KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Statistics from the CDC show more than 80 percent of all babies born in the United States begin life being breastfed.
That means there are millions of moms who are going through the multitude of bodily changes that can happen when they’re breastfeeding, just when they thought the hard part was over.
But actually, they’re in a period called the “4th trimester.” The often overlooked time after the baby is born when mom is often on her own but she still needs care and support.
FOX4 spoke with an OBGYN and a patient from AdventHealth who say, while rewarding, breastfeeding moms can experience some unexpected challenges.
Keeley Pyle knew all along that she wanted to breastfeed her children.
But the first time around, she had numerous issues. There were plenty of checkups for her baby, but not a lot of people checking on her.
“No one thinks about the mom in that situation, and I just remember being scared and having a lot of anxiety,” Pyle said.
Dr. Amanda Healy explains what happens to a woman’s body when she breastfeeds.
“Estrogen level can stay low for awhile, and that can affect some people’s mood the entire time they’re breastfeeding,” Dr. Healy said.
And with low estrogen levels come bodily changes: hot flashes, night sweats, hair loss, joint pain, fatigue, extreme thirst and hunger, and skin dryness.
“When I would you know shave my armpits, I would actually have skin peeling off in the razor because my skin was so dry,” Pyle said.
Add into that the potential for clogged ducts, mastitis, and other common breastfeeding complications more directly related to feeding your baby.
The effects can last for a long time — even after breastfeeding.
“I would say about a full year after being done breastfeeding, is when I kind of felt like, ‘Oh I’m back to me.’ Not fatigued, not falling asleep when I have a moment,” Dr. Healy said.
When she was pregnant with her second child, Pyle knew she wanted to breastfeed, regardless of how difficult it was the first time around, and she says she’ll do it again if she has more children.
But she feels more support at home could help her and others instead of the support ending at the hospital.
“I do feel like having a nurse maybe come visit me at home would be something that I could benefit from,” she said.
And this is not to encourage you to feed your baby one way or the other — it’s simply to start the conversation and let new moms know that there can be challenges when feeding your baby. They’re normal, and there is help. You don’t have to go-it alone in the “4th trimester”.
Check with the hospital where you deliver- many offer information for breastfeeding support groups or help from a lactation consultant.
There’s also a breastfeeding warm line at (913) 632-4330.