The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breast feeding during the first six months and nursing for at least a year. Breast milk not only contains all of your baby’s nutritional needs but is more easily digested than formula. It also contains valuable proteins (or antibodies) to protect against infections. Your baby still has on average fewer colds, ear infections, allergies, less diarrhea, spitting up and constipation than formula fed babies. Breast fed babies are less colicky. In addition, breast feeding is convenient and free! There are no bottles to wash and it is always the right temperature. Contrary to popular belief, Dads play a necessary and important role in the breastfeeding team.
Nursing mothers receive both emotional and physical benefits. Their uteruses return to normal more quickly, and there is a decreased risk of uterine and ovarian cancers.
In theory, breastfeeding should be easy, natural and trouble-free. However, for many first time Moms, it is difficult, scary and painful. Don’t be discouraged if you have problems initially. We encourage you to seek help from the nurses in the hospitals, from our nurses, and from us. In addition, there are several lactation consultants in the area and a support group called La Leche League
. And most importantly, Dads are an enormous help and support!
For the first few days, you probably notice that you and your baby are pretty tired. Even a “normal delivery is strenuous and exhausting. Your baby will likely fall asleep while nursing or maybe too sleepy to nurse. Dads, you can help waking the baby, and keep him/her awake while nursing. Initially, we suggest that you attempt to nurse the baby at least 10 times/day. Offer both breasts at each feeding. This will help to stimulate your milk production. Breastfeeding follows the law of supply and demand. It is more important to nurse frequently for shorter periods of time (e.g. 10-15 minutes/breast) than less frequently for longer periods of time. Frequent nursing is also less painful on your nipples.
Don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re doing nothing but nursing during these first few weeks. You probably are. As breast milk is more easily digested than formula, your baby will be hungry again sooner. Babies go through growth spurts during the first 2 months, where they may nurse more frequently than every 2-3 hours. Don’t worry, your baby will eventually be on a more reasonable “schedule”. The time spent now will be time saved at the pediatrician’s and allergist’s office later on. Remember, the breast fed baby spends less time at the Doctor’s office.
The following are a few pointers and important “rules”:
Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. We recommend having a glass within reach to you, each time you nurse.
Take your prenatal vitamins and eat a well balanced diet. There is no reason to eliminate favorite foods such as spicy foods and pizza. However, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
If you are taking any medications regularly, please discuss them with us.
Your baby should have at least 5-6 urine diapers/day.
Your baby’s stool should be initially black and tarry (called meconium), then green and usually yellow-brown, seedy, non-formed stool. If your baby has not progressed from a meconium stool, please call us.
If you have any questions, please call us.