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“What the heck am I meant to eat more of when breastfeeding?" and 7 other questions we asked a lactation expert.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Elevit

So… you grew a human! High-five, you absolute legend.  

For the bulk of a year, that ridiculously talented and efficient body of yours took a couple of cells and turned them into an actual person. While you were at work or watching Bridgerton or napping, your body was making organs and, like… eyelashes and stuff. 

Take a moment to show your incredible self some gratitude and awe. Aaaand, moment over – welcome to motherhood. Time hits different here. 

The fact is, after you’ve completed this whole ‘growing life’ palaver, you're then needing to feed said life.

If you, your body and baby are keen and able to breastfeed, no doubt you’ll have some questions. 

Breastfeeding is a time you'll get nutritionally sucked dry (literally and figuratively). Your energy levels (well, what’s left of them anyway) take a dive, and your immune system can become weaker than your pelvic floor. This is where taking a suitable daily multivitamin for your body's and your baby’s development needs is a great option. 

But what to take? A supplement brand with plenty of somethin’ for mum and baby, like Elevit. 

This is where a supplement like Elevit Breastfeeding can be beneficial, as it has a stellar lineup of essential nutrients: lutein and betacarotene (supporting healthy development of baby’s brain and eyesight), omega-3 (also supporting baby’s brain and eyesight development), B group vitamins and iron (to support mums' energy levels), and vitamin C and zinc (to support mums' immune system).

But, what else is actually helpful to know about breastfeeding? Mamamia reached out to Judy Tripodi, Nurse and Lactation Consultant from Tresillian, to help us out with some of these questions. 

What exactly are B group vitamins and what do they have to do with breastfeeding?

Studies have shown that the first 1,000 days (from sperm-meets-egg day, to your babe’s second birthday) are a critically significant window for laying the foundations of good health and nutrition, for your baby's rapid growth and development.

Mums who have been in the motherhood business a while know the position comes with zero sick leave, so something to support your own immune health, and energy levels and even support your breastmilk production is very handy.

This is where B group vitamins (or B-complex) are brilliant for supporting your energy levels, as they work to help your body use the fuel it gets from food. This feels pretty important when required to “adult” on 3 hours of broken sleep. 

Ain’t nobody got time for cooking in those early days of motherhood (especially if you're adding breastfeeding on top of that mental load, too). So, this is where taking a tailored supplement with essential vitamins and minerals, including B group vitamins, each day to support your nutrition can feel like the self-care metaphor of putting your own oxygen mask on first. 

I’m breastfeeding and ravenous… that’s pretty normal, right?

Absolutely! 

Judy says breastfeeding parents really need to look after themselves by aiming for “a well-balanced nutritious diet” because as it turns out, for someone who's breastfeeding, it's actually the most nutritionally demanding time in their life. 

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In fact, your nutritional needs jump up to a whopping 88 per cent.

I heard I can’t have a coffee and chocolate if I'm breastfeeding. Is that a myth?

Oh, happy days – Judy says some chocolate and coffee should be totally fine (cue breastfeeding mums weeping with relief). 

Judy’s main take away with all things breastfeeding is to remember that “breastfeeding is very individual for mum and baby”. This applies to what foods affect your babe to how much milk you produce. We’re all individual so we need to steer away from the "one-size-fits-all frame of mind". 

She said “there is no need to avoid any particular foods when breastfeeding – just see how your baby reacts to foods that you eat,” and if they become cranky or unwell, “chat to your health professional about removing some foods from your diet.”

What are the breastfeeding rules that have been ditched (so I can politely educate anyone giving me unsolicited advice)?

Judy says "demand feeding" has been misunderstood, and resulted in exhausted parents feeding “every hour of the day and night.” 

The latest qualified medical advice is “to look at your baby’s hunger cues and offer a feed. Baby may only want one breast or both. Baby may want a feed after 2 hours or happily sleep for 4 hours. Baby may cluster feed, which means feed every hour and then sleep for 5 hours.” 

Do I need to feed from both of my boobs? Why?

