Below is information that applies to breastfeeding for special situations.
• If your baby is premature — You’ll be happy to know that breastmilk is the best way to nourish your premature baby. Your milk helps your premature baby’s vision and IQ later in childhood, is better for infant metabolism and is easier to digest, protects her against necrotizing enterocolitis (a serious bowel disease that affects premature babies), and protects her better against infection than formula. Premature babies need extra amounts of certain nutrients to grow quickly. Through the perfect workings of “mother” nature, your breastmilk contains these extra nutrients for about the first month after your baby’s birth. So, if your preemie is too young or too sick to nurse at your breast, you can pump your milk and feed her through a tube to make sure she gets this extra nutritious milk. You will need the help of your doctor and other hospital staff. Don’t be persuaded that it’s too much trouble. The mental and physical benefits to you and your baby are worth it.
• If you have a cesarean delivery — If you are scheduled to deliver your baby by cesarean section, you should do three things: (1) talk to your doctor about the right kind of pain medicine following birth that will make you the most comfortable yet alert, (2) get a lactation consultant to show you how to position your baby so she is not weighing on your incision and how to get her to latch-on correctly, and (3) make sure that your spouse, mother, or a friend is watching so they can help you at home. If your breastfeeding routine is a little delayed because of your anesthesia and recovery time or because you can’t breastfeed as often early on, you and your baby will catch up. Be patient, take care of yourself, and don’t give up.
• If you have multiple births — One thing you don’t have to worry about if you have twins, or even triplets, is your milk supply. Your body will make enough milk. Next, a lactation consultant will be a big help to you while you’re in the hospital. She can explain all of the positions that work best to nurse two babies at once or one at a time, and how to get two babies with different personalities and habits to latch-on and nurse well. Continue to rely on the lactation consultant if you have any problems or if you just need advise after you go home. The last thing to remember is that multiple babies will require you to be nursing or resting most of the day just to keep up your energy and meet your babies’ demands for food for quite a while. You should arrange for help to take care of all other household chores and errands. With multiple births, this is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.
• If you are sick — There very few health problems that should keep you from breastfeeding your baby. Minor illnesses, such as the flu, a cold, or diarrhea should not present any problem for your baby. The immunities in your milk may protect her from getting sick at all, or she may get a mild case of what you have. Stopping breastfeeding when you have a minor illness is more harmful for your baby. If you have a serious illness, such as diabetes, herpes, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis or something else, you may still be able to breastfeed your baby successfully. In fact, breastfeeding sometimes helps lessen symptoms of some chronic diseases.
You may need to do some research and talk to a doctor, a lactation consultant, a pharmacologist, or other specialists to get the answers you need regarding breastfeeding and your condition. But if you’re determined, you may be able to breastfeed your baby despite serious health problems.
More about Breastfeeding for Beginners
• Overview of Breastfeeding
• When to Feed Your Baby
• How to Feed Your Baby
• Breast Care While Breastfeeding
• Breast and Nipple Problems While Breastfeeding
• Expressing and Storing Breast Milk
• Keeping up the Milk Supply
• Nutrition While Breastfeeding
• Breastfeeding in Special Situations
• Returning to Work While Breastfeeding
• Resources for Support While Breastfeeding