When you choose to breastfeed your child, you are choosing to nourish them through a wondrous process. It’s actually quite amazing how your body knows what it’s doing. Your body makes this incredible substance, filled with vitamins, minerals, antibodies, fats, proteins, and anything else your baby may need. It’s like a multivitamin capsule, but way more advanced. Not to mention that as your baby grows and their needs change, your breast milk changes, too. It’s as though your dietary supplements could just intuit what you need and change overnight to give you the correct nutrition for the specific day you’re having. It’s kind of nuts.
Of course, not all moms choose to breastfeed their children, not all moms can breastfeed their children, and not all moms have the time to do so, either, opting to pump breast milk with a breast pump and bottle feed the baby. All of these are completely legitimate ways to go about nourishing your child. Despite the oceans of advice that you’re sure to receive from everyone about how to be the best mom, remember that the best baby is a healthy baby. If what’s best for your baby is to drink formula or breast milk you used a pump to get, that’s great!
Nevertheless, it can be confusing to know what you can eat when you’re breastfeeding your little one. Does any addition to your diet change the milk? Of course, you’re not supposed to drink alcohol or too much caffeine, but what is safe to take? Read on to learn about some supplements that are fine to take, as well as other breastfeeding and pump using tips for new moms.
Taking Supplements When Breastfeeding
There are pros and cons to taking supplements when you are feeding your baby breast milk. At the end of the day, there is no one rule of thumb when it comes to all the supplements out there. You simply have to do your due diligence and check what the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has to say about each one that you’re considering taking. There are many supplements that have had controlled studies carried out. These herbs and extracts are usually vegan, and the information about their influence on your breast milk is right on the FDA website, on their supplement guide.
That being said, there are some supplements that can be extremely helpful to nursing moms. For example, fenugreek, fennel, alfalfa, stinging nettle, and milk thistle are all helpful in maintaining milk supply. An organic milk thistle supplement also has the added benefit of helping maintain great liver health as well. The liver cleans your blood of any contaminants, so if you’re looking to keep your whole body healthy, your liver health is a great place to start. Milk thistle can be taken in a capsule, but you can also find milk thistle in teas or in the form of milk thistle extract. Make sure any supplement you’re taking is organic milk thistle since you’ll want to make sure you’re ingesting the highest quality herbs out there to support your overall liver function.
What to Look for in a Breast Pump
OK, you’ve decided to pump — that’s great! Pumping can help encourage more milk production, help you get out those extra ounces when your baby missed a feeding because of an ill-planned nap, and can just help you save any extra breast milk you have in milk bags or bottles to use later. Pumping can also be a huge help if you maybe want to leave the house for a couple of hours. Maybe you want to go back to work, or maybe you want to take a walk or visit a friend. Either way, pumping gives you the freedom to do so. You can know that your baby is drinking your pumped milk, and you can have a pump session while you’re out to avoid engorgement — which is not fun.
So what should you look for in a pump? What’s better, a Willow, a Spectra, a Medela, or an Elvie? Who do you trust when you’re reading Willow pump reviews online, as opposed to Elvie pump reviews? It can be hard to make heads or tails of the whole thing, especially if you’re a new mom who has never done any pumping before.
The first thing you need to decide is if you want an electric pump or a manual pump. An electric pump can be hands-free with the right nursing bra, which is kind of amazing for getting things done, but you need to think about cords and having a place to plug it in. You can’t just have a pumping session anywhere—you’ll need an electrical outlet. A manual pump doesn’t have that problem, of course, but it can be harder to get as much milk as you would with an electric option. There are also wireless breast pumps these days. Whatever you do, though, don’t lose the pump parts!
One thing to make absolutely sure of is that the flange you’re using is the correct size for your nipple. The flange is the piece that fits over your nipple and actually uses suction to express the milk into a bottle or storage bag for you to refrigerate or freeze. There will be plenty of opportunities for your nipples to be irritated when you’re breastfeeding, especially if it’s your first time. You don’t want to add the wrong size flange to the mix.
Look at all the models of the Willow pump and see if they fit your requirements. Take your lifestyle into consideration. Will you be pumping at work? At home? Will you be pumping on the go? Read any Willow breast pump review carefully. Check if your insurance company will cover the cost of a certain breast pump model—sometimes they do. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of quality time with your pump so you want to make the best choice.
Estrogen and Vaginal Dryness
One of the side effects of hormonal changes that people don’t tend to talk about is vaginal discomfort or vaginal dryness. Although vaginal dryness is an extremely common symptom of changing estrogen levels, especially in older women, it’s considered taboo, or uncomfortable to discuss.
Well, let’s discuss. The truth is that being pregnant and giving birth are times of major hormonal shifts, almost as much as those that postmenopausal women experience. The estrogen in your body is all over the place. Your estrogen levels may actually shift from one day to the next, due to a number of factors. Low estrogen often results in vaginal dryness or vaginal discomfort, which can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable or even painful, no matter how much foreplay you have with your partner.
It’s important to know that there’s nothing wrong with you or your relationship. Sexual intercourse after having a baby is complicated and trying to force it can result in a urinary tract infection or other medical conditions. Take your time getting back your mojo. Make sure that your partner understands vaginal dryness and how it impacts your sex drive. Discuss the dryness in your vagina with a gynecologist to get advice on how to proceed. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking hormonal supplements, but you won’t know until you discuss your medical options with a doctor.
Being a new mom is hard—on your body, on your relationship, on your sleep. But it’s also a wondrous time of love and light. Your little one is a miracle, and figuring out these details are just the logistics. The point is that you get to see that sweet face every day. Everything else will work itself out with the right advice and some patience.