One of your most important decisions is how you will feed your baby.
As a mother, you have a very special gift that only you can give your baby: breast milk. Breast milk is the best food for your baby because it gives the baby the best possible start in life.
Why Is Breastfeeding Best For Babies?
Why Is Breastfeeding Best For Mothers?
How Often Should I Breastfeed My Baby?
Babies stomachs are very small, so they need to be filled often. You should feed your baby whenever she is hungry. Newborn babies need to breastfeed eight to 12 times in each 24-hour period. Older babies and toddlers may breastfeed less often.
How Do I Know My Baby Is Getting Enough Breast Milk?
How Long Should I Breastfeed?
For the first months, babies only need breast milk. By six months most babies are ready for solid food in addition to breast milk. Some babies may be ready earlier. Talk to a public health nurse or your baby's doctor to find out when is the best time to introduce solid foods to your baby. Starting solid foods is not a sign to stop breastfeeding. When you give your baby some solid foods, she still needs breast milk. Breast milk is easier than cows milk to digest, and your breast milk will continue to help your child fight infection. You can continue to breastfeed as long as you and your child are both comfortable.
What Should I Do When I Have Problems?
Breastfeeding is natural but not always easy. Both mothers and babies need to learn how together.
For some women and some babies, breastfeeding doesn't happen easily. If you have a problem, be sure to get help right away. Don't give up if you can't do it right at first or if it is uncomfortable for you. Almost all breastfeeding problems can be solved with some advice.
A public health nurse, your midwife, a breastfeeding expert (called a lactation consultant), or a La Leche League leader can help you with any problems or questions. You can also ask other women in your life who are breastfeeding for support and advice. (See the chapter called Find help in your community, starting on page 162, for phone numbers.)
What About When I Have To Go Back To Work Or School?
Although some mothers have long maternity leaves, many need to go back to work or school before they've finished breastfeeding.
If you have to leave your baby with someone else during the day, you don't have to stop breastfeeding. With some planning, patience and help, you can keep feeding your baby with breast milk — the perfect food.
All you need to do is learn to express your breast milk. Then your partner, the baby's father, the baby's grandparents or a sitter can give it to your baby when you are not there.
You can also breastfeed your baby yourself when you are home, for example, before you go to work or school and in the evening.
You can express milk with your hands or with a breast pump, and the caregiver can feed the baby with a cup, a spoon or a bottle. The baby should be given this breast milk as often as when she would breastfeed.
Ask a public health nurse, lactation consultant, midwife or a La Leche League leader about how to express and store your breast milk, and how to warm it up properly before feeding.
Some babies who get a bottle too early seem to get confused. Because they have to suck differently from a bottle than from a breast, they can become less willing to breastfeed. This is why it is best not to use a bottle for at least the first few months.
What Can Others Do To Help
Sometimes fathers and other close family members feel left out because they cannot feed the baby. Even though the mother and baby have a close relationship because of breastfeeding, this doesn't mean that a baby can't develop close relationships with other people too.
These people can cuddle your baby and take care of her in other important ways such as diapering, bathing and bedtime.
It's important to understand how important breastfeeding is. The understanding and support a mother gets from her partner and others makes a very big difference in making sure that breastfeeding works.
What About Formula Feeding?
Most women are able to breastfeed their babies, with some practice and help. If you are not able to breastfeed (such as women who are HIV-positive), the next best thing is iron-fortified formula.
Talk with your doctor about what kind of formula to feed your baby. Formula comes in three different forms: liquid ready-to-feed, liquid concentrate and powder.
Find out how much you should give the baby and how often. Remember, the baby's bottles must be washed and completely sterilized for the first four months. Sterilizing is very important because it kills the germs that could make the baby sick.
Ask a nurse to explain exactly how to wash and sterilize your bottles, nipples, nipple covers, measuring spoons and mixing jars. Also ask a nurse to explain exactly how to heat the formula, how to store the formula, and when to throw it away. The instructions are very different for each kind, so be sure to follow the directions very carefully. If you make a mistake mixing the formula, it could make your baby very sick. EY
For more information call:
La Leche League Canada