5 Tips for  Breastfeeding After Breast Cancer

5 Tips for Breastfeeding After Breast Cancer

Congratulations! You are a survivor and now you’re expecting. For many women, this time raises concerns. Many women who have survived breast cancer and go on to have children wonder if they can breastfeed. Breastfeeding can become challenging for a mother under the best circumstances, but breastfeeding after surviving breast cancer poses different concerns. Depending on how long after your battle with cancer and if any tissue was removed, will determine your success rate. But there is hope! 

1. Seek Needed Support

Find an IBCLC

The #1 suggestion is to get support.  Even though you may feel as if you do not need any assistance, you may want someone other than family to talk to.  Having family and friends available for support is still a good thing. But, don’t be afraid to seek professional help! Seeking help in the beginning can prevent small issues from spiraling out of control.  Here is a link to the registry for

International Board of Lactation Consultants

Certified Lactation Consultants, Breastfeeding Counselors, Peer-Educators, and La Leche League professionals offer great advice in normal situations.  IBCLCs are considered the gold standard of expertise in breastfeeding. If you are experiencing a problem outside of the norm; as you may with breastfeeding after cancer; you will be advised to see an IBCLC.   I recommend starting there.   Finding a "village" of women who have successfully breastfed after cancer can provide additional feedback. 

2. Understand Breastfeeding

During the first month of breastfeeding, be prepared for the demand exclusive feeding creates.  Contrary to the belief of many, the first few months of breast feeding are difficult for any mother.  Keep in mind that breastfeeding runs on a supply and demand function.  The more frequent that you nurse, the more milk your breasts will produce.

3. Proper Care for Your Breasts

Your breasts are tender and need to be properly cared for, especially when you are breastfeeding.  It is a good idea to apply some form of nipple cream on your nipples to ensure that they do not become painful due to cracking and peeling.  You will want to apply this cream on a daily basis. Everyone has their preference. I like

Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter

It is natural and non-toxic.  Also, self-expressing milk and

Great for soar nipples and is non-toxic

rubbing onto soar nipples helps with healing as well.  Don’t wash breast with soaps as this dries them out, and removes the natural scent of the nipples that aides a baby in breastfeeding.  

4. Staying Healthy

Many women do not realize how much breastfeeding takes a toll on your body.  Without the proper consumption of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, fatigue may occur.  To prevent this from happening, make sure that you have a plan that will nurture your body as well as your baby.

5. Your Plate

When you create your special breastfeeding diet, make sure that you incorporate all of the necessary food groups.  These essential food groups include grains, protein, meat, dairy, vegetables, and fruit.  These foods will provide your body with a substantial amount of energy and help your baby become strong. Breastfeeding women can consume up to an additional 500 calories during this time, as breastfeeding is a major calorie burner. The

USDA

has some updated recommendations for breastfeeding moms. 

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