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Breastfeeding Hints and Hurdles

Breastfeeding has many health benefits for you and your baby. Don’t worry if your first experience is not as perfect as you expect. These tips can answer some of the most common breastfeeding questions.

Health benefits for baby:
-Breastfeeding creates a special, close, emotional bond
– It provides essential, balanced nutrients
– It is cost-effective
– It offers short and long-term health benefits for babies. The protection that a mother’s breast milk provides is specific to her baby and actually changes to meet her baby’s needs. Because breast milk contains hormones and cells that fight germs, breastfeeding helps protect infants from many health problems, including respiratory illness, ear infections, gastrointestinal disease, asthma, obesity and allergies.

Health benefits for mothers
Breastfeeding offers health benefits for mothers. Breastfeeding is linked to:
Lower rates of breast cancer and other illnesses
Aids in post-pregnancy weight loss.

Does Your Diet Affect Your Milk?
What you eat has an impact on your breast milk, but usually not as much as most new moms think. In general you can eat and drink what you like, as long as you’re going for a healthy, balanced diet.
But stay away from very spicy or gas-producing foods and pay attention to any allergy symptoms in your baby. It should appear in the first 4 to 6 weeks. Talk to your baby’s doctor in case you are unsure.
Check this article to know more about nutrition during lactation.

Can You Smoke or Drink during Breastfeeding?
It’s best to avoid smoking and drinking during breastfeeding.
Smoking exposes your baby to nicotine and other toxic chemicals. It can as well decrease your milk supply. It’s been shown to increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and respiratory allergies.
Alcohol can pass through breast milk too and can affect your baby’s development. While the American Academy of Pediatrics states that an occasional beer or glass of wine is OK, wait at least 2 hours before nursing.

How Often Will Your Baby Nurse?
Newborns have to nurse every 2 to 3 hours. That’s 8 to 12 times in 24 hours. And sometimes a baby might nurse even more frequently. Your little one may nourish from both breasts during one nursing session. You know he is full when sucking has slowed or he turns away. After the first month, feedings may begin to decrease to 7 to 9 times a day.

Should You Wake Baby to Nurse?
Yes, in the first weeks. Newborns need to nurse around 8 times a day, with no more than 4 hours between feedings. To aid your baby wake up, try removing blankets, changing your little one’s diaper, massaging him gently, or placing him against your skin.

Should You Use Both Breasts?
After breastfeeding for a few weeks, let your baby drain one breast before switching to the other. That’s because there are two types of milk during each feeding: the thinner milk followed by the creamier, fat-rich milk. Your little one needs both. In case your baby finishes only the first breast during a feeding, give him the other breast at the next feeding.

Is Baby Drinking Enough?
As long as your baby is gaining about half a kilo a month, nursing every 2 to 3hours, and has about 6 to 8 wet diapers a day, you can feel sure he’s eating all his needs. Sometimes, by the second month, some babies no longer need night feedings, and may even sleep all night.

Are You Suddenly Nursing More?
Don’t worry, these super hungry periods are temporary and your body will produce more milk. Growth spurts generally hit around the baby’s second week, then again at 2, 4, and 6 months. You can start introducing solid food to your baby between four and six months.

Bonding Without Breastfeeding
Remember breastfeeding is just one way to bond with your baby. The connection between parent and child grows every time you embrace and cuddle your infant, each time you sing and talk to him, and with every bath and playtime.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon

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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian