August is National Breastfeeding Month, a great opportunity to speak with a lactation consultant on what mothers should know and expect during their breastfeeding journey. Bobbi Taman, an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant at UF Health North, shared her expertise in how to educate and advocate for women and their babies. Bobbi has been helping mothers breastfeed for the past 15 years of her career.
Q: What does a lactation consultant do?
A: Lactation consultants provide prenatal breastfeeding education. They continue to provide education and support after the baby is born and throughout a mother’s breastfeeding journey. Lactation consultants also lead support groups for moms and provide medical staff education. Some lactation consultants work in various places outside of the hospital as well, such as pediatrician offices, WIC offices, the Healthy Start Program and OB-GYN offices.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about breastfeeding?
A: Many people think that because breastfeeding is natural, both the mom and their baby should automatically know how to breastfeed right after the birth. But in the beginning, both mom and baby learn from each other through the experience. There can be a learning curve involved for some.
The expectation of milk volume is another misconception. The typical woman produces about 26-28 ounces of milk in a day. Some moms think they are supposed to produce a massive amount of milk, but most moms produce the exact amount to meet their baby’s nutritional need.
Most parents are not prepared for the lack of sleep a new baby can bring. In the first few months, babies wake up and feed every 1 ½-2 hours during the night. Sleep deprivation is real, so parents should rest or sleep when baby sleeps. Breastfeeding has been shown to improve sleep for mothers with less time awake in between night feedings.
Also, women can exclusively breastfeed. Breast pumps were designed for mothers who are separated from their babies for an extended period of time, such as work or having an infant in the NICU or to allow a partner to help out with feedings. For mothers who are able to stay home and their wish is to exclusively breastfeed, there isn’t a need to breast pump.
It’s also important to note that the breastfeeding experience can vary from child to child. Second and third time mothers will need to learn their new baby and the new baby will need to perfect breastfeeding through experience.
Q: What is the latching process like for moms and babies?
A: The latching process is focused on helping the mom have proper posture and the baby getting a deep latch. It’s important to ensure the mom has good back support and that she is comfortable throughout the feeding. She can create a “breastfeeding throne” with all the supplies she will need for her breastfeeding session. It might include having things nearby like: burping cloths, change of clothes for the baby, snacks for mom while feeding, a comfortable pillow for back support, etc. It is important to make sure the baby faces the breast and that their tummy is touching the mom. It is suggested to place the mother’s nipple to the baby’s nose, this helps the baby tilt their head back and open their mouth wider for a deeper latch.
Q: What’s the most important thing to know about breastfeeding?
A: Breastfeeding requires patience and persistence, the first few weeks are a time of learning and adjustment. As mother and baby become more efficient, breastfeeding will become a wonderful experience and may be one of their fondest memories of their baby. If a mother continues to struggle with breastfeeding, don’t be afraid to reach out for help and get lactation support.
Q: What are some of the benefits of breastfeeding:
- Moms return to pre-pregnancy weight faster, burning 500 extra calories a day
- Moms are less likely to have postpartum depression
- Babies have a lower risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections
- Babies have a reduced risk of some of the childhood cancers
- Babies have less of a chance in developing childhood obesity and diabetes
Q: What are some common problems moms face when they are breastfeeding?
- Sore nipples
- Latching issues
- Lack of trust in their body to produce breast milk
- Concerns if baby is getting enough milk
Q: Should moms who breastfeed be on a special diet?
A: We recommend that moms continue a healthy diet while breastfeeding. There aren’t any restrictions on the types of food a mother can eat, there is no need to avoid spicy or gas forming foods. She should continue taking prenatal or postnatal vitamins. There is a suggestion of no more than 2 servings of caffeine daily and staying well hydrated. Breast milk takes on the flavor of what a mother eats, so we encourage her to eat a wide variety of foods. This allows the baby to be introduced to the family food and to have a more colorful palette.
Q: What support groups does UF Health offer to moms?
A: Breastfeeding 101 Virtual Class is offered the second Tuesday of the month from 6-8 p.m. Moms can learn about the basics of breastfeeding.
The Mommy Mingle: Breastfeeding and Postpartum Support Group at UF Health North is offered every second Tuesday of the month in person at UF Health North from 10:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.
Moms can call the support line at 904-427-3333 to sign up for the classes.