Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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The problem: Your baby nurses all the time. Because breast milk is digested more easily than formula, breastfed newborns do need to refuel more often than their formula-fed peers. "Breast milk comes prepackaged with its own digestive enzymes," explains Feldman-Winter, "so the proteins and other nutrients are more readily absorbed by the infant's intestines." This translates to an average of 10 to 12 feedings in 24 hours.
The solution: Go with the flow. Let your baby set her own meal schedule, and try not to stress about it. "We are a society devoted to efficiency," Feldman-Winter says. "Bottle-feeding may be more efficient, but if you accept that having a baby will change every single thing about your life, you might not worry so much about how often your breastfed baby wants to eat."
There is a common perception that breastfed babies are more "needy," but they are actually wired to eat exactly as much as they require, Feldman-Winter adds. That's one reason they are less likely to become obese later in life. "They learn to self-regulate, rather than drink an entire bottle when it's offered to them whether or not they're hungry," she says.
Some moms also wonder if their baby is nursing because she's hungry or for comfort, but the reason doesn't matter. "Sucking triggers milk production," Harvey explains, "so during the early months, it's important to let your baby suckle as often as she wants, regardless of the reason."
The problem: You just can't tell if she's getting enough. When a baby feeds from a bottle, it's easy to tell exactly how much she's eating. Not so with the breast.
The solution: Count wet diapers. "Once your milk comes in, usually three days after birth, your baby should have at least six to eight wet diapers a day," says Lebbing. Most breastfed babies will also have at least two yellow, seedy bowel movements every 24 hours. If you have any concerns, call your pediatrician.