Judy says that breast milk generally comes in between day three and five after the baby is born. In those early days of establishing breastfeeding, she recommends thinking of it like a 3-course meal where you “offer the main breast for the feed twice” – likening this to a baby’s entrée and main. And then, if baby is still hungry, offer other breast for dessert. A boob buffet! Lucky babe! 

"As a rule, we advise to start the next feed on the other breast or if you had fed from both in the previous feed, then start on the breast that baby last finished from.

“The main point is that you want each breast to have equal stimulation and milk removal, as this will help with milk supply and avoid any problems like blocked ducts and mastitis.” 

If you do get symptoms of mastitis creeping up (feeling yuck, sore boobs, running a high temperature), it's important to see your doctor for medical advice.

To help answer your questions too around pregnancy and breastfeeding, Elevit’s free Ask a Doctor service is amazing for new parents. During standard business hours, you can text chat with an independent, Australian-qualified GP your questions straight from your device. It’s easy to use and doesn't require you to actually talk on the phone, let alone get out of your milk-stained comfy pants and face the world if you're not feeling it that day. Win. 

Any tips for the first timers who are finding breastfeeding tough, Judy? 

So, you’ve likely been told that breastfeeding is the most natural process in the world. You read somewhere that you can simply place baby onto your chest and let the little darling forage for the nipple themselves. 

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Look, that might actually happen, and if it does – wonderful! To anyone else, Judy is here with this very practical suggestion. So, she says to “hold baby close to you where their chest is against your breast. Point your nipple to baby top lip or nose, you can even touch their top lip with your nipple” – so this makes the baby smell the milk – “when baby has a big wide mouth” – think of that clown game you find at all carnivals, that’s what you’re after – “then bring baby to your breast and” BAM! Latch Down! Apparently “this will help baby get a deeper attachment or latch on the breast.” 

Some parents do find breastfeeding excruciating and wonder if that’s normal. Judy said that “breastfeeding should not be painful, but it’s considered normal in those early days that when baby is first on the breast, and stretching your nipple to the back of their mouth can cause some discomfort.” 

You don’t say? But, like the sleepless nights and your first bowel motion post birth… “it will all pass". If additional support is needed, speak to your GP and there's also the option of speaking to a qualified lactation consultant for guidance.

What’s the low-down on mixed feeding? 

Judy said “certainly, there may be the need for mixed feeding” which could involve feeding with the breast first, followed by formula.   

Judy added “top ups can be common in certain cultures or if partners want to give the breastfeeding parent a break and feed baby from the bottle.” She said “either expressed breast milk or formula” can be used for this. She urges parents to always seek advice from a medical professional as “babies may prefer to bottle feed and reject the breast or mums milk supply may decrease.” 

If it's not working out, or I'd like to finish up, how do I stop breastfeeding? 

Judy confirms “if you want to stop breastfeeding and have established your own lactation, then best to do gradually to avoid blocked ducts or mastitis." Again, seek professional medical advice on how to do this. The Australian Breasting Feeding Association, Tresillian and Elevit’s Ask Doctor Service are all brilliant resources for information and expert help. 

Good luck, parents. You grew a human. You’re feeding said human. You’re a magician. Before you know it, your boobs will be replaced by fruit and vegetable mush and, in time, maybe even dinosaur-shaped nuggets. 

For now, be kind to yourself. You’re doing incredibly.

Did you know that in breastfeeding a woman's nutritional requirements increase by up to 88 per cent? 

Elevit Breastfeeding has been specially tailored to help meet the increased nutritional requirements of breastfeeding women. It helps support mum’s energy and immunity levels, as well as baby’s ongoing healthy development.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

Statistic source: National Health and Medical Research Council. Nutrient Reference Values including Recommended Dietary Intakes 2006.

Feature Image: Getty. 

Elevit
Did you know that in breastfeeding a woman's nutritional requirements increase by up to 88 per cent? It can be difficult to meet these new requirements as a new parent so taking a supplement like Elevit Breastfeeding can help you. Elevit Breastfeeding supports your nutritional levels with a tailored formulation of key vitamins and minerals to support your baby's brain, eyes and ongoing healthy development. Click here to learn more about Elevit Breastfeeding.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.