In this age of information, separating facts from myths can be a challenge for anyone.
In this age of information, separating facts from myths can be a challenge for anyone. This can cause confusion for expectant and new parents who have many decisions to make, not the least of which is how to feed their baby.
Fact: Newborns need to eat often - at least every 2 to 3 hours
Newborns need to feed at least every 2 to 3 hours because their stomachs are small. A day-old baby’s tummy can hold about 5-7 ml (1-2 tsp) of milk; by 3 days 22-30 ml (.75-1 oz); and by 7 days 22-60 ml (1.5-2 oz). So, it doesn’t take a lot to fill their tummies and their tummies need to be filled often because they empty often. As your baby gets older, feeding tends to be more like every 3 to 4 hours, but will become more frequent again during growth spurts—at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. Breast milk is also very easily digested and with small stomachs baby needs to eat frequently.
Fact: There are ways to determine that your baby is well fed and hydrated.
It’s true that you cannot measure the amount of milk your baby drinks during breastfeeding. But the important thing is recognizing that your baby is well-fed and hydrated. In the first months your baby will:
- Eat every 2 to 3 hours.
- Continuously suck and swallow for at least 10 to 20 minutes during breastfeeding.
- Have at least one wet diaper for each day of age up to 3 days. After day 4, there should be at least 6 to 8 heavy wet diapers each day. A heavy diaper feels like 40-60 ml (2-3Tbsp) of liquid on a cloth or disposable diaper.
- Have at least 2 to 3 stools each day; by day 3 there should be at least 3 stools per day. Some breastfed babies pass stool every time they’re fed, meaning 10 to 12 stools per day, which is normal, too.
- Have a moist look to their mouth - as if they were wet.
If, your baby is not showing these signs, your baby is becoming dehydrated and needs immediate medical attention. Take your baby to the hospital emergency.
Fact: Dry skin, a sunken soft spot on baby’s head and dry mucus membranes are also signs of dehydration.
These are late signs of dehydration in your baby, your baby needs to be in hospital and getting medical care. The soft spot on the top of a well-fed baby’s head should be flat and not sunken. Skin that is dry and does not have much elasticity indicates that your baby is not getting enough fluid. Gently pinch the skin on your baby’s thigh or tummy and let it go: it should lie back down, not remain pinched together. Mucus membranes should be moist or wet.
Fact: Babies under six months do not need baby food.
The recommendations from Health Canada on infant feeding indicate that solid baby food be delayed until your baby is six months old. By six months, your baby’s stores of iron start to diminish. Before six months your baby’s bowels are still maturing and the muscle coordination in your baby’s mouth, head and neck are not developed enough to manage solid food. Giving solid food to early may lead to the development of food allergies and obesity.
Fact: Breastfeeding allows you to bond with your baby.
Breastfeeding is a good way to bond with your baby but it isn’t the only way. Dad or your partner can have the same skin-to-skin contact by placing your baby, dressed only in a diaper, on his bare chest. Include snuggling, talking, singing and reading in your everyday routines with your baby as these are other ways that you and others can use to bond.
Fact: Colostrum is baby’s most important first food.
Colostrum, the yellow or orangey-coloured first milk, is considered the perfect first food for babies. It is easily digested, low in fat, high in carbohydrates, high in proteins and contains antibodies to keep your baby from getting ill. This first milk helps to protect your baby’s tummy and bowels. It also helps her to poo in the first few days after birth and may help prevent jaundice.
Fact: Breastfeeding takes time for you and baby to learn.
Although breastfeeding seems like the most natural thing in the world, this doesn’t mean that it will all fall into place naturally for every mom and baby. It is a learned art and it may require time and patience to learn. However, there is a lot of support available to you, beginning with the nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital, to public health nurses and breastfeeding clinics in the community and the La Leche League hotline 24 hours a day. The payoff? Never having to wash, sterilize, prepare, store and transport bottles for the next year. Just breastfeed whenever and wherever your baby needs to feed. What could be easier?
Fact: Small-breasted women are able to breastfeed.
Breast size has nothing to do with a woman's ability to breastfeed. In fact, larger breasts are due to more fat tissue. Breast milk is made by special milk-producing cells, not fat cells.
Fact: Most women make enough milk to breastfeed.
Most women make more than enough milk to breastfeed their babies. Early and ongoing breastfeeding guidance and support can help to avoid poor latching, the main reason for a low milk supply. Short and infrequent breastfeeding may also cause low milk supply. In rare cases, some women have a medical condition and may be unable to breastfeed.
Fact: Women who have flat or inverted nipples are able to breastfeed.
Latching your baby onto the breast may be more of a challenge with a flat or inverted nipple but it is possible. Your baby needs to have as much of the areola, the brown part around your nipple, in her mouth as possible in order to drink your breast milk. So, although your nipple helps to guide this process, it is not absolutely necessary to it. Once the areola is in your baby’s mouth, the nipple will come out as she sucks.
Fact: Breastfeeding should not cause pain.
