When I was nursing, I kept a large glass of fresh water on my bedside table to help me stay hydrated through the sleepy nighttime feedings.

Reality check

When my daughter Isabella was born, my early days of breastfeeding were a struggle. Sometimes I was frustrated; sometimes I was in pain. But I persevered, and soon Isabella and I were in a relaxed, enjoyable groove and I nursed for many months. If you’ve decided to breastfeed, you may be lucky and it will just happen. But if you’re like most first-time Moms, you can expect challenges. Here are some tips from experts and seasoned Moms to help you overcome the most common of these.

What she needs, when she needs it

In the first week or so of baby’s life, your breast milk adapts to meet her changing nutritional needs. In the first few days it is a thick, yellowish liquid called colostrum. Colostrum is lower in fat than mature milk but has more protein, plus some vitamins and immunity boosting antibodies that help protect your baby against disease and infection. After 3 or 4 days, you’ll begin expressing milky-looking transitional milk, which has less protein than colostrum but more fat and lactose (a sugar). By about day 10, you’ll be producing fully mature milk. For the most part, your diet can influence your breast milk composition. For example, the amount of DHA—a type of Omega-3 fat and an important building block of the brain—in your breast milk usually depends on how much DHA is in your diet. To increase the amount of DHA in your breast milk and to help support your baby’s rapidly developing brain, you’ll want to eat foods such as fatty fish that are rich in DHA. For more info, click here.

What to eat when you’re breastfeeding
Following Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide is a good step towards meeting your nutritional requirements. (You can download this publication from the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca. But when you’re breastfeeding, you’re burning extra energy (calories) to make breast milk—this means you may need an extra 2 or 3 Food Guide Servings each day than what is normally recommended.
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