less chance of these health issues later in life.
3.   Return to pre-pregnancy weight sooner. Breastmilk production burns approximately 300 to 500 calories a day. Couple this with a proper diet and moderate exercise routine, and you can return to your pre-pregnancy weight. 
4.   Saves money. Breastfeeding is virtually free. According to La Leche League International, the cost of formula can range from $134 to $491 per month. 

The "Bad" of Breastfeeding

Here are some things to consider that could complicate your ability to breastfeed, impact your milk supply/quality, or complicate baby's nursing.

Expressed breast milk and pump

Low Milk Supply 

According to the Mayo Clinic, "various factors can cause a low milk supply during breastfeeding, such as waiting too long to start breastfeeding, not breastfeeding, supplementing breastfeeding, an ineffective latch, and use of certain medications. Sometimes previous breast surgery affects milk production.

Other factors that can affect milk production include:
· Premature birth
· Maternal obesity
· Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
· Poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes

Although many women worry about low milk supply, insufficient breast milk production is rare. Most women make one-third more breast milk than their babies typically drink."

Tips to Increase Breastmilk Production

  • Increase your water intake. Staying hydrated is vital for adequate milk production.
  • Increase your caloric intake. To create nutrient-rich milk, a well-balanced diet and adequate caloric intake is essential. Restricting your calories too much can impact your body's ability to produce milk. 
  • Increase the frequency of feeding sessions. 
  • Limit alcohol and tobacco use. Alcohol and tobacco are notorious offenders and impact your body's ability to produce milk. 
  • Limit stress.
  • Check your medications. 
  • Pump after feeds. 
  • Rest.

"Bad" Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding

  1. Fish High in Mercury- Certain types of fish, such as swordfish and king mackerel, have high mercury levels. Too much mercury can impact brain development in babies. 
  2. Coffee and Tea- Too much caffeine in coffee and tea will stimulate, both you and baby, affecting sleep patterns.
  3. Parsley, Peppermint, and Sage- While these herbs are a great way to add flavor to your meals, they can also harm your milk supply. 
  4. "Gassy" Foods-Foods that typically cause gas with you, such as:
  • beans 
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage 
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • spinach

Medications While Breastfeeding

Several medications are not recommended for use while pregnant and breastfeeding. Be sure to check with your medical health practitioner to see if your drugs are safe to take while breastfeeding

The Ugly Secrets to Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Mother

Cracked nipples

Cracking and dryness of the nipples do occur while nursing and are a result of a bad latch. Avoid cracked nipples by evaluating potential causes to the bad latch and correct them as soon as possible.  


According to Mayo Clinic, mastitis is "a painful infection of the breast tissue. Possible causes are a blocked milk duct or bacteria entering the breast. It usually occurs within the first three months of breastfeeding. Symptoms include breast pain, swelling, warmth, fever, and chills. Antibiotics are required. Mild pain relievers can help with discomfort."
Other Breastfeeding considerations

Nursing in Public Tips

It is inevitable, and you will find yourself having to breastfeed in public. Do not panic, preparation and practice will help you feel at ease when you must breastfeed in public. Here are a few tips that will make things easier.
  1. Be aware of your baby's feeding schedule. Knowing when your baby will feed is vital in determining when and where you can breastfeed him. 
  2. Prep your diaper bag to include:
    1. Nursing covers
    2. Burp Cloth 
  3. Dress for success- wear attire conducive to breastfeeding. A two-piece ensemble with a nursing bra is ideal for breastfeeding in public.  

There you have it! I hope this post on Breastfeeding: The Good, Bad, and Ugly secrets to Nursing.

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