Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants. It can also reduce the risk for certain health conditions for both infants and mothers. -CDC
Benefits for Infants
Infants who are breastfed have reduced risks of:
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Severe lower respiratory disease.
- Acute otitis media (ear infections).
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting).
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) for preterm infants.
Benefits for Mothers
Breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of:
- High blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Ovarian cancer.
- Breast cancer.
How often should I breastfeed? Your newborn should be nursing 8 to 12 times per day for about the first month.
By 1 to 2 months of age, a breastfed baby will probably nurse 7-9 times a day.
Before your milk supply is established, breastfeeding should be "on-demand" (when your baby is hungry), which is generally every 1½ to 3 hours. As newborns get older, they'll need to nurse less frequently, and may develop a more reliable schedule. Some might feed every hour and a half, whereas others might go 2 or 3 hours between feedings. Newborns should not go more than about 4 hours without feeding, even overnight. -kids health.
Are feeding intervals counted from the time my baby starts or stops nursing?
You count the length between feedings from the time when your baby begins to nurse, rather than when he or she ends, to when your little one starts nursing again. In other words, when your doctor asks how often your baby is feeding, you can say "about every 2 hours" if your first feeding started at 6 a.m. and the next feeding was at around 8 a.m., then 10 a.m., and so on. -kids health.
My daughter at 4 weeks old wanted to sleep through the night. However, I would dream feed and change her diaper once or twice a night. That all changed when she started teething around 12 weeks and she was waking up on her own.
The day we came home from the hospital was a bit overwhelming. I wouldn't have the call button for the nurse and lactation specialist?! Not to mention my hormones were running wild and the thought that our little one was entering the outside world...terrifying. Definitely shed some tears during the car ride home. Finally, we get home and I immediately asked myself should I pump? I was so scared it would dry up my breast milk that I didn't. Soon after my engorged breast reduced, and I was able to pump.
Why pump in the beginning?
In the beginning, is when you have the most milk supply. Pumping AND nursing will keep your milk production up.
When is the best time to pump?
The best time to pump for me was early in the morning and late at night.
Different positions to breastfeed:
The Cradle; Sit with baby lengthwise across your abdomen with your elbow supporting her head and your hand supporting her bottom. Your other hand supports the breast.
The Cross Cradle; Lay baby on her side, well supported (consider a nursing pillow) and touching you. If you're feeding on your left breast, use your right arm to support the baby's body and your right hand to support her head. Your fingers support the left breast.
Side Laying Position; To feed on the left breast, lie on your left side with your back supported. Lay baby on her side facing you, her chest against yours. Your right arm will support her body, and your right hand will support his head, bringing him toward your breast. Some mothers are more comfortable with the baby supported in the crook of their arm.
The Football Position; Hold the baby at your side face up and lengthwise, supported by pillows. If nursing on your right side, use your right arm to support the baby at your side and guide her head to your breast.
My daughter spit up a lot so feeding her in the football position seemed to work for us better because she was more in an upright position. It was also easier to burp her when switching sides. She stayed within her growth chart at her monthly pediatrician visits so we never had to worry about the spit-ups being a problem. Eventually, she stopped spitting up at 8 months old. (No more laundry problems...Yay!)
Breastfeeding can be easier if you have a daily routine.
Is my baby's poop normal?
This is a visual guide I thought was super helpful. Baby Poop: A visual guide.
In the end, we survived. I managed to push through my first few weeks of pain by using lots of lanolin cream and cold packs for my sore nipples and engorged breast. Once I became comfortable and confident breastfeeding began to get easy and feel natural. I set a goal for myself to breastfeed my daughter for 1 year. I am happy to report that I breastfed for 1 year and 4 months.
My pediatrician strongly encouraged me to push the foods so I did.
We started introducing:
Apples and Bananas in a mesh feeder when she started cutting teeth around 5 months.
Puréed Food (Bananas, Apples, Carrots, Avocado, Egg Yoke, Sweet Potatoes) around 6 months.
Puffs & Yogurt Snacks around 8 months.
Puréed Food with Meat around 9 months.
