Pregnancy > Breastfeeding

Beginners guide to breastfeeding your baby

You’ve decided to breastfeed your baby! Congratulations! Here’s some tips on how to go about breastfeeding for new mothers.

Breastfeeding: When the Second or Third Time Really Isn’t a Charm

As much as I understood the wonder and benefits of breastfeeding your child, I realized during my second pregnancy that I was not at all prepared to venture into that state of complete codependence again. This pregnancy was what we like to call a big “surprise”. And there were so many things that would make the free-for-all nursing experience that my son had impossible for my daughter.

The Nursing Mother’s Diet

A nursing mother produces 23 to 27 ounces of milk per day, containing 330 milligrams of calcium per quart. This requires an extra energy expenditure of at least 500 calories per day. Good nutrition is therefore just as important for you as it is for your baby.

Why Breastfeed?

With over half the women in the United States choosing to breastfeed their infants these days (as opposed to twenty-five percent in the mid sixties), it is obvious that today the majority of women are aware of the many benefits of breastfeeding.

When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work Out

There are very few medical problems that prevent a mother from breastfeeding her baby. There are some situations where nursing must be temporarily interrupted, but if you maintain your milk supply by pumping, you can almost always resume breastfeeding when the medical problem is resolved. ?Situations where breastfeeding is contraindicated include: cancer, AIDS, HTLV-1, and abuse of certain illegal drugs.

When a Nursing Mother Gets Sick

When you are sick, you and your baby will almost always benefit from continuing to breastfeed.? There are very few illnesses that require a mother to stop nursing.? Continuing to breastfeed will help protect your baby from the infection, because your body produces antibodies to the specific bug that is causing the infection, and you pass them on to the baby in your milk.? Often, a breastfed baby will be the only member of the family who doesn?t get sick. If he does get sick, he will usually have a much milder case than the older members of the family.

Weaning

Weaning your baby is part of the natural breastfeeding experience.? It doesn?t have to be a time of unhappiness for you or your baby. If done ?gradually, and with love? (the La Leche League motto), weaning can be a positive experience for both you and your little one.

Waking A Sleepy Baby

In order to stimulate an adequate milk supply, newborns need to nurse a minimum of eight times, and optimally ten to twelve times or more during a twenty-four hour period.? This usually means that your baby will nurse every two to three hours during the day, with possibly one four hour stretch at night.? Newborns often nurse almost constantly for hours each day (cluster feedings) and then may sleep deeply for several hours.? These longer sleep periods are fine as long as the baby is getting in his minimal number of feedings in twenty-four hours, and his urine and stool output and weight gain is adequate (see article on ?How To Tell If Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk?).