The decision about whether or not you want to breastfeed is a difficult one. While talking to my own mother this weekend, she explained that the decision was easy for her, because she needed to take strong doses of medication after delivery that prevented her from breastfeeding. For other women, the decision is not so clear. Once you begin breastfeeding, you must stay committed to it until you are ready to wean your baby. There are many benefits to breastfeeding, including a “shot” of immunoglobins in the first few days of breast milk after pregnancy. However, there are also drawbacks, and the decision really comes down to your own person preference as a new mom. It’s extremely important that you make the decision before you deliver so that you and your baby can get into a routine right away. If you don’t you might start breastfeeding irregularly, and that can cause clogged milk ducts.

During your breastfeeding, your body will be closely listening to your cues. As soon as you stop for a few days, your milk production will begin to slow down. Even if you are trying to stop, you won’t be able to if you continue to breastfeed. To stop, you need to wean your baby off until he or she is no longer getting any milk from your breasts at all. Unfortunately, this stage can be uncomfortable at first because it will take a few days for the milk production to stop. If your breastfeeding schedule becomes irregular, you will confuse your body, and you could easily end up with painful, clogged milk ducts. By stopping even only for a few days, your milk production will slow down. When you start again, milk production will slowly increase, but the sudden change could cause a clogged duct. In addition to being painful, the clog could become serious if it is infection, and it will be an inconvenient hurdle in a regular breastfeeding schedule.

Talk with your doctor well in advance about your breastfeeding options. No matter what you decide, your body will respond quickly, so it’s important that you make a decisive, regular schedule as soon as possible after delivery. If you decide not to breastfeed altogether, your breasts will not produce milk for very long at all. If you decide to breastfeed, you’ll need to feed regularly to keep up. Either is fine, but should be regular.

Source: Jane Balkam et al: Painful Breast Lumps in Nursing Mothers. American Journal of Nursing Mothers Volume 110 Issue 12 December 2010

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