The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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[Q] I work in a facility where there is very little privacy for me to pump my breast milk. What can I do?
[A] If you live in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota or Tennessee, your employer by law must provide you the time to pump, as well as a place to do it. If you’re not lucky enough to live in one of these states and no such facilities exist at your workplace, be creative: Use an empty office, your company’s first-aid room, a cubicle with curtains, or even a storage room; try not to use the restroom, as it’s not sanitary. If all else fails, you can pump in your car; just be sure your breast pump is battery-operated or has a power adapter for vehicles. For more information on laws about pumping, visit www.lalecheleague.org/LawMain.html.
[Q] My baby nurses from 8 p.m. to midnight every night. She’s constantly hungry; I’m exhausted. What should I do?
[A] Many babies have a three- to four-hour stretch of marathon nursing every day. It’s not necessarily that she’s hungry; she simply may be in a wakeful state when she needs to be with her mother, doing a lot of sucking. It may help to know that this phase won’t last forever; in the meantime, to help with your fatigue, consider taking her to bed with you so you can snooze while she nurses.
[Q] My 4-month-old son is exclusively breastfed. Now that the weather is getting warmer, do I need to give him water to drink?
[A] Human milk is 89 percent water, so you don’t need to give him anything but breast milk—if he’s thirsty, he will go to the breast more often. You, on the other hand, do need more water during warm weather, so drink up— a minimum of eight to 10 8-ounce glasses a day, or enough that your urine is nearly clear.
[Q] I keep having bouts of mastitis. Am I doing something wrong, or am I just one of the unlucky ones?
[A] The No. 1 reason women get mastitis (inflammation of the breast) is that they produce too much milk, so chances are that rather than doing something wrong, you’re just a good milk producer. There are other things that can contribute to mastitis, however. Pressing on your breast to create an air space for the baby can cause plugging in that area; if you’re doing this, adjust her head a bit instead so she can breathe freely. Underwire or sports bras that don’t fit correctly or that are left on while nursing can also cause plugging, as can erratic feeding schedules, which can lead to the baby not draining the breast well.
[Q] My baby often falls asleep while nursing, and I’m worried that he’s not getting enough milk. Should I let him sleep or try to rouse him to eat more?
[A] The breast is very comforting, so many babies fall asleep when nursing. If your baby is growing well and his pediatrician is pleased with his weight gain, you probably don’t need to do anything. If his weight gain seems low, though, you should try to get him to eat more. Gently rub his cheek or lower lip to rouse him; if he’s hungry, he should wake enough to nurse.