August was declared World Breastfeeding Month more than 30 years ago, and since then, several international organizations join forces every year to promote all the advantages of breastfeeding for both newborns and their mothers.
And on that note, the benefits of breastfeeding are remarkable! Did you know that increasing breastfeeding could prevent more than 800 thousand annual deaths in children under 5 years old, and around 20 thousand annual deaths from breast cancer? Not only that, but optimal breastfeeding could lead to a substantial reduction in global healthcare costs, estimated at 300 billion US dollars.
Research has shown that breastfeeding rates are at their lowest in upper- and middle-income countries. One explanation could be that, more often than not, working women face inadequate support to continue breastfeeding after their maternity leave ends. In fact, globally, only 40% of women with newborns receive basic maternity benefits from their workplace.
That said, while we recognize the importance of advocating for better support for working women, we would also like to address a specific concern for all women who have become pregnant via IVF: Is a woman’s ability to breastfeed affected in any way, because of IVF? The short answer is NO! But if you’re still worried that you might encounter some challenges, we’ve prepared a list of tips for the occasion.
For starters, remember that your journey to this moment was nothing short of miraculous. But in order to fully experience the joy of giving birth, you must find serenity, and that means forgetting about the challenges you’ve faced in the past and living in the present moment. The natural response of your body after giving birth is to release the hormone oxytocin, which, as a matter of fact, helps your body produce milk, but if you’re stressed, this “happy” hormone is not released.
All IVF patients are quite familiar with the importance of folic-acid supplements during pregnancy, but did you know that they are just as essential after giving birth? For this reason, it might be a good idea to incorporate a quality multivitamin into your daily postpartum care, but make sure to discuss this step with your doctor first.
Another tip that we have is for you to embrace the breast pump: your IVF journey proved that, sometimes, a helping hand can make all the difference. If you’re experiencing challenges with milk production, there’s absolutely no shame in exploring how manual and automatic breast pumps work, as these devices can help you yield more milk for your baby. Also, don’t be discouraged if one breast seems more responsive than the other, but rather remember that both need stimulation for lactation. And as a last note, don’t forget that every drop counts, meaning that any amount of breast milk you produce is extremely valuable for your baby.
Last but not least, nourishing your body with a healthy diet must also be among your priorities. As a new mother, you’ll experience many sleepless nights, but don’t let that compromise your nutrition. Make sure to eat nutritious, balanced meals, as they not only influence the quality of your breast milk, but they will only provide you with the energy to handle all the diaper-changing marathons. Your well-being is crucial for your baby’s development, so ditch the junk food and stay hydrated always. And don’t wait until you feel hungry in order to eat: by breastfeeding, you burn an additional 600-700 kcal a day, so you still should “eat for two”.
At UNICA, we are committed to providing the best care and support for our patients on their fertility journeys. Whether you are considering undergoing fertility treatment or have recently found out that you’re pregnant after one, we hope this article was helpful and informative for you. If you have any further questions or need guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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