This month, KEZI 9 Checks In focuses on the benefits and challenges of breastfeeding. We spoke with Dr. Johanna Higdon with Women's Care Obstetrics & Gynecology about this issue.
KEZI 9 News Anchor Renee McCullough: It’s National Breastfeeding Month, so we wanted to start with the main benefits of breastfeeding.
Dr. Johanna Higdon: There are so many benefits of breastfeeding for mom, for baby and for the two. For mom, it can get rid of some of that pregnancy weight that moms are trying so hard to get rid of. For babies, it's a wonderful source of nutrition. It's very easily digestible and breast milk also passes along antibodies that help protect babies from illnesses and even down the road decreases the risk of getting asthma and other illnesses later in life.
It can be hard for some moms to breastfeed. What should women do if they’re having a tough time?
There are a lot of resources that can help moms with breastfeeding. It can be a challenging thing to get the hang of, and so often, we think of it as a natural thing, but it's a lot of work, so they should talk to their OB-GYN or their pediatrician. If they have access to a lactation consultant or lactation nurse, that's a fantastic resource as well. There are also support groups for breastfeeding moms that can be helpful as well.
Moms cut out a lot of medications and foods to keep their babies safe during pregnancy. Does that carry into breastfeeding as well?
It does. Many and most medications are safe during breastfeeding, but it's important to talk to your doctor or pediatrician before taking those medications. Smoking is definitely something that should be continued to be avoided during breastfeeding. Alcohol can be safe in moderation as long as you allow time for it to be metabolized out of your system before breastfeeding. There are certain foods you should avoid such as fish that are high in mercury like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish. Some foods may be unsafe in high quantities. Parsley and peppermint are things that in high quantities that can decrease breast milk but when eaten in moderation should be fine. Certain foods can make baby more fussy or cause more gas, and although those things aren't unsafe to be eaten during breastfeeding, you may try eliminating some of those things from your diet.
Do women need breast pumps? There’s so many options out there now.
A breast pump can be a very helpful tool during breastfeeding, but it's not a necessary tool. Hand expression is another thing that can be used, but breast pumps can be very helpful and can be obtained through insurance generally.
What if you’ve tried everything and you can’t breastfeed. What kinds of formulas should you look for?
Breastfeeding isn't successful for everyone, and it's important to remember that. There are many formulas out there that are a good nutritious source for baby. Generally, you'd want to start with a cow’s milk formula, and only in occasional circumstances do you need to use soy for your baby. Talking to your pediatrician is another thing that can be very helpful.