Breastfeeding is the way nature intended to feed your newborn until he/she is able to obtain all the necessary nutrients by him/herself. This means that breastfeeding and giving your breastmilk is the main food for your baby during the first year. Replacing nursing sessions by other foods and drinks should occur on demand, in most cases this process is slow and may take up to a couple of years to be completed. Research showed that the natural age to wean from the breast is somewhere between 2 and seven years.
Although the rates in the United States for extended nursing are low, more and more women discover the advantages of child led weaning. Hopefully, this will stimulate more women to consider this process, since seeing women nurse their older babies may help to make this decision easier. You know that you are not alone. But let’s not forget that some readers first want to get the start right.
How to prepare for breastfeeding.
A lot of mothers-to-be wonder how they could best prepare for breastfeeding during pregnancy. They want to know if they have to physically do something to prepare their breasts or nipples for their future task. The reality is, that your body is already preparing for breastfeeding during the pregnancy. Most women will notice that in the beginning of their pregnancy, their breasts feel tender. Later they will notice that their breasts get larger, the areolas are getting darker and the veins under the skin will become more visible. The tiny bumps at the areola, Montgomery glands, get more active and start producing an oily like substance that helps to keep the skin soft. Towards the end of the pregnancy, the breasts may start produce colostrum: a yellow, sticky fluid that after the baby’s birth provides the first small feedings that fit the baby's tiny stomach.
More than physically preparing to breastfeed, a mother can mentally prepare herself by reading books, going to La Leche League meetings and asking nursing mothers for their experiences. It is also possible to attend breastfeeding classes in hospitals or at a lactation consultants’ office. Sometimes, mothers with special questions or needs like to prepare themselves by making an appointment with a lactation consultant who can provide breastfeeding services tailored to the mothers' needs. Another possibility is to communicate with other nursing mothers at a breastfeeding forum.
Commonly asked questions by mothers who are pregnant.
I have flat nipples. Will I be able to breastfeed?
In most cases: yes. It may be more difficult for your baby to learn how to latch on the first time, but with help of a knowledgeable person, you and your baby can overcome this problem.
And how about inverted nipples?
Also with inverted nipples, breastfeeding should be possible. It may help to contact a lactation consultant to have your nipples checked and to develop a plan for help for the first days after birth.
I take medications. Is it safe to breastfeed my baby?
Your physician and your lactation consultant can develop a plan in most cases that will enable you to nurse while taking medications. There appear to be only a few conditions and medications that are not compatible with breastfeeding.
I have to return to work. Will breastfeeding be possible for me?
Many mothers pump their milk while working. The section Pumping your milk will describe more about pumping while separated from your baby and/or choosing the proper breastpump.
I had breast surgery (augmentation or reduction). Will I be able to nurse my baby?
That may depend on the type of surgery, the location of the incision and the degree of damage to nerve tissues, milk ducts and blood supply. It is best to work together with a lactation consultant during the first weeks who can support you in meeting your goals.
More questions? Please visit the forum or call Nanny at 949-8563058.
Most term babies who are born healthy are alert during the first hour or so after birth. This may be a perfect time to try to latch on the baby, preferably before the baby gets immunized, eye drops and weighed. By nursing first a low blood glucose level may be prevented.
The breasts are best stimulated if the baby is fed about every 1.5 to 2 hours, preferably at both breasts. The first days, the breasts produce small amounts of colostrum, the first milk. This amount fits perfectly in the newborns small stomach. To meet the baby’s needs, frequent feedings are best. Babies are ready to nurse when they root for the breast, put their hand in their mouth or get restless. Crying is a late sign of hunger and should be avoided by responding to the early feeding cues.
After a couple of days, you will notice a change in amount, color and taste of the milk and also baby’s diapers will change. As the so called transitional milk comes in, the baby start to get the typical lighter and sweet smelling breastfeeding stools. At this point, you will be able to see and hear the baby swallow milk (although sometimes this is hard to hear).
