This post is sponsored by The Breastfeeding Shop.
Every new mother spends hours agonizing over whether she is making the right decisions. Each day, she receives advice–both solicited and unsolicited–that adds to that agony. While intended to be helpful, advice from passersby and sometimes even our own moms are contradictory to what the experts say.
When was the last time you saw a breastfeeding mother take a sip of wine or drink a beer without someone asking her if she was going to “pump and dump?”
I talked to some experts to get to the bottom of this. Mostly for my own piece of mind as I’ve definitely had a beer while nursing (sometimes even at the same time!) and a to ease the minds of new moms out there. Here’s what I found.
1. Drinking alcohol
First, let’s be clear about what I’m talking about regarding drinking. Don’t get drunk and nurse your baby. Everyone agrees that is a bad idea.
Second, if you don’t want to drink while breastfeeding, no one is judging you. If you do want to drink, let’s extend the “moderation is key” principle here. One or two drinks is a good rule of thumb when breastfeeding.
If you want to “pump and dump” then do it! We’re not going to judge you for that either This is your body, your child, and your decision. Leigh Anne O’Connor, an IBCLC says, “It is generally considered safe to drink moderately while breastfeeding.” To be clear, she means one or two drinks.
2. Breast implants
Women who have had breast implants can still safely and effectively breastfeed. I had a friend who successfully breastfed two babies after having silicone breast implants. She had no problems nursing or pumping. Of course, if you have any concerns about how your implants may affect your health or your breastfeeding relationship, consult your doctor or a local lactation consultant.
I know the last thing new moms want to think about is going to the gym, but some mothers want to get out and get moving after giving birth. (Especially those who were active before and during their pregnancy.) There’s no reason you can’t do this as a breastfeeding mother.
Remember all of those times you sat down to nurse and immediately were parched? Make sure that you increase your water intake when exercising. Be careful to not wear overly restrictive clothing as they may increase the risk of clogged ducts. I found some great nursing sports bras that were supportive and made it easy to breastfeed when needed.
4. Pumping and bottle-feeding
One thing I hear a lot about breastfeeding is that pumping may decrease your supply. (Well, clearly that one isn’t true!) I have several friends who have exclusively pumped and bottle-fed their babies for over a year!
O’Conner agrees, “Not all pumps are created equally, and not all people respond to pumps the same way.” This is one area where quality counts! Make sure you are taking advantage of your free breast pump. “In some cases pumping can increase your supply. It may also depend on when during your breastfeeding journey you start pumping,” she said.
The same is true for bottle-feeding pumped milk. Every baby is different! I always wanted the freedom to leave my child if necessary with a bottle, due to this crazy lifestyle we live. I started a bottle around four weeks with my kids. They were fine. O’Conner advises that you use a slow flow bottle and be intentional with your bottle-feeding times.
5. Donating blood
This one’s a bit personal for me: I’ve been a blood donor for years! About six months after having my third child, I headed in to give blood. Man, you’d have thought I was crazy! The questions prior to blood donation are intense anyway, but this was even more so. I had already asked my midwife, I’d checked the blood donation requirements, and I was good to go. But no one could understand why I was doing this.
To be clear, I was not breastfeeding my baby while donating blood, but you’d have thought I was doing that while turning cartwheels in an elephant costume. Sheesh. Anyway, I asked O’Connor about this and she wasn’t able to find a single piece of research that indicated a breastfeeding woman couldn’t give blood. Be reasonable: Wait a few months, make sure you are feeling up to it. You don’t have to, but if you want to, you can.
6. Getting a tattoo or body piercing
Sometimes that breastfeeding journey seems to last forever! If, during that time period you want to get a tattoo or a new piercing, and just don’t want to wait until your done breastfeeding, it’s okay. If you already have a piercing, remove it prior to breastfeeding and keep an eye on your baby. Call a lactation consultant if you have worries.
If you want to get a tattoo while breastfeeding, you can do that as well. As with all things that you are concerned may affect you or your baby, check with your doctor and/or a lactation consultant first.
Rest easy, moms! You’re making the right decision for you and your baby each and every day. Hopefully some of this information helps you sleep better at night. (Well, you know what I mean. Not actually sleep, because you have a baby, but at least put those concerns out of your mind.) You’re doing great. Hang in there. We’ve got your back.
The Breastfeeding Shop provides name-brand, high-quality breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Catering to the military community, the Breastfeeding Shop’s quick and easy service ensures that TRICARE beneficiaries can receive breast pumps and supplies at no-cost to them.
By Rebecca Alwine