Common Breastfeeding Questions And Problems - Article One
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Common Breastfeeding Questions And Problems  -  Article One

The following questions represent only a few of the situations a breastfeeding mother may encounter or wonder about. Therefore it will be necessary to present them in a number of articles starting with this Article One.

Starting Out.

When will my milk come in? Mother's true milk appears between the second and fifth day after the baby's birth, depending on whether this is a first baby, the fatigue level of your birthing experience, how well your baby learns to latch on to your breasts, and how frequently and effectively your baby sucks. Baby is getting colostrum, the pre-milk that is very rich in protein, immune factors, and other ingredients that are beneficial to newly born babies until the true milk appears. For about a week mother's have transitional milk, a gradual changing from mostly colostrum to mostly milk. By ten to fourteen days after birth mother's milk has become mature milk. The following situations encourage mother's milk to be produced sooner and more comfortably:

*experiencing an uncomplicated birth

*encouraging early, frequent feedings

*learning correct, comfortable latch-on

*avoiding supplemental bottles unless medically necessary

*consulting with a lactation specialist

*having a supportive husband, friends, and health care professionals

How often and how long should I feed my baby? "Watch your baby and not the clock" is the advice of breastfeeding veterans. Breastfeeding is not a mathematical exercise; as one breastfeeding mother put it, "I don't count the number of feedings any more than I count the number of kisses." Baby sucks in varying intensities and durations (sometimes for long periods -- even as long as an hour), in the early weeks of breastfeeding. Baby can often fall asleep during a feeding and wake up in a half hour and want to feed again. Remember, it is the frequency of breastfeeding more than the duration that stimulates the milk-producing hormones.

There is no such thing as an "empty breast." You do not have to wait for your breast to "fill up" again after a feeding. There is always some milk there for baby. In fact, waiting a long time between feedings may be counterproductive. Lactation researchers have noticed that as the time between feedings increases, the fat level in the milk goes down. Frequent feedings give the baby the high-fat, high-calorie milk they need to grow. Lactation science also reports that babies are remarkably adept at regulating how much milk their mothers make. Some women's breasts have lower storage capacities than others. (This is not necessarily related to breast size.) Researchers have found that babies of mothers with lower milk-storage capacity simply nurse more often to make up for the lower volume at each feeding.

Your nipples will not get sore from breastfeeding too frequently, as long as you have correct positioning and latch-on. You may hear advise like, "begin with three minutes on each side and gradually increase by one minute each feeding until you baby is feeding ten minutes on each side. After ten minutes that is enough."; ignore this advice. Babies did not write these restrictive rules nor did experienced breastfeeding mothers. Often it may take two minutes of sucking for a new mother's MER to activate. Mellow newborns may take a longer time to get a full meal, whereas ravenous feeders can finish off a breast with ten minutes. After months of breastfeeding, when mother and baby are in harmony with each other, many babies can get all the milk they need within the first ten minutes, but most babies still linger at the breast for more sucking. Remember, sore nipples are caused y improper latch-on and suck, not by how long baby sucks. Even three minutes of incorrect sucking or latch-on makes nipples sore.

Realistically, expect baby to breastfeed an average of every two hours around the clock for the first month to six weeks. Then gradually the frequency of feedings diminishes. When mother and baby are establishing appropriate milk-supply levels in the early weeks, let baby breastfeed as frequently and as long as he/she wishes and your lifestyle permits. Once the milk supply is established and mother and baby have reached a mutually satisfying routine, when frequent and unrestricted breastfeeding is still preferable, baby may accept forms of comforting other than frequent breastfeeding.

There will be more articles to come on Common Breastfeeding Questions and Problems.

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Sally Michener


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