The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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When my daughter Willa was an infant, she loved to nurse. Every hour on the hour. And never more than a nip at a time. She also hated to nurse in public, preferring a quiet room alone with me.
My son wasn’t even 3 months old when people began quizzing me about how long I planned to breastfeed. I quickly realized that these weren’t casual inquiries, and there was no correct answer.
Some people couldn’t believe I still was nursing, acting as if my son were 16 and not weaned. Others seemed to question my adequacy as a mother when I wavered briefly in my commitment to breastfeed for at least a year.
By the time Kathi Sweet finished her childbirth preparation class, she knew she would breastfeed her baby. Among other factors leading to this decision was the fact that her instructor was a breastfeeding advocate. “She stressed the health benefits for the baby, and the ease and convenience for me,” says Sweet, now a mother of two boys in Los Angeles. “Her attitude was that everyone can do it, that it’s natural ... women are made to nurse their children.”
Experts now urge women to nurse their babies for at least one year, because breastfed infants are healthiest. But between sore nipples, engorged breasts and relatives who ask, “Are you still nursing?” it’s not always so easy. Here, one of the country’s best-known lactation consultants, Kathleen Huggins, R.N., M.S., offers reassurance and advice. Huggins is the author of The Nursing Mother’s Companion (The Harvard Common Press, 1995).
How do I get my baby to latch on so that nursing doesn’t hurt my nipples?
If you could spend your entire breastfeeding experience in an ergonomically correct rocking chair, wearing a spotless, flowing gown and staring adoringly at your placid little cherub in a soft-focus haze, you wouldn’t need this article. But just in case you’ll have to alternate those golden moments with such pesky intrusions as shopping, eating out, exercising or even working during the months to come, here’s the lowdown on several of breastfeeding’s more nettlesome issues.
Recently I saw a magazine article illustrating the basics of breastfeeding. It was titled “Breastfeeding Bliss.” I laughed out loud. As the first-time mother of an active 12-week-old boy, bliss wasn’t the first word that came to mind when I thought about my own early efforts to breastfeed.
Is my baby getting enough milk? Why does he nurse every hour? Why do my nipples hurt? Can I do this?
Got questions about breastfeeding? Every nursing mom does. One way to ensure that your experience is positive and successful is to get plenty of help and have your questions answered. Here’s how to find the support you need.
You may have heard that nursing is the most natural maternal activity there is, but unless you’ve done it before, you need to learn some basic techniques to get it right. This guide will help you get started.
You’ve read breastfeeding books, visited chat rooms, taken classes and made the (very smart) decision to nurse your new baby. You’re ready, right? Mentally, yes, but once your baby makes his entrance, you’re faced with the prospect of actually doing it—maneuvering his tiny, floppy head onto your swollen breast and coaxing him not only to latch on, but to draw enough of that liquid gold into his body to sustain himself for the next hour, the next day, the next six months. We’re here to help, with expert tips to get you through those first hours in the hospital and first days at home.
Do breastfeeding campaigns stigmatize bottle-feeding moms?
Mother Nature provides built-in stress relief for moms: breastfeeding. Scientists at Douglas Hospital Research Centre in Montreal showed videos of stressful scenarios to nursing and bottle-feeding moms. After watching the videos, the nursing mothers produced lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva. “We know breastfeeding is good for babies; now there’s evidence it’s good for mothers, too,” says lead researcher Claire-Dominique Walker, Ph.D. “It can reduce stress and anxiety, benefiting their physiology along with their ability to care for their child.” — AMY ALLISON
Continuing to nurse likely is safe for you, your son and your baby in utero. A few caveats: Since breastfeeding burns calories and requires more fluids, you must eat and drink enough to stay well-hydrated and nourished and gain adequate weight. Also, breast stimulation in the last six weeks of pregnancy can lead to uterine contractions, so if there are concerns about preterm labor, your obstetrician may want you to stop nursing.
Yes, it is. Your daughter is eating perfect food, one that has been custom-made just for her. As her intestines mature and she is able to digest your breast milk more completely, the amount of waste your baby produces is naturally decreasing--which means she now can go for days without having to poop. This pattern often begins at about 6 weeks of age and can continue for the entire time a baby is exclusively breastfed, which is until the age of about 6 months in many families.