Coping with Obstacles
Anticipating possible problems will help get you and your
baby off to a better beginning. For starters, know your hospital's policy
regarding breastfeeding and the availability of resources for breastfeeding.
Here are some important questions to ask:
- Can your baby room with you or does she have to stay in a group nursery?
Research has shown that infants who room with their mothers have less incidence
of jaundice and breastfeed more often and for a longer duration.
- Does the hospital assume that it is okay to offer formula to all babies
regardless of the mother's wishes? Make sure your hospital knows whether or not
you want to breastfeed exclusively.
- What resources can your ob-gyn's office or pediatrician's office provide?
Will a lactation consultant be on hand? Will someone be available to answer
questions by telephone?
The AAP and other experts recommend doing the following to
help you and your baby ease into a successful breastfeeding relationship:
- Begin breastfeeding your baby as soon as possible after birth, preferably
within the first hour, when the baby is most alert and eager to suckle.
Breastfeeding in the first hours not only allows you to begin bonding with your
baby right away, but also helps to release the hormone oxytocin in your body,
which helps the uterus to release the placenta.
- Ask that such procedures as vigorous suctioning of the baby's mouth --
which can result in the baby experiencing painful swallowing and therefore
interfere with breastfeeding -- be avoided. Also, ask that certain procedures,
such as shots and getting blood drawn, not conflict with your baby's eating
schedule. Having a traumatic experience just before breastfeeding can
negatively affect your baby's breastfeeding experience.
- Breastfeed on demand, whenever your baby shows signs of hunger, preferably
before she starts crying. An exception to this is during your baby's first
week, when to feed her you will often have to wake her; newborns must feed at
least eight to 12 times in 24 hours. Otherwise, during the first months of life
do not restrict feeding or put your baby on a set schedule.
- Monitor your baby's diaper output to know whether you're feeding him
frequently enough. Babies should have up to six wet diapers per day by day 3 of
life, according to Dr. Wendy Slusser, director of the Breastfeeding Resource
Program at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Public Health.
Put a piece of paper towel in the diaper to be sure the diaper gets wet -- it's
hard to determine this with the hyper-absorbent diapers made these days. Your
baby should have one bowel movement on day 1 of life; two on day 2; and three
or more bowel movements on day 3 of life. Bowel movements should be getting
yellow and seedy by day 3.
- Slusser also recommends that you learn from the hospital staff what
swallowing during breastfeeding sounds like, so that you can gage whether your
baby is actually feeding or just sucking.
- If you are discharged from the hospital before 48 hours after delivery, see
a doctor or nurse practitioner within two to four days so that he or she can
address any problems you might be having.
- Use lanolin and breast shields if you develop sore nipples. A recent study
from the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine reported that
breastfeeding moms with sore nipples healed more quickly when they used lanolin
and breast shields as opposed to absorbent bandages.
Finally, don't hesitate to ask for help from
family and friends during this exciting but exhausting time in your