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Nursing may be natural, but it can prove difficult for some women. These strategies will help.
1. Don't Delay
Breastfeeding seems to go more smoothly for women who nurse within an hour of delivery. Don’t be afraid to request help—most hospitals have lactation consultants on staff. [For tips see: First 48 Hours After The Birth].
2. Nurse on Demand
During the first six weeks, it’s essential to let your baby nurse whenever he wants. Trying to establish a feeding schedule too early can backfire by interfering with your milk supply. Don’t worry about having enough milk—the more your baby eats, the more you’ll produce.
3. Learn to Latch
Your baby needs to have a deep latch in order to get enough milk and to prevent your nipples from becoming damaged and sore. Before you put him to your breast, position him on his side so that his belly is right up against yours. Then tickle his mouth with your nipple to encourage him to open wide; make sure he takes the entire nipple and a good portion of your areola in his mouth.
Visit fitpregnancy.com/latchvideo for step-by-step instructions and accompanying photos.
4. Create a “Nursing Nest”
Though not essential, a glider, rocker or cushy chair with an ottoman or footstool are helpful. Wherever you nurse, have plenty of pillows (for back support and to help position the baby properly at your breast), water, snacks, a good book and the TV remote.
5. Feed Your Milk Supply
Drink at least eight glasses of liquids a day. Depending on your age, metabolism and activity level, your calorie needs will likely be 2,200 to 2,400 daily. The good news: Breastfeeding moms tend to lose 1 to 4 pounds a month even with the added calories.
6. Formula Facts
Some women cannot breastfeed; others need to supplement with formula occasionally. Commercial formulas are largely the same The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates formulas to ensure they’re safe and contain the most important nutrients. Ask your pediatrician if she recommends a formula with added iron, DHA or other nutrients. Your choice of powder, liquid or concentrate primarily boils down to issues of cost and convenience.
These include dairy, soy and hypoallergenic formulas. Fear of an allergic reaction makes some parents reluctant to give their babies milk-based formula brands, but only 3 percent to 4 percent of infants have a true milk allergy.
Surprisingly, soy formula may not be a good alternative for babies with a milk allergy because those babies may also have an intolerance to soy protein. However, soy-based formula is a good choice for parents who don’t want their babies to eat animal products. Hypoallergenic formulas break down milk proteins so that they’re more easily digested.
✱ Heat formula in a pan of warm water or a bottle warmer; microwaving can create dangerous hot spots.
✱ Use room-temperature formula within two to four hours; after that, you should discard it.
✱ Use refrigerated formula within 48 hours.
✱ Don’t freeze formula, which robs it of nutritional value.
✱ Don’t save any formula your baby leaves behind in the bottle. Bacteria from her saliva can contaminate it.