Feeling frenzied all the time can take a toll on your fertility. Here’s how you can chillax and boost your odds of baby-making success.
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As convenient as it would be to plan out a day's worth of feedings, a newborn doesn't wear a watch. She doesn't care if it's been 15 minutes or four hours since her last meal; when her tiny tummy begins to rumble, she wants to eat. And you need to let her—if you don't, you put her at risk for poor weight gain, and you risk seeing your own milk production decline.
All babies are different. Some are long, luxurious nursers who can go for hours between meals; others suck fast and furiously and want a snack every 45 minutes. Just because yours wants to nurse virtually around the clock doesn't mean that she's starving. Still, if you're concerned that your baby's not getting enough milk, check her output.
"You can judge how well your baby is eating by counting diapers," Haldeman says. With a newborn, you want to see at least three yellow, seedy stools and six to eight wet diapers in 24 hours. Initial weight loss is to be expected, but your baby should have returned to her birth weight within two weeks post-delivery. After that, she should gain between 1/2 and 1 ounce a day until about 4 months of age. If not, or if you suspect that she's not getting enough milk, see your pediatrician.
In a perfect world, new mothers wouldn't be allowed to go back to work for at least a year after giving birth. These extraordinary people-making creatures would lounge about contentedly, tickling tiny toes and supplying milk on demand while volunteers graciously assumed their unpaid chores and responsibilities. (All mothers would also be forced to endure daily foot massages and drink magical thigh-toning milkshakes, but I digress.) In reality, where modern-day moms balance more responsibilities than the busiest CEO, it can be hard to muster the energy and enthusiasm to feed your baby breast milk exclusively.
Yes, breastfeeding is best—but it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. If the pressure to pump is making you constantly anxious, or perpetual sleep deprivation is rendering you useless at home or at work, supplementing your baby's diet with formula is not the end of the world, especially after six weeks, when the risk of "nipple confusion" diminishes. Remember, what your baby drinks is only part of her overall health picture; genetics and environment also play a role.
While Haldeman admits that her goal is to help moms breastfeed successfully and exclusively, she's also realistic. "I try to be sympathetic to women's situations," she says. "Some breast milk is always better than none."