Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about breastfeeding:
Breastmilk is the ideal nutrition for a baby. Breastfed babies have lower rates of infections asthma and SIDS and lower levels of obesity. Mothers who breastfeed have lower rates of breast cancer among other health benefits.
We monitor the baby’s weight at each visit. Once the mother’s milk comes in normal weight gain averages ½ oz per day or more. Other signs of adequate intake include wet diapers and a transition of the newborn’s stools from dark, thick meconium to yellow and seedy.
We recommend only feeding at the breast until breastfeeding is well established, typically for 3-4 weeks. Introducing the bottle earlier than that can cause nipple confusion, making it harder for the baby to latch and suck at the breast.
Pacifiers can be helpful for those newborns who like to suck for comfort, but they should not be introduced until nursing is well established (3-4 weeks of age) to avoid nipple confusion.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months with introduction of complementary foods at that point and continuation of breastfeeding until at least a year of age. These goals may not be achievable for some women, so we recommend a shorter term initial goal of breastfeeding for the first 2 months to maximize the transfer of antibodies and essential nutrients. Breastfeeding should continue as long as it is mutually desired by the mom and baby. Remember, any breastmilk is beneficial.
Many women are able to express their milk at work to provide bottles for the baby while they are away. Our Lactation Consultant can help you become comfortable with the breast pump and help you plan how to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. Even if you are not able to express milk at work, or cannot express enough to meet your baby’s needs, you can continue to breastfeed during the hours you are at home. Partial breastfeeding is better than not breastfeeding at all.
Breastmilk satisfies a baby’s nutritional needs for the first 6 months of life, so there is no need to begin solid foods prior to 6 months unless the baby does not seem satisfied (not sleeping as long at night or not going as long between feedings). Solid foods, including cereals, should not be given prior to 4 months of age.