Although the first weeks of breastfeeding may cause nipple tenderness – after all, this is new – there should be no pain during breastfeeding. Pain is usually the result of an incorrect latch. Correcting the latch should ease the pain. If pain persists during feeding, however, consult your a lactation consultant or your baby’s doctor. A lactation consultant is a specialist in breastfeeding. Some moms and babies share a yeast infection that requires both mom and baby to have treatment.
Fact: Women who have had breast surgery may be able to breastfeed.
A woman’s ability to breastfeed will depend on the type of surgery and the part of the breast that’s involved. For example, if the areola and/or nipple were affected, there is a greater chance of problems with breastfeeding than if the surgery was in a different area of the breast. Speak with the doctor who did the surgery they may help you to understand what part of the breast was affected from the surgery.
Fact: You do not need to wash your nipples before each feeding.
Washing your nipples before feeding your baby is not necessary. Frequent use of soap and water will dry your nipples out. Leaving breast milk on your nipples, on the other hand, protects your baby from infection and promotes healing of any soreness and cracks that may have developed.
Fact: Breastfeeding can be done at anytime, in anyplace and needs no special equipment.
In many ways, breastfeeding is liberating—it can be done anytime, anywhere and without any special equipment. It means you don’t have to clean and prepare bottles, which takes time. It means you can take your baby with you without having to carry formula. It is always at the right temperature, you do not need to worry about having to heat it or find a place to warm your baby’s food. It does mean you are the sole provider of food for your baby for the first 6 months. It all depends on your perspective.
Fact: Mothers are allowed to breastfeed their babies in public.
If you are comfortable breastfeeding your baby in public, there is no reason why you shouldn’t. In fact, it is a human right. This means that breastfeeding moms and babies are welcome to nurse anywhere, anytime. No one can tell them not to breastfeed. Some communities post signs to openly acknowledge that they are breastfeeding friendly.
Fact: Breastfed babies do not need extra fluids, like water and juice, in hot weather.
Breastfed babies do not need any other liquids, even in the summer heat. Breastfeed your baby more frequently to keep her hydrated in hot weather. Other liquids may fill your baby without providing the nutrients that breast milk provides and that your baby needs. It is especially recommended that babies under six months of age not be given juice and water.
Fact: A woman can use breastfeeding to help with child spacing.
This method is known as the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM). Breastfeeding can be used for child spacing but only under the following conditions:
- Your baby is under six months of age
Your baby is exclusively breastfed and you are feeding her at least every 3-4 hours
You have not had a menstrual period.
This is not fool-proof, though. Sometimes, your baby sleeping through the night can have an affect on this method. You may therefore want to use another type of birth control.
Fact: You do not need a special diet if you are breastfeeding.
It is recommended that nursing Moms eat a well-balanced diet, for their own health and for recovery from pregnancy and birth. Your body will produce milk, even if you occasionally consume fewer calories than recommended, provided this is not long-term.
Fact: You do not need to drink milk to breastfeed.
Although milk is a good source of calcium you will continue to make milk, even if you do not drink milk. There are other foods you can eat to obtain calcium. Continue to make sure you are drinking enough fluids during the day. If you are experiencing thirst, you are not taking in enough fluids.
Fact: In most cases you can breastfeed if you are ill.
With the exception of HIV, mom should continue to breastfeed during illness, even if this illness is mastitis. Generally speaking, people are contagious before they actually become ill, so that a baby would have already been exposed. Breast milk contains antibodies and other infection-fighting substances. By continuing to breastfeed your baby, you will continue to pass these on. If your baby becomes ill, chances are the illness will be mild due to the protection that breastfeeding offers.
Fact: You should check if it is safe to take medicine when you are breastfeeding.
There are few medications that may require you to stop breastfeeding. Most medications are not a concern. Check with Motherrisk if you have concerns about any drugs. They have the most current information. Read medication information and consult your pharmacist with any questions or concerns
Fact: Exercise does not affect the breast milk.
Exercise does not affect breast milk in any way. Therefore, you can breastfeed after exercise.
Login or register to post comments
For women who are breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding women may have all-over breast discomfort when their breasts begin to fill with milk, usually between 3 to 5 days after birth. This is usually relieved with breastfeeding. Wearing a good support bra without underwires or a nursing bra will help as well. Sometimes, though, your breasts can become too full of milk or engorged, if the period between feedings is too long or your baby is not drinking enough during feedings. This can be quite painful and if your breasts remain engorged, you may develop an infection of the breasts called mastitis.
Another source of pain for breastfeeding women is a blocked milk duct. This will appear as a tender lump in your breast and, if it is not unblocked, an infection may develop in the milk duct.
Signs of these infections include flu-like symptoms such as fever and/or chills, muscle aches and generally feeling unwell. You should contact your healthcare provider right away, as you will have to treat the infection.
For women who are not breastfeeding:
Women who are not breastfeeding may experience engorged breasts, leaking of breast milk and breast pain. These symptoms may appear between 3-5 days after your baby is born; some women may have breast pain for up to 14 days. Wearing a good support bra without underwires or a good sports bra continuously for the first 72 hours will help. Ice packs that are put on the breast for 15 minutes and left off for 45 minutes may also ease the discomfort. Cool cabbage leaves that are placed around the breast and inside the bra will help with engorged breasts. Talk to your doctor about the use of oral pain medications to ease the breast pain.
