Thursday, January 28, 2010

Breastfeeding Basics

I've begun a Breastfeeding Basics learning module course as part of my doula certification requirements, and thusly, you have too :) haha. I'll be posting the most interesting/my favorite little tidbits on here as I go!

1. "I heard you can't get pregnant while breastfeeding"
Breastfeeding has been found to delay the return of the menses after childbirth. This is not a reliable method of birth control but it may increase the time between pregnancies.

In order for you to not get pregnant while breastfeeding you'd have to meet these requirements...

The Lactational Amenorrhea (meaning absence of menstruation) Method (LAM) consists of:
  1. Sole breastfeeding in the first six months of an infant's life.
  2. No interval between feedings of more than five hours.
  3. No supplementation for the infant.
Return of menses and pregnancy are very unlikely if all 3 parameters of LAM are present.

2. You're supposed to gain weight during pregnancy. The amount you "should" gain actually depends on your BMI.
During pregnancy most women are advised to gain 25 to 30 pounds. This breaks down as follows:

  1. The baby will weigh approximately 7 to 8 pounds.
  2. Increased uterine blood vessels and amniotic fluid weigh approximately 3-6 pounds.
  3. At least 10 pounds of the weight gain are fat stores that are laid down to enable a woman to breastfeed.
Women who choose not to breastfeed will have to diet to lose those ten pounds.
The 10 pounds of stored fat allow a breastfeeding woman to continue to nurse her baby, eat an extra 500 kilocalories a day, and still slowly lose weight over the first six months of breastfeeding.

3. Breastfeeding for a long time is a good thing. The following are simply 'goals,' meaning even higher numbers would be better!
The Surgeon General's Goal for Healthy People 2010 is that:
  • 75% of women breastfeed their infants at hospital discharge,
  • 50% breastfeed their infants at 6 months of age, and
  • 25% breastfeed their infants at 12 months (1 year) of age.
The 8 states of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington have achieved the three Healthy People 2010 objectives above.

4. Many women worry that if they breastfeed they'll have to take the baby with them EVERYWHERE and they'll be tied to the baby full time. In reality, many women pump their breast milk and feed the baby with a bottle (or dad or a caregiver can feed the baby breastmilk from a bottle). Also, many women feel that breastfeeding in a public place would be embarrassing for them. There are ways to breastfeeding discreetly and comfortably in public using a blanket over the breast or the baby, or they can use a bottle.


  1. Interesting! Do you have a study or reference for the LAM or comparisons of effectiveness between it and other birth control methods?

    Also, what a curious list of states. There's clearly a west-coast thing going on, then Vermont is all up in that list being awesome.

    Also, my word verification is "maters." Haha.

  2. I sure do! The LAM info is from:

    Perez A, Labbok MH, and Queenan JT. Clinical study of the lactational amenorrhoea method of family planning. Lancet. 1992: 339: 968-970.

    haha "maters" reminds me of "to-mater" in the movie Cars!

  3. love this! do your breasts just dry up if you DO get pregnant? this would make me sad. :(

  4. Nope! You can still breastfeed even if you get pregnant again. But then you will be breastfeeding two at once when the new baby comes!

  5. phew! ... not that i think about such things.... haha


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