Feeling frenzied all the time can take a toll on your fertility. Here’s how you can chillax and boost your odds of baby-making success.
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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.
Nipple confusion can be a problem for many breastfed babies if they are given a bottle too early, even if it's filled with breast milk. Here's why: Infants coordinate their jaw, cheek and swallowing muscles in a specific way when they are breastfeeding. With a bottle, their feeding patterns are completely different--a bottle, for instance, gushes milk into a baby's mouth, and the child needs to move his tongue to control the flow. Not so with the breast.
Yes—as long as it's in moderation. Since anything you eat or drink can be transferred to your baby through your breast milk, you do need to watch what you put in your body.
"Fruits and vegetables are essential to the breastfeeding diet," says Gina Solomon, M.D., M.P.H., a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Organic, pesticide-free produce is best, but if you can't find organic, rinse well and enjoy." Should your budget for organic foods be limited, she suggests buying organic versions of the produce most often treated with pesticides: berries; stone fruits (peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines, plums, etc.); leafy greens; and imported grapes. Domestic (in season) grapes are OK.
Breastfeed your baby, save the planet. It's a nice mantra for the eco-conscious times we live in. And it's true: More nursing means fewer bottles and formula cans to produce, ship and then dispose of.
You've read books, visited chat rooms, taken classes, made the (very smart) decision to breastfeed. You're ready, right? Mentally, yes, but once your baby makes his entrance, you're faced with the prospect of actually doing it—of 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 real-world tips to get you through those first hours in the hospital and first weeks at home.
Even though the first days and weeks of breastfeeding are the most important—it's when your milk supply is established and you and your baby get into the groove of things—many moms focus on this period to the exclusion of all others. But at some point down the road, you're likely to have different concerns and questions. Here's a look at some of the breastfeeding issues you're likely to face through the first year.
Possibly the most shocking moment in the final season of The Sopranos didn't involve a murder or betrayal. Rather, it was the image of a glamorous woman nursing her infant--in front of others. Babes for Breastfeeding (bestforbabes.com), a nonprofit organization formed last year by a lawyer and a businesswoman who became lactation counselors, intends to inspire a cultural shift that makes scenes like that the norm in TV, movies and everyday life. "Women don't need more pressure and guilt," says co-founder Danielle Rigg, a mother of two in New York City.
A mother nursing her baby—it's one of the most beautiful images nature could create. It's also one of the simplest. Breastfeeding is so natural, in fact, that we've been doing it for millions of years. (Indeed, without it, the human race wouldn't have survived.)