Healthy Start Coalition of Pinellas Inc.

For the Breast Feeding Mother

Breast-feeding is the most natural way to feed a baby. Breast milk is the most ideal food for the newborn because it has all the nutrients needed. A few of the benefits of breastfeeding are as follows:

  • Breast-fed babies are healthier with fewer allergies, less constipation and 60% fewer ear infections
  • Natural milk is easier for your baby to digest
  • Your milk is readily available and changes with the nutritional needs of your baby
  • Breast-feeding provides comfort and contentment, as well as food for the infant
  • There is less tendency for your baby to overfeed
  • Your milk is pure; there’s no need for sterilization

Nursing a baby is a learned experience for both mother and baby. With time and practice, you will learn to recognize your baby’s cues. Relaxation, a calm atmosphere and patience will contribute to a harmonious nursing experience.

Breast Nipple Care

Little to no nipple preparation is needed for breast-feeding. The breast makes its own lubrication called lysosomes, which keeps the nipple area clean.

There is no need to wash the breasts prior to feeding. Showering daily, with no soap on the nipple is sufficient. Special situations, such as flat or inverted nipples (which are not graspable), require extra preparation. If this is your situation, please notify your Lactation Consultant for guidance.

Expressing a small amount of breast milk and applying it to nipples before and after nursing promotes healthy nipples. Also, allow nipples to air dry after feeding.

The breastfeeding mother should purchase a supportive bra which helps maintain the weight of the breast. The bra should have cloth straps and at least three rows of hooks in the back to adjust for fit. Nursing bras have a separate half cup or flap that can be unhooked to allow for breastfeeding while still supporting the breast. A bra does not have to be worn at night unless the mother finds it more comfortable to do so. Avoid plastic-lined breast pads that can trap moisture.


Nutrition for the Breast-Feeding Mother

Breast-feeding mothers need a diet rich in protein, carbohydrates and fluids. Your body may need approximately 500 additional calories per day as well as extra fluids. Drink to satisfy your thirst but do not force fluids. Water is your healthiest choice. Food filters into your breastmilk within 4–6 hours after eating. Food tolerances for you and your baby will be individual. If you find that foods bother either you or your baby, eliminate them from your diet. You do not have to drink milk to make milk, but you still need enough calcium. Ask your health care provider about a calcium supplement if you cannot drink milk. Dairy products ingested by mothers can adversely affect some infants, with abnormal symptoms lasting up to 14 days.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine because they negatively affect your milk. Also, avoid drugs unless they are absolutely necessary and prescribed by your health care provider. Remember to remind your health care provider that you are breastfeeding. Most importantly, don’t smoke. Nicotine is harmful to both you and your baby.

A balanced diet is needed to provide proper nourishment for both you and your baby. Be sure to select foods from each food group. Adequate fluids and calories are needed for milk production.Therefore, weight reduction diets are not recommended during breastfeeding. Breast-feeding promotes gradual weight loss, allowing you to eat well-balanced meals and still lose weight.


Your Changing Milk

Colostrum is the first milk produced in the breasts and is a thick, yellowish or white substance. It contains large amounts of antibodies and is a highly concentrated food source, rich in protein and minerals. A little bit goes a long way with this high quality, low quantity first milk.

Within the first week after your baby’s birth, your breastmilk will begin to change in appearance, quantity and content. Your milk is evolving from colostrum to transitional milk to mature milk. During this stage some breast fullness may occur. However, frequent and unrestricted nursings can alleviate this fullness.