Medications to suppress the milk production are no longer recommended due to their side effects.
A common complaint of breastfeeding women is sore nipples. This can happen even with all kinds of breastfeeding help and support. The pain is most pronounced when your baby latches on but should subside a few moments into the feeding. This tenderness usually disappears within the first couple of weeks.
If nipple pain or burning is present all during the feeding, and releasing your baby and re-latching does not improve or eliminate the discomfort, you may have a yeast infection. It is important to see your baby’s doctor, as you will both need medication for treatment. You do not have to stop breastfeeding.
Your nipples should never be cracked and/or bleeding. If they are, you need to consult with a breastfeeding specialist, such as a Lactation Consultant or Public Health Nurse, either at a breastfeeding clinic or at home. They will be able to help you with your baby’s latch and positioning, which will prevent further nipple cracking.
If you're pregnant or thinking about having a baby, check out www.welcometoparenting.com. These interactive, online prenatal and parenting classes will provide information on pregnancy, labour and delivery, your relationship and a community of expectant and new parents just like you! Watch the overview video!
Login or register to post comments
Here is a basic safety checklist for bedrooms. In addition to the points below, be sure to look carefully around your bedroom for yourself, to see if there are any additional actions you can take to safety proof it for you and your child. But begin by making sure that:
- There are no "cute" decorator night lights - they look like toys to be played with.
- Beds and cribs are located away from windows and radiators. Windows can break, and if they are open, children can fall out of the window. Radiators can burn small children.
- Children are not allowed to jump on beds, because they can lose control and be bounced onto the floor or into the corners of hard bedroom furniture.
- Babies should not be placed on waterbeds because little ones do not have the strength to turn their head into a position where they can easily breathe. Babies should not be placed on adult beds to sleep as they may roll or suffocate in the bedding and pillows. The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that a baby sleeps in a safety-approved crib, on their back and close to their parent.
- Pillows are not used for children under two year of age.
More information on safe sleep can be found on Health Canada's Website.
Login or register to post comments
If you’re thinking about breastfeeding your baby you might have questions or concerns and need someone to talk to about these. There are many types of supports available for women who want to breastfeed or are trying to breastfeeding.
Our experts have created a list of some of the types of supports available.
Almost anyone can call themselves a “Lactation Consultant.” However, only Lactation Consultants who have taken specialty courses and written the certification examination of the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants can use the initials IBCLC after their names. This certification is considered the “gold standard” of quality breastfeeding consultation. Some Public Health Nurses, nurse practitioners and midwives are Board certified Lactation Consultants, but physicians and non-health professionals rarely have this certification. An IBCLC certified Lactation Consultant in your area, can be located through the International Lactation Consultants Association.
Individuals who call themselves Breastfeeding Counsellors have usually taken a course in breastfeeding. This course generally covers the practical and theoretical aspects of breastfeeding, on-the-job training and information about consultation. Although this type of course is usually open to anyone, it is mainly taken by Public Health Nurses and midwives. Breastfeeding Counsellors provide support and advice to breastfeeding Mothers through clinics, hospitals or Public Health Units, but may also work through an organization, such as La Leche League, or work as a private business.
Public Health Units
Many Public Health Units provide breastfeeding support, and can visit you at home. These nurses are trained to address breastfeeding issues. For this type of support, contact your local Public Health Unit (the telephone numbers are listed in the government blue pages of your local telephone directory and can be found online).
La Leche League
Formed in the 1950s, this is an international organization providing local, peer support groups for breastfeeding women. They hold monthly meetings and are available for telephone support. The Mothers in this organization can offer you personal and practical experience. Their support materials are written by breastfeeding experts, such as Lactation Consultants, nursing professors and physicians.
General practitioners, family physicians and paediatricians, most often, do not have special training in breastfeeding issues. However, they are trained to refer you to local expert resources in your area to help with any challenges that may come up, and are generally supportive in a team relationship with you and your breastfeeding specialist.
You can expect the staff at the hospital where you have your baby to provide support and advice in helping you initiate breastfeeding. Most hospitals will have a certified Lactation Consultant on staff, so if you are struggling with breastfeeding, ask to speak to the Lactation Consultant.
Breastfeeding centres or clinics are located in and around urban areas. These clinics may be associated with hospitals or with local Public Health Units. Generally, the staff in these clinics includes certified Lactation Consultants, Breastfeeding Counsellors and physicians trained in breastfeeding issues. These centres provide support, advice and treatment to breastfeeding Mothers. To locate a breastfeeding clinic or centre near you, contact your local Public Health Unit.
What supports did you use when you were breastfeeding? What would you recommend to a friend who had questions? Share your experience with other parents just like you by leaving a comment below.
|Ask Our Expert!
Do you still have questions about breastfeeding? Our expert, Attie Sandink, is a Registered Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Ask Attie a Question!
Login or register to post comments
MOST POPULAR STORIES
Read More »
Read More »
Read More »