Knock Down the Hurdles to Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is one of the greatest health advantages you can give your infant.
A breastfed baby may be less prone to ear infections and diarrhea. The child may also face less risk of developing diabetes, obesity, and asthma, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says. The AAP also recommends breastfeeding because of to its association with the reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Ideally, you should breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, with a goal of continuing breast milk for at least the first year. But you may face obstacles.
Both mom and baby must learn how to breastfeed in the first few days. This is the time when antibody-rich and easily digestible colostrum is produced. Some mothers worry that colostrum isn't enough to nourish their baby, but it's the perfect food for newborns. Breast milk comes in for most mothers from two to five days after birth.
Moms who want to keep breastfeeding when they go back to work may face barriers such as a supervisor's lack of support or rigid work hours.
Knowing the hurdles helps you find ways around them. Here are some tips:
Let your labor nurse know that you would like to have your new baby placed naked against your bare skin right after delivery. This skin-to-skin interaction calms your infant and helps in the transition to the new environment.
Tell the hospital you want only breast milk for your newborn. If someone recommends formula, discuss this with your pediatrician prior to feeding it to your baby. Sometimes, you can use your own milk to supplement rather than formula. Keep your baby in your room during your hospital stay. This will allow you to learn the signs that your baby is hungry and would like to nurse.
Don't worry if you don't have a lot of milk in the first 72 hours after the birth. You are making everything that your baby needs. The newborn stomach is very small and does not need much colostrum to fill it up.
If your baby isn't latching on properly your nipples can get sore. Have an expert watch you feed your baby and offer suggestions.
Talk with your superiors and colleagues to arrange for breastfeeding or pumping at work. If you let coworkers know how important breastfeeding is to your baby, they're more likely to help you.
You may experience minor pain from a plugged milk duct. Drinking lots of liquid and encouraging your baby to breastfeed frequently may resolve the problem. But if you're achy or feverish, see a doctor. You may have an infection that requires medication.
Get information from sound sources. These include your pediatrician, the AAP, or a certified lactation consultant.
Take care of yourself. Continue taking your multivitamin, stay hydrated (drink a 10 oz. glass of water or noncaffeine fluid every time you breastfeed to keep up your milk supply), and try to eat healthy. Remember that nursing your baby is a time to relax and enjoy the bond of motherhood.
Be realistic about the hurdles of breastfeeding so you don't give up. If you have questions or concerns, consult your health care providers before you discontinue nursing.
- Berry, Judith, PhD, APRN
- newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician