WarmRegards -Educating Moms About Breastfeeding: Part 1

Text to Improve Breastfeeding

WarmRegards June 2019 – Educating Moms About Breastfeeding: Part 1

Welcome to WARMRegards! We’ve recently restarted our popular e-newsletter aimed at helping WIC agencies discover the latest developments in technology, applications, and tips-of-the-trade. It’s our goal to support you in reaching and retaining more WIC clients.

Part 1 of our two-part series on breastfeeding focuses on how a mother’s diet affects breastfeeding and what you can do to educate new moms. Next month, look for information about the long-term benefits of breastfeeding, along with more tips for increasing breastfeeding rates in your clients.

The general opinion for many years has been that a mother’s diet has very little impact on breastfeeding. However, new studies are showing a link between what a mother puts into her body and what comes out when she breastfeeds. For starters, calorie intake is important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a breastfeeding mother needs roughly an extra 500 calories a day to ensure healthy milk production. This can be difficult, as new mothers are likely busy, stressed, and may be trying to shed excess baby weight. It’s crucial to stress to your clients that keeping their calorie count up is good for both mommy and baby.

What to Avoid or Minimize While Breastfeeding

Just like when a woman is pregnant, a breastfeeding mother should avoid large amounts of seafood due to the harmful mercury present in most fish. Mercury that’s passed from the mother to the baby can cause brain and nervous system damage. The CDC recommends limiting fish servings to 2-3 per week, and waiting to introduce fish into a child’s diet until they’re around two years old.

Breastfeeding mothers should also limit their caffeine intake. Of course, a tired new mom is going to want her daily cup of coffee, and that’s fine. The CDC simply recommends avoiding extreme amounts (more than three cups a day), as caffeine can pass from mother to baby and can cause irritability, jitteriness, and poor sleep patterns in babies. The last thing a new mom needs is a caffeinated baby who refuses to sleep!

Alcohol should also be avoided while breastfeeding. A breastfeeding mother should wait until any alcohol has completely left her system before feeding her baby, as any alcohol in the mother’s body can be passed to the baby. Pumping and dumping will not help the alcohol pass sooner — the only thing a mother can do is wait. Mayo Clinic recommends waiting two to three hours for 12 ounces of 5% beer, 5 ounces of 11% wine, or 1.5 ounces of 40% liquor, though variations for body weight may need to be taken into consideration.

What to Include While Breastfeeding

To increase milk production, breastfeeding mothers should be sure to eat diets rich in protein, along with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It can be easy for a busy mom to hit a fast-food drive-thru, but new mothers should be encouraged to stick to healthier meal options to ensure a steady supply of milk. Additionally, Mayo Clinic suggests that eating a variety of foods while breastfeeding will increase a child’s likelihood of accepting solid foods later in life.

Breastfeeding moms should drink lots of water, even if they don’t feel thirsty, and take a prenatal vitamin until their baby has been fully weaned. This will ensure steady milk production and keep mom from feeling too drained.

Reaching New Mothers Through Text Intervention

A study conducted by BioMed Central in 2014 looked at how weekly text intervention affects breastfeeding rates. Women in the study received one text message a week for eight weeks. The texts consisted of general breastfeeding information, such as how diet can impact breast milk health and production. When compared to the control group, the mothers receiving text intervention were more likely to continue exclusive breastfeeding for longer than the mothers who did not receive the texts.

What we can take away from this study, and others like it, is that a simple weekly reminder of the benefits of breastfeeding is enough to keep new moms on track. We know they can get busy and that sometimes breastfeeding can be frustrating, but when moms keep in mind all the good things breastfeeding can do for their babies, they’re more likely to continue. And moms who continue breastfeeding are more likely to remain WIC clients as their children grow.

Reaching moms through text intervention is easy, since they always have their phones on hand and are often too busy for anything more than a quick text. You can set up texts to send automatically, beginning with gestation and continuing through infancy, with texts customized for where the mother is in the birth/breastfeeding process.

While the mother is pregnant, she can receive texts that get her thinking about breastfeeding and talking with her doctor about a plan for once baby is born. After birth, the texts can focus on breastfeeding tips and benefits to keep her going as baby gets older. To take it a step further, you can even implement a secure two-way chat so breastfeeding moms can ask questions and get feedback without violating privacy laws.

Keeping mom healthy and motivated to continue with breastfeeding is a great way to ensure children are happy and healthy. Next month, in Part 2 of this series, we’ll discuss how breastfeeding benefits a child long after they’ve been weaned.

By Shela Ward

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