My daughter was never a big eater. It never really bothered me until she turned a year old. I asked my pediatrician what I should do about her eating habits and she assured me that she was getting the right amount of nutrients from breastfeeding. However, Dr. D recommended that I start the weaning process. My mommy gut knew I should probably listen to her. I had lost a lot of weight from breastfeeding 24/7 and my energy level was low. After a few months of trying to wean I realized that in order for me to actually not give in to morning and nighttime feedings I would have to stop cold turkey. The day I officially stopped was August 21, 2013. Looking back weaning my daughter was not hard at all. There were a few times she would want to nurse and I would just hand her a cup. Guess what?!? As soon as I stopped breastfeeding she immediately starting eating table food. No more picky eater!
What's in your daughter’s sippy cup?
Organic Almond Milk
Organic Coconut Water
Organic Whole Cow Milk
My breast were engorged for exactly seven days. On the morning of the eighth day I woke up and my breast had reduced several sizes. A few days later I was completely back in my regular size bras.
Weaning Tips and Tricks:
You don't have to quit cold turkey. You can reduce feedings and slowly stop. It was just best for me and my daughter to quit cold turkey. Why? I felt like I was only teasing my daughter. Some days I would give in and nurse her... I would have never stopped. (it was for the best.)
If you need to quit cold turkey use a breast pump to slowly reduce your milk supply. Just know it will take longer for your milk to dry up.
If you want to dry up quickly don't express your breast milk. If the pain is excruciating express a little in the shower.
Use organic cabbage for drying up your milk. This also works to reduce swelling since the cabbage is cold. The enzymes in the cabbage supposedly help. Make sure to cover the entire breast and replace them when they wilt.
Use an ice pack or a frozen towel to reduce swollen breasts.
Drink sage tea. Sage contains a natural estrogen that is reputed to dry up your milk supply. Peppermint Tea helps too.
Take a pain reliever. I used ibuprofen (if you are pumping and saving the milk for your baby, be careful about what you take, consult with your Doctor.
Avoid nipple stimulation, as this will trigger milk production.
Drink lots of water. If you become dehydrated, you will actually start producing more milk, and your discomfort will increase.
The first few nights you may leak. Totally normal.
Wear snug sports bras...even at night. The tighter the bra the more comfortable I felt.
I worried about getting a breast infection (mastitis) Never did. A good way to tell if you have mastitis is that your breast will turn completely bright red.
Here are a few more questions that came up while breastfeeding:
1. How do I know she's properly latched on?
Here are twelve signs:
If your newborn is latched on correctly, nursing shouldn't hurt a bit -- though it may feel a bit strange at first. "Breastfeeding [for the first time] is a different sensation than a woman has ever experienced before," says Denise Altman, a registered lactation consultant in Columbia, South Carolina. "It's like trying to describe labor pains to someone who's never had a baby." Altman says you should feel a gentle tugging and slight tenderness at most.
When your babe is latched on, his lips should curl around your nipple. "Some babies have very thin lips and some have Angelina Jolie lips," Altman says. "But you should see at least a thin pink line." Lightly push down on your breast tissue to see the latch. If his lips are tucked in, you may develop nipple soreness.
Have a helper pull down your baby's lower lip to see if her tongue is in the right spot. If it's not between your breast and her lower gum, the latch is wrong, and it's best to start over. "Make sure the tongue isn't glued to the roof of the mouth," Altman suggests. Tickle your baby's cheek with your nipple to get her to open as wide as possible before bringing her to your breast.
Although the exact position depends on your breast size, at least half of your areola should be in your baby's mouth. For the most comfort, lactation consultants typically recommend an asymmetrical latch, meaning more areola should show above the baby's top lip than below the bottom lip. But, as always, check with your consultant to find out what's best for you.
If your baby is sucking and swallowing correctly, you should see his ears moving up and down. The movement may be rapid at the start of feeding and slow as the feeding progresses.
Listen for a short "aah" as you nurse your baby, Altman says. This is a sign that her breathing and swallowing are coordinated and she's nursing successfully.
•No Spilled Milk
If milk is leaking out of the corners of your baby's mouth, that usually indicates he isn't latched tightly. However, it also could mean you have an abundant milk supply or your babe is simply a messy eater. "Leaky milk is only a problem if feedings aren't going well," Altman says. "If Mom is having pain or if Baby isn't gaining weight, then there's a problem."
