This week is World Breastfeeding week. It is a global campaign to raise awareness and inform people on the importance of breastfeeding.

Jade Elliott spoke with Hollie Wharton, DNP, CNM, WHNP, Nurse Practitioner and Certified Nurse Midwife with Intermountain Healthcare on this episode of the Baby Your Baby Podcast to discuss how to succeed at breastfeeding.

Taking Care of Yourself Will Help You Succeed at Breastfeeding

When you have a baby, it’s easy to become so focused on taking care of this tiny human who is so dependent on you, that you forget to take care of yourself.

It’s like when you’re on an airplane and you learn that in an emergency you should put on your own oxygen mask first so you’re able to put the mask on your child.

If you’re trying to breastfeed, and you don’t take care of yourself and your body, it will be harder for your body to produce enough milk for your baby to thrive.

New moms need to stay hydrated, and eat and sleep enough to produce enough breast milk

Sleep: With baby waking at night, the sleep part can be hard, so you need to nap during the day when the baby naps. Your sleep goal should total eight hours in a 24-hour period. Meaning, if you get less than eight hours of sleep at night, you need to nap during the day to total eight hours.

Hydration: Drink six eight-ounce glasses (or two to three liters) of water a day. Plain water with no additives is best. Try to drink before you’re thirsty. It is a good idea to have a container of water next to you while you are breastfeeding. The Intermountain mug given to you in the hospital is perfect to help you keep track. It is easier to get dehydrated with breastfeeding and during hotter months, so make sure to keep up on fluids.

Eat well: Eat plenty of vegetables, lean protein, fruit and whole grains. Fresh fruits and vegetables have more nutrients and antioxidants than canned. Limit the amount of processed foods that contain white flour, sugar, refined grains, additives and preservatives. You need about 2,000 calories per day on average, but when you’re breastfeeding, you need an additional 500 calories to maintain a good milk supply. If you notice your milk supply decreasing, look at your caloric intake.

Reduce stress: Don’t try to do too many things while you’re still recovering from childbirth. After delivery, your focus should be on taking care of yourself and your baby. This is not a time to host friends or family, or take on significant household chores.

Benefits of breastfeeding

The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breastmilk help protect babies from illness. Your first milk, called colostrum for its deep yellow color, is like liquid gold. This milk is very rich in nutrients and includes antibodies to protect your baby from infections.

Colostrum changes into mature milk by the third to fifth day after birth. This mature milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby continue to grow.

Breast feeding is also a great benefit to the environment and society. Breastfeeding families are sick less often and parents miss less work. Breastfeeding does not require the use of energy for manufacturing or create waste or air pollution. There is no risk of contamination and it is always at the right temperature and ready to feed. Click here to learn more about making the decision whether or not to breastfeed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages breastfeeding for its health benefits to babies and moms.

Breastfeeding protects babies from a variety of diseases and conditions including:

• Respiratory or urinary tract infections

• Asthma

• Ear infections

• Diarrhea

• Diabetes

• Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Hodgkins disease

• Childhood obesity

Maternal health benefits to breastfeeding

• Decreased postpartum bleeding

• More rapid return of uterus to pre-pregnancy size

• Decrease in menstrual periods and increased child spacing

• Earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight

• Decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers

Six Things to Know to Make Breastfeeding Successful

1. Practice skin to skin contact. Benefits: it helps stabilize the baby’s temperature, breathing, and heart rate. They will cry less. It stimulates brain development. It encourages mom to breastfeed, improves milk production, reduces postpartum complications and depression. It also is vital to bonding and important for both parents to do this when each is holding the baby, if they are able.

2. After your milk supply is established and your baby has returned to their birth weight, you can feed your baby on demand. Nurse your baby when they’re hungry. Watch for feeding cues: routing, sucking on hand, crying when not wet or uncomfortable.

3. Babies have growth spurts and may need to nurse more frequently at times. Allowing your baby to dictate the frequency and duration of feedings is an important to ensure your milk supply is adequate.

4. Breastfeeding works by supply and demand. The more baby nurses, the more milk your body will produce. In addition, a baby’s suck is more successful at removing breastmilk, compared to a pump or hand expression.

5. Breast milk digests more easily and quickly than formula. This will help prevent newborn constipation, but will increase the need for more frequent feedings.

Breast-fed babies need to eat often. The colostrum that’s in breast milk in the first few weeks is digested in about 45 minutes. Breast milk is digested in approximately 1.5 hours. Formula takes about 3-4 hours to digest.

6. If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, talk to a lactation consultant at the hospital or after you go home.

**Please make sure to watch for signs and symptoms of breast infection. These include breast tenderness, redness, and engorgement associated with abrupt onset of fever. If you develop painful lumps with breastfeeding, reach out to your provider so we can help you before it turns into an infection.

To learn about lactation consultation, click here.

For information on a virtual breastfeeding course, click here.

The Baby Your Baby program provides many resources for all pregnant women and new moms in Utah. There is also expert advice from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Healthcare that air each week on KUTV 2News.