The most common question that follows the ever-popular, “When are you due?” and “Do you know what you’re having?” is a prompt to begin a debate: “Are you going to breastfeed?” The dispute over breast vs. bottle has caused more than one verbal scuffle between opinionated moms at the playground.
In all fairness, everyone is entitled to feed their baby the way that works best for them. We would never bash a bottle-feeding mama, because nursing might not be for everyone. But if you’re planning to breastfeed or just trying to make up your mind, read on for everything you need to know to make breastfeeding happen happily, and best of luck on your nursing adventures!
Why is breastfeeding so important?
You hear the phrase “breast is best” all the time, but have you ever wondered what it is that makes it superior? Monica Dickinson Cheung, RN, assistant nurse manager for perinatal services at Kaiser Hayward, says, “Breast milk is a complete meal for a baby with just the right amount of fat, protein, sugar and water needed for growth and development.” Breast milk contains the perfect balance of important proteins, fats, hormones, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Since a mother’s milk is designed specifically with her newborn’s needs in mind, it holds essentially everything your baby needs to stay healthy.
Making it work
Stacey H. Rubin, neonatal nurse practitioner, lactation consultant and author of The ABCs of Breastfeeding, tells moms that “the first few days of breastfeeding are really the most important. Many nursing problems can be linked to those early days.”
“I always advise my clients to start with their mind. Examine how you think and feel about breastfeeding (if you think it’s embarrassing or going to hurt) and turn any negative feelings you have around, so you go into it with a good perspective. We tend to act out things we feel in our minds, so it’s likely to be more difficult if you’re focusing on negative thoughts,” advises Rubin.
She recommends “rooming-in” so your baby is with you at all times and you don’t miss any crucial nursing opportunities. “The number one, most important part of getting breastfeeding going after having a baby is having your baby with you. If your baby is in the nursery for hours at a time, those are missed opportunities for breastfeeding.” By having your baby close by, you can begin to learn her hunger cues and introduce her to the breast again and again, so you can both become more comfortable and confident nursers.
“Nurse your baby as early and often as possible, and don’t worry about over-feeding your baby,” advises Cheung. “Some babies want to breastfeed constantly during the first few days. It doesn’t mean your baby is not getting enough. A mom’s milk supply is triggered by the baby suckling at the breast, so this is baby’s way of saying, ‘I’m going to want a lot of milk, please.’”
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