Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon.
You’re home from the hospital and may have some struggles with breastfeeding your child right about now. Are you thinking about introducing a bottle? Are you hearing rumors about breastfeeding that you’re unsure if they’re true? Dr. Jen Lincoln discusses some breastfeeding woes with your 5-week-old.
Bundoo: Some breastfeeding moms are nervous about introducing a bottle to their exclusively breastfed babies. When would you say is a good time to make this introduction?
Dr. Jen Lincoln: If able, I would wait until breastfeeding is well established. This means that mom and baby get into a good breastfeeding groove without any latching issues, and that mom has had a chance to let her supply establish. Usually this is after 4-6 weeks postpartum, but can be longer if any issues arise. The goal here is to keep the focus on breastfeeding initially and not introduce any artificial nipples that can get in the way of baby learning how to latch and suck properly, and keeps mom from worrying about pumping and introducing a bottle sooner than is really necessary.
As a breastfeeding consultant, what’s the one piece of advice you wish you could give all breastfeeding moms?
Don’t wait until you have your baby to learn about breastfeeding! You’d never try and drive a car without knowing which pedals to press and how to turn it on, and breastfeeding is similar — a little preparation can help you avoid potholes and pitfalls. Know normal feeding patterns for newborns and how to know they are getting enough, as well as the basics of latching. This can help boost your confidence and spot any problems as soon as they arise. Then when you do start breastfeeding, while it will still be a learning curve, you will at least have an idea of what to expect and feel prepared.
With allergies rising, it seems like there is a lot of advice out there about when and how to introduce babies to potential allergens. Is this something parents of 5-week-old babies should think about?
No. There is no reason to avoid anything in your diet unless you see problems arise in your baby, and to be honest many women (and doctors) incorrectly identify an “allergy” when there really isn’t one (for example, a mom is told to avoid dairy because her baby is “gassy” when in fact the dairy has nothing to do with it). There are no foods that are off-limits when breastfeeding, but if you suspect something in your diet is causing a problem, make sure you see an IBCLC first before eliminating it unnecessarily.
What are the most common misconceptions you hear about breastfeeding and feeding babies in general?
There are so many! And sadly, that’s because the majority of child-bearing women in America haven’t ever been around a breastfed baby or know what’s normal. So many pregnant women are told that breastfeeding will hurt, that it will make your breasts sag, it will ruin your sex life, you’ll never sleep, and that your baby will sleep longer at night if formula-fed. Every last one of these is false! If it sounds scary, it’s probably wrong, so don’t let these people frighten you away from breastfeeding!