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Three Pieces of Breastfeeding Advice to Ignore
“Don’t breastfeed your baby all the time or he’ll become too dependent. You have to wait and feed him every few hours.”
This is probably the worst breastfeeding advice you’ve ever heard. Following this advice can not only cause blocked milk ducts and breast infection, but also sabotage the entire breastfeeding relationship.
In short, don’t.
Don’t nurse your baby like a bottle baby. Scheduled feeding applies to formula-fed babies, not breastfeeding mothers. Unlike formula, breast milk is digested quickly, and because babies’ stomachs are small, expect your little one to be “lunch-feeding” most of the day and night in the early weeks. It is normal for newborns to seem hungry every hour for part of the day.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, newborns should be nursed whenever they show signs of hunger: rooting, putting their hands in their mouths, mouthing, fussing or crying, which are actually late signs of hunger. Listen to them.
Unlike formula, breast milk works according to the law of supply and demand. The more nurses you have, the more milk you will make and vice versa. Infants receiving scheduled feedings may not breastfeed enough to ensure an adequate milk supply.
And what about infant addiction? Babies are supposed to depend on you. After all, a baby can’t do much for itself. So toss those schedules in the diaper pail.
“Whatever you do, don’t let the baby sleep in your bed.”
While co-sleeping isn’t the solution for every family, it can make nighttime breastfeeding (and sleep) less painful for parents and babies. Most families around the world sleep next to their babies. The United States is one of the few countries where this act is considered taboo. But why?
According to the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, babies and mothers who sleep together get more sleep than those who sleep separately.
But what about the long-term negative effects of co-sleeping? Research shows that there are none. While some parents have an irrational fear of “oversleeping,” it’s simply not a problem unless the parent is under the influence of mind-altering drugs, in which case they shouldn’t be caring for their baby anyway.
In fact, co-sleeping babies usually have one thing in common – they feel good – physically, mentally and intellectually. And they breastfeed well. Co-sleeping babies tend to eat more at night, thus maintaining breast milk supply and promoting natural distance between children.
Co-sleeping makes breastfeeding at night much easier and safer, as long as you take certain safety precautions and are a non-smoker. If the baby wakes up during the night, he just needs to roll onto his side and start breastfeeding. You can then continue to snooze until the babysitters go back to sleep.
Ignore the people who tell you that you’re falling over your baby (highly unlikely if you’re sober) or that you’re fake. People talk like sleeping next to a baby is a slippery slope – do it once and you’ll never have a child-free bed until your teenage years roll around. But that’s not necessarily true. As with anything, do what works for your family’s situation.
“Babies should not continue to breastfeed [six months, one year, etc]. Mothers who breastfeed their young children do so for themselves rather than for their babies.”
There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding young children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that there is no evidence of psychological or developmental harm in infants older than one year.
In addition, extended care has many advantages. Research shows that babies over one year old still get significant amounts of nutrients from breast milk. Even though young children need solid foods, breast milk is still a valuable part of their diet, containing high amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin C and protein. The composition of the milk also changes to meet the growing needs of the baby.
Even though breastfeeding young children is not at the forefront of society, breastfeeding for longer periods is not extreme. The AAP recommends breastfeeding for at least one year and beyond, as the mother and child mutually desire, and the World Health Organization encourages mothers to breastfeed for at least two years.
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