Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breastfeeding Basics: Answers to Five Common Questions

By Lisa Pecos

Most new mothers who choose to breastfeed discover almost immediately that little instruction is required. The act of nursing is instinctive for both mother and baby, and even without outside help the process usually goes relatively smoothly. But even when things go relatively smoothly, it is common for problems to arise. If you are encountering breastfeeding problems or are worried about issues you may face in the future, here are some of the most common questions that might arise.

Is breast milk enough?
Many mothers worry that their breast milk will not be enough to satisfy all of a baby’s nutritional needs. Set this worry aside. A mother’s ability to produce copious, vitamin-rich milk is backed by millions of years of evolution, and the body has an almost incredible ability to produce good milk, even if it means the mother has to miss out on some nutrients herself. Try not to let this happen, though. While breastfeeding, make sure to eat a variety of healthy foods, and be sure to eat a few hundred extra calories per day.

What if my baby will not nurse?
There are any number of reasons why a baby might refuse to take the breast. If your baby is otherwise healthy, reluctance to feed may indicate sleepiness, fullness, or too much gas in the belly. Initially, try to have faith in your baby, and trust that he or she will take the breast when it is time. But if the problem persists and the baby goes several hours without eating, get in touch with your doctor or a lactation consultant.

What if I do not produce enough milk?
For a healthy mother who is breastfeeding, milk supply is based on demand. The more your child eats from the breast, the more milk you will produce. Once you get through the initial week or two of breastfeeding, you may even find that your body produces milk on a set schedule, making at times of day when the baby tends to be most hungry. Try not to worry. Many mothers are initially worried that they will not produce enough milk. More often than not, within a week or two they are producing more milk than they can use (in which case pumping becomes necessary).

How do I prevent spitting up?
First, accept that your baby is going to spit up sometimes. All babies do it. Some do it more than others, and this does not necessarily indicate any failing on the part of the parents. However, spitting up can be minimized by (1) making sure the baby does not eat too much, and (2) burping during and after the feeding process. For the first point, try to read your baby’s signals. When she pulls away or slows down drastically, she might be done. As for burping, try to do it once halfway through the feeding and once at the end. You will become quite good at it after a few weeks.

What if my baby falls asleep while feeding?
Newborns are especially wont to fall asleep during feeding, but some older babies continue to do it for months. Think of it as a good sign. It shows that your baby is so soothed by your milk and your presence that he relaxes to the point of sleep. However, it is important to make sure that he gets enough. When he falls asleep, gently pat him, tickle his feet, talk to him, sing to him, or break the mouth suction. Do whatever it takes to keep him sucking until he has had his fill.

Lisa Pecos is a wife and well accomplished writer on natural remedies and natural approaches to family health. She’s written numerous articles for Natural Health Journals.com, Parenting Journals.com and Baby Care Journals.com.


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