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3 Breastfeeding Rules That Are Meant To Be Broken
Breastfeeding advice abounds in parenting magazines, books, websites, and even in free pamphlets from formula manufacturers. Some of the information is contradictory and some is simply false. For example, here are 3 bad tips and why they can lead to problems.
1) Only breastfeed for XXX minutes per side
Fill in the blank here. It could be 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 15 minutes, but breastfeeding mothers are often told to look at the clock instead of the baby. Sane people (like the midwife who told me this after my oldest was born) say this because they think the pain is related to how long or how often they breastfeed. No. Pain relates to HOW nurses.
So why is this advice bad?
Because babies can’t tell time. It can take a newborn 15 minutes to nurse on one breast, especially if he (and you) are still learning the ropes. Don’t set a time limit for breastfeeding your newborn. There is no such thing as non-nourishing sucking. Your baby’s reward is always an ounce or drop of milk while at the breast.
In addition, the milk that the baby receives at the end of the feed, after the second letdown, is higher in fat and calories. Limiting time spent at the breast can lead to slow weight gain, fussiness, excessive gas, and other problems in some babies.
2) Breastfed babies poop every day
While many young breastfed babies have dirty diapers every day, many do not. This is very distressing for a poor mother who thinks her baby will starve if she doesn’t fill diapers every day. Remember that breast milk is completely digested and there is little or no “waste”. Sometimes, especially during periods of rapid growth, your baby will skip days between bowel movements. When my second child was a newborn, he once went 8 days without a bowel movement and I was worried. When he finally left, what he lacked in frequency he made up for in quantity. If memory serves, several loads of laundry were needed to clean up the mess!
If your baby is producing lots of wet diapers, has no signs of dehydration, and is gaining weight on schedule, he’s probably fine. The consistency of your movements rather than their frequency is a more accurate sign of constipation. Remember that fully breastfed babies do not need a chair. If a baby who is eating solid food has difficulty passing hard stools, call your doctor or a lactation consultant. And don’t limit the time you spend at the breast.
3) Don’t let him use it for a pacifier
This is another well-intentioned piece of advice where the counselor is trying to lighten the load
is a breastfeeding mother, but reveals a lack of understanding of the breastfeeding relationship.
Breastfed babies don’t just breastfeed when they’re hungry. They also nurse when they are thirsty, tired, overstimulated, afraid, injured, ill, lonely or bored. And that’s okay. Frequent breastfeeding keeps your breast milk supply high enough to meet your baby’s needs. A baby who suddenly wants to nurse “constantly” may go through a growth spurt and signal to mom to “send more milk!” in the most efficient way possible. Or maybe he’s teething or otherwise not feeling well.
Think about how you would feel if someone told you not to comfort your preschooler when he fell and skinned his knee. A baby who uses the breast as a “pacifier” is no different from an older child or a friend who calls you on your shoulder to cry on. It’s called a relationship.
Breastfeeding is also pleasant for babies. Sucking is soothing and regulates the nervous system, and for babies, the best sucking is done at the breast. Babies who are offered a pacifier tend to wean sooner than those who are not.
Frequent breastfeeding is also beneficial for the mother. Certain hormones remain constant in your bloodstream, making you feel calmer, more stress-resistant, and happier. Frequent breastfeeding also keeps fertility at bay, which can be a desirable side effect, and protects your health in the long run.
Bottom line? Listen to the baby and your own common sense, and listen less to books and counselors.
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