Whether you’ve already had your baby or are still pregnant, successful breastfeeding requires preparation and knowledge. Lactation consultants Corky Harvey and Wendy Haldeman answer questions to help you get it right.
[Q] My sister-in-law put her newborn on a nursing schedule, rather than breastfeeding on demand. It seemed like a bad idea to me at the time, but her baby seems to have taken to the schedule, and now her life seems so much less chaotic than mine. I'm thinking of trying it with my second baby. Is it a good idea?
[A] This type of scheduling can work as long as you have a plentiful milk supply and a baby who does fine with scheduling. But if you have any issues with your baby not gaining weight properly, or if you have a high-need baby, then scheduling is not for you.
If you do opt for scheduling, wait until the baby is at least 2 to 3 weeks old and is gaining adequate weight. Be prepared, though: You'll need to do frequent weight checks with your pediatrician to ensure that the baby continues to gain adequately. If his weight begins to drop at all, you'll need to start feeding on demand.
Above all, remember that babies need to be held a lot--it's an essential part of their growth and development. Research is also clear that newborn breastfed babies need to feed eight to 12 times in 24 hours depending on your milk supply--if your baby needs 12 feedings and doesn't get them, he may lose weight. (Some women have so much milk that they can nurse eight times a day and the baby will gain weight sufficiently; others need to nurse 12 times a day to ensure adequate gain.)
The bottom line: Scheduling works for some babies but not others. If you want to try it, stay flexible, keep a close eye on your baby's weight and level of contentment, hold him often, and give him lots of love and attention. And if you decide not to try scheduling, don't give it a second thought.
[Q] My husband and I are going to a wedding in a few weeks, and I'd like to have a cocktail or two. How long do I need to wait after drinking before nursing my baby?
[A] Many factors affect how your body metabolizes alcohol--including the type and amount of alcohol you drink, the time between drinks, your body weight and how much food, if any, you eat while drinking. As such, it's hard to be definitive about exactly how long you need to wait before nursing your baby.
That said, in general, alcohol is metabolized at the rate of about 1 ounce per hour, so if you have one drink, you should be able to nurse your baby about one hour later. If you have two drinks in an hour, you'll probably need to wait at least two hours. But a better guideline is this: As long as you are feeling any effects from the alcohol, even if you are just a bit tipsy or giddy, don't put your baby to the breast. Instead, "pump and dump" your milk until you're not feeling any effects. And never put your baby in bed with you if you've been drinking.