Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Edition of Kindle Book is Available!

Check out the new, updated Jessica on Babies Breastfeeding FAQ, available for Kindle from Amazon.com. Makes a great new-mom gift or a quick purchase just before (or just after) you have your own baby. At $1.99, you get Jessica's basic breastfeeding advice in the palm of your hand, accessible any time and anywhere you need it.

Some sample questions and answers from the book:

What is the most important piece of advice you would give a new mother about breastfeeding?

The first thing I would say to any new mother is, “Keep nursing!” The more you nurse, the easier it gets, and the more you nurse, the more milk you make. You’ll often hear “breastfeeding is normal” or “breastfeeding is natural,” which is true, but it’s important to remember that breastfeeding is a skill that must be learned and practiced, by both mother and baby. Just like with any skill, the more you do it, the better at it you get. When my first son was born, I was so convinced that breastfeeding was natural and instinctive that I was very discouraged by how complicated it all seemed. I felt like I needed three or four hands. When my second son was born, despite all the reading I had done, it still took several weeks for me to find comfortable positions and the easiest way to get him latched on and sucking as quickly as possible. As awkward as you may feel in the first few weeks, you’ll find it getting easier by the day if you just keep at it. The third time around, I knew things would get better, but the first three days or so were very hard; he would scream every time I unlatched him from my breast. I had to keep reminding myself that the more he nursed, the better things would get. Sure enough, by the end of the third day, he became a much more content baby, and I was able to settle into a more comfortable nursing routine.

The second basic piece of advice I always offer is, “Give it six weeks.” The first few days and weeks can be challenging, and even painful, as you adjust to having a new baby and all the new demands placed on you by this change in your life. If you persevere through the first six weeks, nursing on demand, getting used to the baby’s cues and needs, it only gets easier. I’ve seen new mothers go from “Why is this so hard? I don’t want to do this anymore!” to “Oh yeah, I think I’ll nurse for at least a year,” in the space of just those few weeks. There’s something about that six-week point after which everything starts to seem easier. Also, as the baby grows, breastfeeding gets easier just because the baby’s mouth gets bigger, his neck is stronger, and he is more able to support himself. If you stick it out for those first six weeks and put in the work at the beginning, you’ll be able to continue your breastfeeding relationship for as long as you and your child desire.

I heard that giving a bottle of formula before bed, or adding rice cereal to the bottle, will help my baby sleep better and longer. Should I try this?

It is not a good idea to offer anything but breastmilk to your baby before six months of age. Remember that your milk supply is governed by the baby’s demand. If you give a bottle or other food instead of nursing the baby from the breast, you are telling your body that your baby doesn’t need milk at that time. This can cause your milk supply to drop, requiring that you continue to give your baby a bottle, which can cause your milk supply to drop further. It’s a vicious cycle that is difficult to get out of. 

There is no evidence that giving a bottle of formula at bedtime will help your baby sleep better at night. There is mounting evidence that doing so may be harmful to your milk supply as well as possibly contributing to postpartum depression or other maternal health issues. Recent studies show that mothers who breastfeed exclusively in the early months feel happier and better rested than those who attempt to supplement with formula in order to get more sleep. My sons woke frequently to nurse, and it was much easier just to pull the baby to my breast and go back to sleep than it would have been to get up and prepare a bottle for him. My husband and I were both much more sleep-deprived with our first son, who was formula-fed, than we were with our breastfed babies.
As for adding rice cereal to a bottle, or giving any other kind of solid (non-breastmilk) food to a young baby, this is highly discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and many other groups. It is recommended that you do not feed any foods or liquids except breastmilk to an infant under six months of age, unless under a doctor’s direction for a medical reason. Putting rice cereal in a bottle is also a choking risk. 

Also, giving a bottle in the early weeks of life may have a negative effect on the baby’s desire to latch properly on your breast (see “Should I give my baby a bottle?” below for more on bottles).

My nipples are bleeding. What do I do?

For short-term care, squeeze a little milk from your breast after a feeding and apply it to the bleeding nipple. Breastmilk has healing properties that will help the nipple heal faster and prevent infection. You may also purchase pure lanolin (usually found under the brand name Lansinoh) to apply to your nipples after a feeding. Lanolin is safe to leave on when your baby is ready to eat again and will soothe your nipples and help them heal. However, bleeding nipples are typically a sign of a bad latch or other feeding problem, and you shouldn't hesitate to contact a lactation consultant if the problem doesn’t resolve within a few days. 

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