October 13, 2008

5 Breastfeeding Tips to Avoid Problems

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by Carrie Lauth

Over 70% of American women start breastfeeding their baby in the hospital but only 16% are still nursing a year later. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least a year, and the World Health Organization recommends two years of nursing.

So what’s the problem? Many Moms know the advantages of breastfeeding to Mom and baby, but run into challenges along the way. Here are my top breastfeeding tips to help you make it to that one year mark.

Your breastfeeding relationship may be so satisfying that you decide to go longer!

[ad#ad-2] 1) Build a support network

During your pregnancy, attend ongoing breastfeeding classes or La Leche League meetings. (Ask your Doctor or Midwife for suggestions if you aren’t aware of any groups in your area.)

Find women who have or are nursing their babies and talk with them. Befriend other nursing Moms.

In our society, it’s rare to see women openly nursing their babies and that’s one of the reasons that new Moms have challenges. Breastfeeding is an art, not a science, and it helps to have women who have “been there, done that” to support you.

Keep the phone numbers of one or two of these women, and a local LLL leader, with you when you go in to the hospital to have your baby. Not all labor and delivery nurses are knowledgeable about breastfeeding and may actually discourage you. After I had my first, one of the nurses told me not to nurse my baby for more than 5 minutes or “you’ll get sore”. If I had listened, there is probably no way I would have been able to bring in a milk supply adequate enough for my son’s needs.

Make sure your husband understands why breastfeeding is so important to you. Studies show that the attitude of your baby’s Father (as well as your own Mom) are one of the most important factors in breastfeeding success. If the going gets tough, it helps if he’s on your side!

It’s also a good idea to make a list of things Dad can do with baby (other than feed her) so he doesn’t feel left out in her care.

Examples include:

* Taking baby for a walk while Mom takes a nap or bath
* Massage baby
* Giving baby a bath
* “Slinging” (wearing baby in a soft cloth carrier) baby to sleep
* Reading stories
* Changing diapers and making it a special ritual with tickles, songs, etc- you can be in charge of “input”, and him, “output” 😉

Dads have been bonding with their babies without feeding them since the beginning of time. He doesn’t need to give baby a bottle (and possibly damage the breastfeeding relationship) to bond with her!

2) Find breastfeeding friendly health care

I cannot overemphasize this! I had to “fire” my first Pediatrician because she was so ignorant of the importance of breastfeeding. If your Pediatrician is only giving lip service to “breast is best”, then he is going to recommend formula at every sign of difficulty, when formula is very rarely needed.

What IS needed is accurate information and support. Ask around at an LLL meeting or breastfeeding class for recommendations.

Also- be aware that not everyone who calls themselves a breastfeeding counselor has ever actually nursed a baby. They may not even have more knowledge than a couple of hours of instruction in breastfeeding management. Find an L.C. with the initials IBCLC after her name, or contact a La Leche League leader, who is herself a nursing Mom and is skilled in helping mothers through common breastfeeding challenges.

Developing a relationship with an LLL leader or L.C. means that you won’t hesitate to call her when you, for example, need to take medication and want to know if it is compatible with breastfeeding (quick tip: the majority of medicines are, and if they aren’t, can be given in a way so as to not disrupt breastfeeding).

3) Limit Artificial Nipples

Using artificial nipples (bottles of breastmilk or formula and pacifiers) reduces the time your baby spends at the breast. Time spent nursing at the breast tells your body how much milk to make, so using artificial nipples can reduce supply.

Some babies get nipple confusion, and some don’t, however, studies show that using artificial nipples increases the likelihood that baby will wean before one year. So, wait until breastfeeding is well established and your supply is adequate for baby’s needs before introducing artificial nipples, and even then, limit their use.

Using a supplemental bottle can be a Catch 22 because it can lessen the milk supply. Better to increase baby’s nursings or time at the breast when baby is going through a growth spurt. Your body will send more milk because of the increased demand.

As a side note, the AAP recently issued a statement saying that pacifiers can reduce SIDS risk. Interestingly, breastfeeding also reduces the risk of SIDS. To see the response of LLL to this finding, please go to: https://www.lalecheleague.org

4) Appreciate Your Baby’s Uniqueness

If you’re nursing baby when she wants to and not worrying about schedules, your baby will likely be the size she is supposed to be. Don’t be overly concerned if she isn’t nursing the same number of times per day as your friend’s baby. Babies differ in temperament. Some babies seem to want to be attached all the time. Others get down to business and don’t nurse much for comfort. Some are more dainty with their meals and like to snack, nap, snack, nap. Some babies are roly poly, others, petite.

Stop worrying so much, enjoy your baby, and offer the breast frequently. Also- don’t be obsessed over baby poop. Some babies just don’t follow the “perfect” pooping schedule that you read about. Some have a small offering with each diaper change. Others go a few days inbetween, but watch out when they do go- they typically make up in quantity what they lack in frequency! If baby is gaining well and growing, she’s fine.

5) Get Cozy About Nursing In Public

Unless you’re going to become a hermit for a year or want to pump bottles (inconvenient and has the disadvantages mentioned above), you need to be comfortable nursing in public. There is a whole article on this topic here: Breastfeeding tips- nursing in public

Despite the horror stories you see people commenting on in the news about Moms being asked to leave public places when nursing, it’s highly unlikely to ever happen to you. I’ve been breastfeeding nonstop for the last 8 years in every place imaginable, and have only ever had one person say something negative.

I have, however, gotten lots of positive feedback! Sometimes people will approach and admire your baby and never realize she’s nursing, or if they do, express their approval or share that their own babies were breastfed.

Wear nursing shirts, buy a baby sling and practice latching baby on at home in front of a mirror.

Carrie Lauth is a homeschooling Mom of 4 and a breastfeeding counselor. Come listen to her talk about natural baby care at https://www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com.

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