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Breastfeeding Q&A with Sulane Knight

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Breastfeeding Q&A with Sulane Knight

All throughout the month of August (National Breastfeeding Month), we asked you to submit your breastfeeding related questions to our Director of Nursing, Sulane Knight! After compiling them all, we have your answers!

Take a second to learn a little and we hope that this will help nursing moms, expectant mothers, and their support system.

Why does it take longer for breast milk to come in after a c-section?

Sulane: Any mother who has a stressful birth, such as a cesarean section, may experience their milk coming in a little later than what is considered normal (around 72 hours after birth). There is no clear evidence that c-sections inhibit milk production, but often mothers are groggy, tired, and in pain after stressful births and are not able to breast feed immediately after which in turn may delay milk production. Research tells us that early and frequent sucking helps switch on the milk-making cells, so the earlier you can begin breastfeeding the longer and more frequent your body will produce milk. If there is a delay in beginning to breastfeed due to way the birth occurs, there can be a delay, but that doesn't mean it won't happen at all. Just keep trying and work with your doctors.

Why does it hurt when the baby latches onto the breast at the beginning of feeding time? It feels like I'm having a contraction.

Sulane: The uterus is a muscle and each pregnancy tends to over stretch that muscle. Nipple stimulation and latching during breastfeeding releases a hormone called oxytocin into your bloodstream which causes the contraction of all smooth muscles to help your uterus contract back into its pre-pregnancy shape and size. The contractions that you are feeling are completely normal and they are just your body responding to your baby and putting itself back together again. These contractions also help reduce postpartum blood loss, so although you may be uncomfortable keep in mind that these cramps are helping your body heal. The pains often go away within the first couple of weeks after your delivery. If they persist or are too much to handle, consult your health care providers.

Why do I leak when I hear a baby cry?

Sulane: Our bodies are incredible machines and are super sensitive to the stimuli around us, especially right after we have a baby. Just like when your stomach grumbles if you smell good cooking food, the cry of an infant tells your brain that a baby is hungry and needs milk. Your body then releases oxytocin which causes the "letdown reflex" so that you can meet the need of whatever your baby (or a random crying baby) wants. If this happens to you frequently, you may wear disposable or washable breast pads to collect any milk that may leak. Don't doubt how strong and capable your body is. It will become more in control of the release of breast milk the longer you breastfeed.

If a breastfeeding mom is not eating "good, nutritious" food (easting fast food and candy), is the baby not receiving adequate nutrients? Would it be better to switch to a formula based on the mom's diet?

Sulane: This is a great question and then answer is almost simple - The human body is so amazing! A mom's body will produce milk rich with nutrients based on the infant's needs regardless of what you eat. The nipple actually has several receptors that will react with the saliva in your infant's mouth every time. THis reaction tells your body what nutrients your baby needs and then starts working on a new batch of milk that contains those specific nutrients. Milk can change in composition from one feeding to the next (you can even be producing different milk out of each nipple if you are feeding twins with different needs!). The downside to a mom having a bad diet is that the body may take nutrients from the mom and give them to the baby and if you aren't getting your own surplus of nutrients from your diet then you may begin to feel tired and sick. I would not recommend switching to formula or supplementing formula just because you have a sweet tooth. The antibodies and nutrients that breast milk contains far outweighs formula.

Does Blue Mountain Hospital offer any birthing, breastfeeding, or new mom classes?

Sulane: Due to COVID-19, BMH does not offer a breastfeeding class at this time. However, we do have nurses that teach and participate with public health in offering and teaching a class (which have currently also been put on hold, but we are hopeful that they will resume soon). At BMH, we have a trained staff to help with lactation issues after a mom delivers, we have pumps available that moms can use in the hospital to get their milk production started, and we can offer a variety of resources and videos to teach you and help you be successful in your breastfeeding journey. Public Health is also willing to assist any new mom that needs breastfeeding help regardless of insurance or WIC status. Successful breastfeeding is important to us all and we are always here to help.

Thank you to everyone for your incredible questions! If you have any more, please feel free to reach out so we can help.