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Three Pieces of Breastfeeding Advice to Ignore
“Don’t breastfeed your baby all the time or she will become too dependent. You have to wait and feed your baby every few hours.”
This may be the most damaging breastfeeding advice you will ever hear. Following this advice can not only lead to clogged milk ducts and breast infection, it can sabotage your entire breastfeeding relationship.
In short, don’t do it.
Don’t breastfeed your baby like a bottle. Scheduled feedings apply to formula babies, not nannies. Unlike formula, breast milk is quickly digested and because babies have small stomachs, expect your little one to “gather a feed” for most of the day and night in the early weeks. It is normal for newborns to seem hungry every hour or so for part of the day.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, newborns should be nursed whenever they exhibit hunger signals: rooting, putting hands to mouth, mouthing, fussing or crying, which is actually a late sign of hunger. Listen to them.
Unlike formula, breast milk works according to the law of supply and demand. The more baby nurses, the more milk you will make and vice versa. Babies during scheduled feeding may not nurse enough to build up an adequate milk supply.
And about the line about babies being dependent? Babies are supposed to depend on you. After all, a baby can’t do much for itself. So toss those schedules in the diaper pail.
“Whatever you do, don’t let a baby sleep in your bed.”
While co-sleeping may not be the answer for all families, it can make nighttime breastfeeding (and sleeping) less difficult for parents and babies. Most families around the world sleep next to their babies. The United States is one of the few countries where this act is considered taboo. But why?
According to the Mother-Infant Sleep Behavior Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, babies and mothers who co-sleep get more sleep than those who sleep separately.
But what about long-term negative effects of co-sleeping? Research shows there isn’t. While some parents seem to have an irrational fear of “over-lying”, this simply isn’t a problem unless a parent is under the influence of mind-altering substances – in which case, they shouldn’t be caring for a baby anyway.
In fact, co-sleeping babies tend to have something in common – they thrive – both physically, mentally and intellectually. And they nurse well. Co-sleeping babies tend to eat more at night, conserving mom’s milk supply and promoting natural infant space.
Co-sleeping makes night nursing much easier and is safe, as long as you take some safety precautions and are non-smokers. If baby wakes during the night, all you have to do is roll onto your side and let the nursing begin. Then you can continue sleeping while baby nursed back to sleep.
Ignore those people who say you might roll over on your baby (highly unlikely if you’re sober) or it’s juice. People talk like sleeping next to your baby is a slippery slope – do it once and you’ll never have a child-free bed until the teenage years roll around. But this is not necessarily true. As with everything, do what works in your family’s situation.
“Babies should not breastfeed beyond [six months, one year, etc]. Mothers who breastfeed their infants do so more for themselves than for their babies.”
There is nothing wrong with breastfeeding toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) claims that there is no evidence of psychological or developmental harm in babies who are breastfed for more than one year.
In addition, extended care has many advantages. Research shows that babies over a year old still get large amounts of nutrients from breast milk. Although infants need solid food nutrition, breast milk is still a valuable part of their diet, providing high amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin A, folate, vitamin C and protein. The composition of milk even changes to suit a baby’s growing needs.
Although the sight of nursing infants is not at the forefront of society, extended breastfeeding is not extreme. The AAP recommends breastfeeding for at least one year and longer as mom and child mutually desire and the World Health Organization encourages moms to breastfeed for at least two years.
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