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3 Breastfeeding Rules That Are Meant To Be Broken

Breastfeeding advice abounds in parenting magazines, books, websites, and even free booklets from formula manufacturers. Some of the information is contradictory and some of it is just plain false. For instance, here are 3 bad pieces of advice and why they're bound to lead to problems.

1) Only nurse for XXX minutes per side

Fill in the blank here. It may be 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 15 minutes, but breastfeeding mothers are often told to watch the clock instead of watching their baby. Well meaning people (like the labor and delivery nurse who told me this after my oldest was born) say this because they think that soreness has to do with how long or how often baby nurses. It doesn't. Soreness has to do with HOW baby nurses.

So why is this poor advice?

Because babies can't tell time. A newborn may take 15 minutes to nurse on one breast, especially if he's (and you're) still learning the ropes. Don't set a time limit on your newborn's nursings. There is no such thing as non-nutritive sucking. Baby will always be rewarded with ounces or drops of milk for as long as he is at the breast.

In addition, the milk that baby gets at the end of the feeding, after the second letdown, is higher in fat and calories. Limiting time at the breast may, for some babies, lead to slow weight gain, fussiness, excessive gassiness and other problems.

2) Breastfed babies poop every day

While many young breastfed infants do have a dirty diaper every day, many don't. This has lead to much angst of the part of a poor Mom who thinks her baby is starving if he doesn't fill a diaper every day. Remember that breastmilk is digested completely and there is none or little "waste". Sometimes, especially during a period of rapid growth, your baby will skip days inbetween bowel movements. My second child went 8 days without a bowel movement once when he was a newborn, and I was concerned. When he did finally go, he made up in quantity what he lacked in frequency. If memory serves, several loads of laundry were needed to clean up the resulting mess!

If your baby is producing plenty of wet diapers, has no signs of dehydration and is gaining weight according to schedule, he's probably fine. The consistency of his movements rather than the frequency is a more accurate sign of constipation. Keep in mind that totally breastfed infants do not get constipated. If a baby who is eating some solids struggles to pass a hard stool, call your doctor or a breastfeeding consultant. And don't limit his time at the breast.

3) Don't let him use you for a pacifier

This is another well intentioned piece of advice in which the advice giver tries to lighten the load of the breastfeeding mother, but it betrays a lack of understanding of the breastfeeding relationship.

Breastfed infants do not just nurse when they are hungry. They also nurse when they are thirsty, tired, over-stimulated, scared, hurt, coming down with an illness, lonely or bored. And that's ok. Frequent nursing keeps a mother's milk supply at a high level to meet baby's needs. A baby who suddenly wants to nurse "constantly" may be going through a growth spurt and is signaling to Mom to "send more milk!" in the most effective way possible. Or he may be teething or otherwise not feeling well. Think about how you might feel if someone said that you shouldn't comfort your preschooler when they fell down and skinned their knee. A baby who uses the breast as a "pacifier" is no different that that older child, or a friend who calls you for a shoulder to cry on. It's called relationship.

Nursing is also pleasurable for babies. Sucking is a comfort and regulates the nervous system, and for the young infant, the best kind of sucking is the kind that takes place at the breast. Babies who are offered pacifiers tend to wean earlier than babies who don't take them.

Frequent nursing also has benefits for Mom. Levels of certain hormones are kept constant in her bloodstream, helping her to feel calmer, more impervious to stress, and happier. Frequent nursing also tends to keep fertility away, which may be a desirable side effect and also protects her health long term.

The bottom line? Listen to the baby and your own common sense, and listen less to the books and advice givers.

Submitted by:

Carrie Lauth

For more breastfeeding advice that will help you nurse your baby for a year (or longer!) visit http://www.TheHappyBreastfeeder.com Your breastfeeding days will be over before you know it. Life's too short to wear an ugly nursing bra http://www.SexyNursingBra.com




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