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- Why is breastfeeding better than formula feeding?
- Is it going to hurt?
- How do I know if my baby is getting enough?
- Will breastfeeding affect what medications I can take?
- Does breastfeeding help me?
- Are there foods I can't eat if I am?
- Can I breastfeed in public?
- Do I ever need to give my baby formula?
- What about pacifiers and pumping?
- What is a lactation consultant?
- About Donna
1. Why is breastfeeding better than formula feeding?
Breast milk is perfectly designed human milk for human babies. It is dynamic with living organisms that have been recognized to help protect babies from pathogens they find in their own environments including intestinal illnesses, allergies and asthma. There is less obesity in breastfed children as they get older, less incidence of juvenile diabetes, orthodontic problems and there is also some evidence that IQ levels in breastfed babies are a few points higher.
For moms some benefits are less incidence of reproductive cancers, less incidence of bleeding in the postpartal period, less incidence of post partum depression when there are no other contributing factors. There is faster weight loss after delivery and in diabetic moms blood sugars are easier to stabilize while exclusively breastfeeding. And breastfeeding, even with the expense of pumps and equipment is much cheaper! And that is not even the tip of the iceberg.
The CDC, WHO, and American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months and then to use breast milk as the baby's milk supply until mom or baby decide to wean.
More information about the benefits of breastfeeding can be found on these organizations Web sites.
2. Is it going to hurt?
Pain in the first two to three weeks is almost always associated with poor positioning and latch-on. A little tenderness is normal as your nipples get used to the suckling motion and the baby becomes more efficient. However, bleeding, cracking and raw nipples are definitely NOT normal and help should be found as soon as possible.
Babies who are making their moms' nipples sore are not removing adequate milk and are at risk for poor weight gain and nutrition. If you have these difficulties please call me so we can figure out together how to fix this issue.
3. How do I know if my baby is getting enough?
When a baby is properly latched and removing milk there should be strong, ear wiggling sucks with swallows, a change in the fullness of mom's breast, a satisfied baby after nursing, and also adequate wet and dirty diapers.
Once mom's milk is in, a baby within the first 4 to 6 weeks should be eating 8 to 12 times in 24 hours and having 2 to 3 stools at least the size of a quarter and 6 to 8 wet diapers. Babies this age don't get constipated due to the natural laxative in colostrum and early breast milk, so if a baby is not having enough dirty diapers they don't need a suppository, they need more milk volume. If you are worried about your baby's weight gain most pediatrician offices allow you to come in and perform a weight check at no charge. If your baby is having weight or feeding issues give me a call and we will see if we can find a solution.
4. Will breastfeeding affect what medications I can take?
Most drugs are compatible with breastfeeding but if you have a question call your pediatrician's office and ask them. Most pediatricians, and some obstetricians, have Medications and Mother's Milk by Dr Thomas Hale in their offices to reference for questions. Your baby's pediatrician will tell you whether you should "pump and dump" while taking a specific medication.
5. Does breastfeeding help me?
Breastfeeding burns 350 to 500 calories a day. So even if your appetite increases, if you are eating a reasonably healthy diet you should notice a gradual weight loss after the first 6 to 8 weeks.
6. Are there foods I can't eat if I am?
Flavors of the foods you eat do go into your breast milk, although some babies are more sensitive than others to what is in a mom's diet. Most babies can tolerate whatever the mom eats. Overindulging in something, however, may cause discomfort for your baby either with more gas or rashes. Dairy products tend to be the worst culprit, but unless your baby shows a problem with something you are eating, enjoy!
7. Can I breastfeed in public?
Texas law protects your right to breastfeed in public if you want to. If you are uncomfortable in public, use a blanket to cover you and your baby; many stores have areas that are less public - for example, women's changing rooms or the inside corner booth of a restaurant.
However, remember that while your right to breastfeed is protected (meaning you can't be arrested) the proprietor of an establishment has a right to ask you to leave if they are themselves uncomfortable. Our goal is to get everyone to consider breastfeeding as the norm and hopefully the more moms doing so will help achieve this.
8. Do I ever need to give my baby formula?
Baby has to eat - bottom line. If your baby is not breastfeeding well and you can’t pump enough breast milk to meet your baby's needs then, yes, you have to feed them formula. If your pediatrician tells you to supplement with formula then, yes, you do. Ask to speak directly to the doctor or nurse practitioner, so you will understand the reasons behind why you are being told to do so. Most doctors are very supportive of breastfeeding and will not instruct you to use formula without a good reason.
9. What about pacifiers and pumping?
Pacifiers are generally not recommended the first month of breastfeeding as long as you or your pumped milk are available. Obviously if you are in the car or grocery store, etc. that is a different story.
After that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends use while sleeping as a possible prevention of SIDS (crib death). If your baby is acting hungry then feeding is the thing to do. Pacifiers should NEVER be used in place of a feeding just because "it isn't time yet." If you are hungry, not on a diet and with food available would you take a piece of unflavored, unsweetened gum instead of eating?
Unless you have a baby in ICU, having milk supply problems, a baby who is not gaining weight, unrelieved engorgement, using a baby sitter, taking incompatible medications or going back to work then there is no need to pump. Your baby is your best pump and especially within the first two to three weeks you don't need any unnecessary bells and whistles.
10. What is a lactation consultant?
There are different kinds of lactation consultants. There are peer counselors in the WIC office who are mothers with 20 hours of training. There are Certified Lactation consultants who are required to have 40 hours of instruction for their certification. Then, there are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. They have a required number of hours of lecture as well as actual hands on experience that varies depending on what the education and experience level of the applicant is.
Certified lactation consultants take a 6 hour test given only once a year on the same day all over the world. Hence the term International. Those that pass are known as IBCLCs and are then expected to practice within the Code of Ethics and Scope of Care that has been established by the Board of Lactation Examiners.
Those who are not qualified to make medical diagnoses are expected to refer the baby to a health professional who can diagnose and treat when the occasion arises. There are a variety of people who are IBCLCs including but not limited to, pediatricians, obstetricians, family practice doctors, nurses, dieticians, attorneys, many other professionals and lay people.
I have been an IBCLC for nine years and a Registered Nurse for 38 years, specializing in newborns and preemies. What brings us together is we are all dedicated to promoting breastfeeding and helping moms successfully meet their breastfeeding goals.
References Include: Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics, International Board of Lactation Consultants Examiners, Texas Department of Health, Real Deal on Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding AnswerBook.