You know that your baby is eating enough if he has about four to six heavy disposable diapers per day with several stools per day after one week. If you use cloth diapers, six to eight really wet diapers show that he is getting enough.
One of the first thing visitors want to know from a new mom, is how the baby is sleeping. It almost seems that you are only a good mother or a good parent if your baby sleeps through the night. The truth is, that baby’s are made in a way that they need to wake up at night to get their food. During the first weeks, nighttime nursing is part of a normal, healthy baby’s pattern. Some baby’s will gradually develop a pattern with less feedings at night, but some baby’s need to see, feel, smell or taste their mother at night. Try not to focus on a loss of sleep, but instead turn around your alarm clock so you won’t see what time it is, how long you spend feeding the baby and try to catch some sleep in the morning while daddy takes care of the baby. Also, an afternoon nap helps most mothers to re-energize and make it to the end of the day.
If you keep the baby in your room (or even in your bed if you know how to practice safe co-sleeping), you will be better able to tune in to your baby’s needs, which will reduce the amount of crying.
The use of a pacifier or an artificial nipple should be avoided during the time that breastfeeding is establishing. For most babies this will be about four to six weeks. For a baby who started with problems while nursing, it may take longer.
The reason why pacifier use is discouraged by breastfeeding experts, is that the feel of something else in that baby’s mouth than a human nipple, may confuse the baby and may alter the baby’s suck at the breast. This is even true for a finger. Also, if a baby spends time sucking at a pacifier, a baby may reduce the time he is sucking at the breast and may reduce his milk intake. Research showed that babies who use a pacifier tend to stop nursing sooner.
In rare cases, a pacifier may be useful, for instance for pre-term babies in a NICU.
If you need to feed your baby other than at the breast, consult a lactation consultant what alternative feeding method will be best for you and your baby.
Sometimes a baby needs to stay longer in a hospital than the mother, or a baby has difficulties feeding at the breast. In those cases, a mother best starts to pump her milk several times a day. Preferably, she pumps as often as her baby would have nursed: about every two hours. This may seem a lot, but pumping this often the first days will secure the milk production later on. It is easier to slow down on pumping after a few weeks, than to gear up. Pumping to establish your milk supply works best with a fully automatic, double sided pump. Rental pumps are perceived to perform better than the personal, automatic double sided pumps. Even if you have a personal pump, you may want to consider renting a pump since pumping full time with a rental pump safes wear and tear on your own pump. Personal pumps are typically designed for a few pump sessions per day (for instance when you return to work).
Small battery operated pumps or single pumps with a small motor part are good for occasional pumping. The motor part will wear out after a couple of moths of regular pumping. Some brands sell separate motor parts so you don’t have to replace the whole pump.
Manually operated pumps work fine for most mothers who only need to pump occasionally. Although some mothers have a really good milk ejection reflex with such a pump, the repeated movement from her hand or arm may lead to RSI if she needs to pump more often.
When you look for a pump to buy, be sure you know what you need. Second hand pumps are generally not a good idea, because most pumps can get milk in their motor part that can not be cleaned. Another good thing to look for is a warranty that says you can get your money back when you are not satisfied with your pump. If you buy a pump from a lactation consultant, you will be assured that you get proper instructions about pump use and she will advise you on the right pump for you.
Read our tips about breastfeeding during the holidays! More breastfeeding links and links to related topics:
Click on this link
La Leche League
When to contact a lactation consultant
The use of breastpumps
Breastpump rentals and sales in Orange County
Hypoglycemia in the newborn baby
Breastfeeding and dental health
Post partum depression
Breastfeeding and medications
Nursing bras NEW!
Breastfeeding during the holidays and special events
Breastfeeding and related events in Orange County
Who is Ecoparents?
Breastfeeding consultations and products in Orange County
Links to Ecoparents pages
Nederlandse Borstvoedingspagina's (Dutch)
Updated May 10, 2012, Nanny Gortzak
More breastfeeding links and links to related topics: