Breastfeeding Tips For New Mothers

It is no secret that breastfeeding provides both a mother and her baby with numerous physical and emotional health benefits.

Unfortunately, some new moms who have every intention of nursing their babies end up switching to formula within the first few weeks of their babies' lives.

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Here are some of the key findings on this topic from a study published in the December 2005 issue of Pediatrics :

* Based on data collected in 2000 and 2001, 32% of women chose not to breastfeed at all
* 4% started breastfeeding, but stopped within the first week
* 13% stopped breastfeeding within the first month
* 51% continued breastfeeding for greater than 4 weeks
* Younger women with lower than average socioeconomic status were most likely to stop breastfeeding within the first month

Reasons for stopping with breastfeeding included:

- Sore nipples
- Inadequate milk supply
- Infant having difficulties
- The perception that the infant was not getting enough milk

Based on experience of many moms, it's clear that all first time moms can benefit from learning about what to expect with breastfeeding, particularly in the first month. Knowing what to expect can provide first time moms with confidence and assurance that can lead to a healthy breastfeeding experience.

Here are some pointers about breastfeeding :

1. Breastfeeding can be hard and stressful. Most books and breastfeeding support groups tend to emphasize how wonderful breastfeeding is and how good it is for the development of a healthy bond between mom and baby. A lack of awareness of how hard and stressful breastfeeding might be at times can leave many women feeling like they are the only ones dealing with a stressful breastfeeding situation. The reality is that many mothers find it difficult.

2. Part of the stress of breastfeeding can come from having painful nipples. Lactation consultants tend to say that breastfeeding should not be painful. Many would agree, but this may not be true during the first week or so of breastfeeding.

While breastfeeding, the nipples get stretched so that they reach the back of the baby's palate - close to the throat. In the first weeks of life, the baby is constantly nursing to bring up mom's breast milk supply. Constant nursing plus the stretching that the nipples are subjected to can leave mom's nipples extremely sore. The good news is that after about a week or two, the nipples get used to the rigors of nursing and don't tend to get sore anymore.

3. If a woman continues to experience sore nipples after a week or two of breastfeeding, the cause might be an improper latch. Latch refers to the position of the baby's mouth, lips, and tongue on the breast. A Lactation consultant, or mid wife can provide guidance on how to promote a good latch while breastfeeding.

4. Another common source of stress can be the feeling that mom doesn't have enough or any milk in her breasts. When a woman's milk first comes in, it can take a while for her body to adjust to how much milk her baby needs. Until her milk supply regulates in this manner, her breasts will feel really full at times and really empty at other times.

The reality is that breasts are never fully empty because the body is constantly producing milk as long as the baby is nursing.

5. How the breasts feel is not a reliable indicator of whether a woman has enough milk or not. Neither is the amount of milk that a woman can pump out because man-made pumps are not as efficient as babies at drawing out milk.

6. Another potential source of stress is an overactive letdown. Letdown is when the baby's suckling triggers a reflex that results in milk flow. The stress that first time moms can experience with an overactive letdown is another potential feature of the breastfeeding experience that women don't tend to tell each other about. It's important to note that not all women experience an overactive letdown.

7. Some first time moms can feel stress over wanting to get the latch just right. A good approach seems to be to let the baby latch and see how it feels. If it hurts or is uncomfortable, then change it. Sometimes babies know how to latch correctly right away, but sometimes they don't. Sometimes it is a learned skill.

8. The only reliable way to tell whether a baby is getting enough milk or not is to observe his or her output (number and amount of pees and poos) and the baby's growth. And of course, high quality milk production requires mom to eat when hungry and to eat healthy foods.


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