The day after I came home from the hospital with my brand-new daughter, I found myself sitting in an armchair with the baby nurse, my husband, a neighbor and a chirpy doula named Lori all leaning over me, staring in wonder and cooing encouragement. It wasn’t my baby they were looking at; it was my breasts. As they poked, prodded and discussed the shape of my nipples, I began to feel my breasts take on a life of their own. Maybe it was from lack of sleep, but I swear I saw them float up in front of me and say, “We’re in charge now, honey. Get used to it.”
If someone were to offer you an elixir that could help protect your new baby from bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections, would you want to know more? If you knew that the effects of this concoction would last into your child’s teen-age years, reducing his risk for obesity, diabetes, allergies, asthma and high blood pressure, would you just have to have it? If the same potion might boost his IQ, wouldn’t you rush out to find it now?
Should you breastfeed? Yes. Nothing is better for your baby than breast milk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants consume breast milk exclusively for the first six months of life. Thereafter, breast milk combined with slowly introduced solid foods is recommended through the end of the first year.
Caring for a newborn can leave you with precious little time or energy to devote to eating right. But it’s important to make good nutrition a priority, especially if you’re breastfeeding—after all, your baby is relying on you to supply all the nutrients he needs. Here are 7 simple shortcuts and guidelines to help you get the maximum nutrition with minimal effort.
When I was pregnant, I heard many a story about problems other women had with breastfeeding: cracked and bleeding nipples, painful engorgement and inadequate milk supply, to name just a few. I knew I wanted to nurse my baby and felt confident that I could, but I wondered: Will these things happen to me, too?
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.