Do dietitians help with breastfeeding? Postnatal Nutrition Coach for Nursing

The American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC recommend breastfeeding exclusively for six months, then a diet of breastfeeding and complementary foods for up to two years; however, less than 25% of women in the United States feed exclusively for those first six months. Let us be the first to say it: breastfeeding is not easy. It takes time and planning, and in a world where we’ve been used to go-go-go, new moms feel like they were shoved into a time capsule where everything has stopped. Again, it’s not easy.

Many factors play into a mother’s choice (or ability) to exclusively breastfeed for six months:

  1. Maternity leave. Maternity leave is very short in the United States (12 weeks, though many women go back to work earlier to make up for lost income). Many women who return to work don’t have access to nursing breaks or places to pump and store breast milk, making continued breastfeeding incredibly challenging. There are virtually no work policies to support breastfeeding.
  2. Lack of information about breastfeeding leads to women being less likely to breastfeed. This can include anything from the belief that formula is as good as breastmilk to embarrassment about breastfeeding in public. (Breastfeeding is undervalued in American culture).
  3. Lack of support for breastfeeding can cause women to abandon breastfeeding quickly. Support from family, their community, a lactation specialist, and a dietitian nutritionist can lead to successful nursing. Also, access to information and resources like WIC (The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) can be instrumental in allowing women to continue to breastfeed.

So, what does a lactation dietitian nutritionist do? How can a dietician help with nursing?

As registered dietitians and working moms, we understand how women struggle with breastfeeding. It’s not always easy. We are ready to work with you. 

  1. We will support you 100% in your nursing plan, whether you want to breastfeed, breastfeed and bottle feed, breastfeed and formula feed, and how to manage breastfeeding and introducing solids. 
  2. We will help you maintain adequate nutrition with meal plans and dietary interventions, depending on your unique needs (including if you have dietary restrictions, are vegan or vegetarian, or are taking medications).
  3. We will make a rigorous assessment of your nutrient and caloric needs, and develop a meal plan that adheres to those needs — empowering you to make the right nutrition choices for your and your baby’s health.
  4. We will develop a nutrient-rich, varied breastfeeding diet for a baby with allergies (the most common allergies are dairy, nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat, and eggs). 
  5. We will develop a customized plan to continue feeding and/or pumping when you return to work.

It’s important to know that not all women are the same, and plans can change. We want to make this time in your life as stress-free and nourishing as possible – for both you and your baby. A final perk of breastfeeding is that not only is lactation good for the baby, but it also helps with postnatal healing. Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its regular size as well as reduces postpartum bleeding.

Motherhood is a period of very long days, very short years. We’re here to help get you through those days.


January 2019 Issue

Infant Nutrition: Breast Milk Benefits
By Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 21, No. 1, P. 18