• What Is Breastfeeding?
|What Is Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding, also called nursing, is the suckling of an infant from the mother's breast. In the past wealthy women who did not want to be tied to nursing their baby employed the services of a wet nurse. A wet nurse was a woman who was lactating (producing breast milk) after giving birth herself and who was willing to breastfeed another woman's child. Wet nurses were indispensable at a time when many women died in childbirth. Today, the benefits of breastfeeding are slightly different, but no less important. The experience of breastfeeding is special for many reasons, including:
While breastfeeding is natural, most women still need some guidance. If you are nursing for the first time, you will find many sources of help and support, including specialized health professionals and friends and members of the family who have already breastfed successfully. The following is a list of specialists who can provide advice:
Learning how to breastfeed takes time and needs practice. Tips on how to breastfeed and for starting off include:
Basically - as soon as possible after birth and then often. You should feed your baby at least 8 to 12 times every 24 hours to encourage milk production. This means, after birth your baby will probably need feeding hourly or every 2 hours during the day and a few times during the night. A healthy baby will quickly develop their own eating pattern so follow their lead and watch for signs that they are ready to eat again. One feeding session typically lasts about 15 to 20 minutes per breast (a total of 30 to 40 minutes). If you are worried that your baby is not eating enough, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American College of Nurse-Midwives recommend:
Breastfeeding problems can occur, particularly in the first days and weeks of starting. The following is a list of the most common complications. It is worth mentioning that just because you developed certain problems with one baby does not automatically mean you will for the next one.
Breastfeeding can delay the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles by a few months. Most women who breastfeed start ovulating within 10 to 12 weeks (although some women experience longer delays). If you are concerned about becoming pregnant again, talk to your doctor about a suitable form of birth control to use while breastfeeding. IUD devices can be inserted after week 4 and birth control injections after week 6.
If you smoke, ideally you should quit for the sake of your own and your baby's health. If you can't quit, it is still better to breastfeed because you can protect your baby from sudden infant death syndrome and respiratory problems. If you do smoke, do so outside the house away from the baby. Ideally you should also avoid alcohol while nursing, but an occasional small drink is fine (just avoid feeding for 2 hours after the drink).
Postpartum depression is different to the baby blues. The blues are a temporary form of depression which disappears quickly after childbirth. Postpartum depression is more serious, and fortunately far less common. Read about the symptoms of postpartum depression. If you are diagnosed with the condition, you will need to work with your doctor to find the best form of treatment. You may need to take antidepressants. While these medications do pass into breast milk, few problems have been reported in babies.
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