If you’re breastfeeding and your baby seems to stay glued to your breastーーyou may be worried that what you’re doing to take care of yourself may also be affecting her growth and development. We gathered the biggest scratchers and got information on whether they can affect supply, milk quality or safety.
Myth: You should stop using antiperspirants.
Fact: You may have heard that aluminum, the antiperspirant ingredient in antiperspirants, is toxic to your breast tissue and breast milk. While you can choose an aluminum-free deodorant, this precaution is not necessary. “There is no evidence that nursing moms should not use antiperspirants,” says Aimee Abu-Shamsieh, M.D., M.P.H., clinical associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Fresno. “Aluminum is usually found in the natural environment, so most of your exposure comes from food, not skin products, and there’s little to no exposure to breast milk.”
However, you may want to consider switching to the unscented kind, as newborns can be bothered by odors and using heavily scented products (including deodorant or body wash) on or near the nipples can cause a mess. This can be a particular problem with spray deodorants, as it can drift onto your nipples and also cause them to have an unpleasant smell.
Myth: You shouldn’t take any painkillers.
Truth: There is no need to suffer. According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, painkillers and fever reducers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen are usually OK for breastfeeding moms, although each drug has its benefits and risks. But there are some online travel agents that are best avoided. Decongestants, for example, can reduce milk production, and antihistamines can make you drowsy and debilitate you.
For any medications you take, it’s best to consult your doctor first. You can also use the handy government-developed app Breastfeeding Medical Quick Facts. Even if taking medications while breastfeeding is considered safe, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Hari Cheryl Sachs, M.D., author of the American Academy of Pediatrics report, says: “Use the lowest effective dose of medication for the shortest period of time possible.” .
Myth: You shouldn’t drink coffee.
Truth: After a rough night (four wake-ups? !) Dr. Abu-Shamsieh notes: “Studies show that your baby is consuming a fraction of the amount of caffeine you drink.” . However, stick to one to three servings of caffeine a day. At high doses (five cups of six ounces or more), caffeine in breast milk can build up in your baby’s body, which can make her restless.
Myth: You should cut back on calories to reduce your baby’s weight.
Truth: Breastfeeding burns an extra 500 calories a day, which Dr. Abu-Shamsieh says is enough to help many women get back to their pre-pregnancy weight. Even if you’re in a hurry to lose weight, make sure you’re eating at least 1,800 calories a day and a nutritionally balanced meal (lots of healthy fats like avocados and nuts, plus fruits, vegetables, beans and lean meats). It’s best to wait to diet until two months after delivery, when your milk supply is established and your body has recovered from childbirth. Dr. Abu Shamsiyah says the best way to know if you are consuming the right amount is to listen to your body and eat according to your hunger level.
Myth: You can drink as long as you squeeze and pour.
The truth is: You may not want to quit drinking, but small amounts of alcohol do make their way into breast milk. This can change the taste of milk and familiarize your baby with the taste of alcohol, says Dr. Julie Mennella, a developmental biopsychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, who adds that alcohol intake can also reduce milk production. Worse, alcohol is a neurotoxin that affects infant brain development, says Laura Riley, M.D., a parent consultant and chief of obstetrics at Massachusetts General Hospital. That’s why she advises her patients not to drink while breastfeeding. The idea that ‘if you can drive, you can breastfeed’ is crazy, she says: “The data on safety is not clear, and everyone metabolizes alcohol differently. There’s no way to know how much your baby will get.” Pumping and dumping isn’t a foolproof solution, either. A small glass of champagne on your birthday is fine, just don’t turn happy hour into a nightly affair.