"Usually if you're hearing something, there is a suction break somewhere along the baby's lips," Altman says. Make sure your nipple is deep in her mouth for the best suction. If you start to hear noises, gently insert your index finger into the side of her mouth, pull her off, and start again.
It's a good thing when your little one mellows during a feeding. "When a baby is breastfeeding, the intestines release a hormone that relaxes," Altman says. If his hands unclench, his legs go limp, and his eyes roll back, which means he's getting his fill. But, Altman warns, he shouldn't fall asleep while sucking. A baby who nods off while nursing is disinterested and isn't getting filled up.
Nicely rounded cheeks mean your baby's mouth is filling with breast milk after each suck -- and that's a good thing. If her cheeks start to hollow -- like she's making a kissing face -- she may not be latched on properly, and you'll need to start over.
Altman asks her mothers to imagine a steam train while nursing. "I tell them to picture the little bar that connects the wheels," she says. "Your baby's jaw should be moving forward and backward as smoothly as that bar." If your baby's jaw is gliding, the milk is flowing easily, but if he looks like he's chomping, he's not getting a steady supply.
Your newborn's chin should be pushing into your breast and her nose should be lightly resting on your breast. If her face is pulled away from your body, she probably doesn't have enough of your breast in her mouth.
2. Is My Baby Getting Enough Breast Milk?
Babies give us "signs" to let us know they're getting enough to eat. This is handy, after all, as you want to make sure that your baby is receiving all the nourishment she needs and, you can't actually see how much milk she is taking in during each nursing session.
Let the following signs be a good guide that your breastfeeding baby is getting enough:
Your breasts feel softer after nursing (your baby has emptied some of the milk that was making them firm. And you're hearing the sucking and swallowing sounds associated with that emptying.
After feeding, your baby seems relaxed and satisfied.
After gaining back her initial weight loss after birth (within 10-14 days), your baby continues to gain weight. Consult with a lactation consultant and/or your baby's doctor for more details about your baby's growth, but on average, a good weight gain is 1/2 oz-1 oz/d in the early days of life.
In the first few days, when your baby is getting valuable colostrum, she may have only one or two wet diapers a day. However, after your milk comes in your baby will wet six to eight diapers per day.
In the first month, your baby has at least three stools a day, and they lighten to a seedy-yellowy/mustard color by the fifth day after birth. She may have less frequent bowel movements once she's around 2 months old. In fact, it's not uncommon for breastfed babies to skip a day of bowel movements now and then. Once she's eating solid foods, at 6 months, she'll probably become quite regular and go back to having at least one bowel movement a day.
During every breastfeeding session, let your baby end the feeding. Your baby will let go or fall asleep when he is no longer hungry. He will look very content. If needed, break the suction before you take baby off your breast by gently sliding your finger between your baby’s gums and into his mouth.
This was one of my biggest concerns as a new breastfeeding mommy. Is my baby getting enough breast milk? I never really thought I produced enough. However, my pediatrician put me at ease when she told me that as long as my baby was staying on her growth chart I didn't have to worry.
3. How do I know if she's hungry?
•sucking on their hands; lip-smacking.
•rooting, turning head sideways with mouth open.
•you may also see an increase in body movements such as stretching, or hand-to-mouth movements.
4. Am I producing enough breast milk?
The FIRST MONTH of breastfeeding is key to developing the milk supply you will have for as long as you breastfeed your baby. In some cases, a mother is unable to produce enough milk to exclusively meet the needs of her baby. However, true milk insufficiencies are very rare. In fact, about 1 in 1000 women are actually unable to produce enough milk to breastfeed.
5. How long should I breastfeed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are breastfed exclusively for 6 months, and receive no milk substitutes till 12 months and that mothers continue to breastfeed after that for as long as they enjoy it. The World Health Organization recommends that infants nurse, here and worldwide, for a minimum of two years.
Here are some of the dangers of weaning in the first year for mothers:
•higher chance of post-partum •hemorrhage after birth in mother
•higher rates of breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer for mothers
•higher osteoporosis rates in mothers who formula feed.
Here are some of the dangers for the babies:
•higher rates of leukemia
•higher rates of breast cancer for daughters
•higher incidence of Crohn's disease
•higher incidence of juvenile diabetes
•more allergies and asthma
•more ear infections
•more diarrheal infections
•more respiratory infections
•more bacterial meningitis infections
•more juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
•more Hodgkins disease
Read more at nursingbaby.com
7. What is Dream Feeding?
Dream feeding is the term adopted for a late-night feeding of a newborn. The main benefit of dream feeding is that it helps the baby sleep for a 4- to 5-hour stretch overnight, which allows mom to finally get some much-needed sleep. It's called dream feeding because the baby usually stays asleep through the feeding process. It doesn't work for every baby, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that many parents are able to get more sleep by dream feeding.
Benefits of Dream Feeding:
Having a baby can send you on a downward spiral to fatigue and sleeplessness. Your new bundle of joy will wake up every two to three hours for a feeding, so you will have to wake up each time as well. You don't get enough restorative sleep, and it wears you down, potentially deteriorating your health and mental well-being. If dream feeding works for you, it can allow you to get 4 to 5 hours of sleep. If your partner does the late-night feeding, you might even get in a full night's sleep (occasionally).
How to Dream Feed:
Dream feeding is usually carried out at around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. Every baby is different, but a typical feeding schedule can occur at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m., followed by 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. (Having fun yet?) For the feeding that occurs in the late evening hours, the goal is to feed the baby without fully waking him up.
Try to get the baby to take the nipple without waking him. You can do this by brushing the nipple against his cheek. Gently stroking his hand or the soles of his feet can sometimes work too (don't ask us why). Once the baby takes the nipple, you can usually change his diaper without disturbing him too much. Once the feeding is done, gently move him over your shoulder. Burp him and put him back down to sleep.
Hopefully, the baby will stay down and sleep past the 2:00 a.m. feeding time. The goal is to stretch out that overnight sleep period as long as possible, so you can get some extra hours of sleep. If you are bottle feeding and your partner can do the dream feed on a schedule, you could potentially get a full night's sleep.
When do you Stop Dream Feeding?
You can start weaning the baby off of dream feeding after the first two months or so. After that, most babies start to sleep through the night on their own. Most babies will take no longer than 3 to 4 months before they are sleeping through the night. In some cases, the baby may develop a dependency on that late-night feeding, and it will be more difficult to get them to "kick the habit." You can either reduce the amount that you're feeding them until they can go without it, or just try to quit cold turkey.
Products that I loved during breastfeeding:
Sixty percent of mothers do not breastfeed for as long as they intend to.4 How long a mother breastfeeds her baby (duration) is influenced by many factors including:
- Issues with lactation and latching.
- Concerns about infant nutrition and weight.
- Mother’s concern about taking medications while breastfeeding.
- Unsupportive work policies and lack of parental leave.
- Cultural norms and lack of family support.
- Unsupportive hospital practices and policies.
Visit The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding to learn how you can participate in a society-wide approach to support mothers and babies who are breastfeeding.
|Key Breastfeeding Indicators||Current Rates|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Ever.*||83.2|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: At 6 months.*||55.8|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: At 1 year.*||35.9|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Exclusively through 3 months.*||45.3|
|Percentage of infants who are breastfed: Exclusively through 6 months.*||24.9|
|Percentage of breastfed newborns who receive formula supplementation within the first 2 days of life.*||19.2|
Breastfeeding Disparities Exist.
- Fewer non-Hispanic Black infants (74.1%) are ever breastfed compared with Asian infants (90.8%), non-Hispanic White infants (85.3%) and Hispanic infants (83.0%).
- Infants eligible for and receiving the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are less likely to ever be breastfed (74.7%) than infants eligible, but not receiving WIC (85.6%), and infants ineligible for WIC (91.2%).
- Younger mothers aged 20 to 29 years are less likely to ever breastfeed (79.9%) than mothers aged 30 years or older (84.9%).
Because of the importance of breastfeeding for the health of mothers and babies, CDC supports breastfeeding through hospital initiatives, work site accommodation, continuity of care, and community support initiatives.
Together we can help educate and motivate mothers. Believe in yourself, set a goal, donate your breast milk and encourage mothers to breastfeed.
I would love to hear your breastfeeding story in the comments below.
Thank you to my dear friend Emily for inspiring me to breastfeed. Thank you to my husband. You never stopped believing in me. You lifted me up on those days when I wanted to give up.