Andi Silverman was a lawyer and journalist. She was an on-air
reporter for the CBS and Fox affiliates in Boston, and is a
graduate of Brown University, the Columbia University Graduate
School of Journalism and the University of Virginia School of
Law. Andi became a mom in September 2004. Still breastfeeding 10
months later, she got pregnant again! Who said breastfeeding was
birth control?! Andi is author of
“Mama Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding” (Quirk
Books 2007), and has written this breastfeeding basics
guide for readers of MetroplexBaby.com and our partner,
BigCityMoms.com. Moms and dads, here's Metroplex Baby's
Parent Guide on
I bet you
have a huge “to do list.” Buy a crib. Install the car
seat. Stockpile diapers and wipes. Get some baby blankets. Yes,
there’s a lot to think about when you’re pregnant, and at times
it’s overwhelming. Rest assured everything will get
done. There is, however, one key thing you should focus on when
you’re pregnant…how you will feed your baby.
to breastfeed or formula feed is a highly personal decision.
Each mom has to do what works best for her and her baby. Some
moms breastfeed. Some use formula. Some do a combination of the
two. There are also moms who feed their babies bottles of pumped
breast milk. It’s truly a matter of personal choice.
before deciding what to do, consider this: the American Academy
of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the
first six months. That means no water, juice, formula or solid
foods. The AAP also recommends breastfeeding (in addition to
solid foods) until the baby is at least one year of age. The
World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two
the reason for all the boob talk. Breast milk is the “gold
standard” for your baby’s health. It has the perfect mix of
antibodies and nutrients for a baby’s development. Research
shows that breastfeeding can protect a baby from a range of
infectious illnesses and diseases such as diarrhea, ear
infections, bacterial meningitis, SIDS, diabetes, obesity,
asthma and some childhood cancers.
wait…there’s more. Breastfeeding is good for your health too.
After your baby is born, it causes uterine contractions that
help your body return to its pre-pregnancy shape. Breastfeeding
also burns calories. (Yes, you can lose weight without putting
on your sneakers!) In addition, research indicates that
breastfeeding can reduce the risk of Type II diabetes, ovarian
and breast cancers and possibly osteoporosis.
If you do
decide to breastfeed, you need to get off to a good start. Right
there in the delivery, put the baby to your breast. Babies have
a “rooting reflex” that causes them to make sucking motions and
turn towards your breast. But they do need guidance. It’s up to
you to make sure your baby is “latched on” well. Her mouth
should open wide and take in as much of the areola (the dark
area) as possible. If you need help, get guidance from an expert
such as a nurse, lactation consultant, doctor or midwife.
birth, and that first feeding, the marathon begins. Newborns eat
around the clock, every two to three hours. So, if your baby ate
from 9 a.m. to 9:30, the next feeding starts at 11:00. Of
course, this is a rough estimate. Sometimes babies eat more
frequently. Sometimes less frequently. As your baby gets
older, feedings are generally every three to four hours. Experts
recommend feeding your baby “on demand,” or whenever she asks
for it, even if she just ate. So watch for feeding cues. If
she’s crying, fussing, rooting, licking her lips or sucking her
fist, she may be hungry.
So how do
you know if your baby is getting enough to eat? First of all,
her pediatrician will check her growth. If she’s gaining weight,
then she’s probably doing just fine. You might also keep a log
of how often she eats, urinates and has bowel movements.
Newborns eat eight to twelve times per day. They can poop three
to four times and pee five to eight times.
newborn is really sleepy, and not waking up on her own to eat,
you’ll need to wake her up. Making her stick to a feeding
schedule not only ensures that she is getting enough to eat; it
also helps establish your milk supply. Breast milk operates on a
supply and demand principle. The more the baby sucks and
swallows, the more milk you make. For this reason, it’s also
important to feed the baby from both breasts. You can switch
sides during one feeding, or alternate sides for every feeding.
breastfeeding a breeze or a challenge? The experience is
different for everyone. While breastfeeding is what nature
intended us to do, it doesn’t always come naturally. In the
worst-case scenario, a mom can get sore nipples, engorged
breasts, plugged ducts, a yeast infection or mastitis. At the
first sign of ANY problem, get help as quickly as possible. The
longer you wait, the worse the problem can get. A lactation
consultant is usually the best person to contact for advice. You
can find an LC through the hospital, your doctor, or even The
International Lactation Consultant Association (www.ilca.org).
You might also want to contact your local La Leche League
chapter to find a breastfeeding support group.
if you’re planning to go back to work? If you want to continue
to breastfeed despite having to go to an office, this will
probably mean pumping milk while at work. A babysitter can then
give your baby the milk in a bottle the following day. Finding a
private place to pump at work is sometimes difficult, so talk to
your boss about your plans.
Eventually, you may start to contemplate weaning. Once again,
when to wean is a matter of personal choice. Some moms continue
to nurse their children well into toddler-hood. The big question
though, is how to wean.
important thing is to wean gradually, and not quit cold turkey.
Drop one feeding at a time. Stick with a new schedule for at
least a few days, before cutting out another feeding. In order
to drop a feeding, shorten the feeding time until it gradually
disappears. You can also try the “don’t offer, don’t refuse”
principle. In other words, only feed the baby when she asks for
it. You can try to distract her by playing, taking a walk or
snuggling. Finally, someone other than you may try to give the
baby a bottle. A baby under one year of age should have formula.
A baby who is older than 12 months can have cow’s milk. But
check with the pediatrician before making any changes.
support system is perhaps the greatest key to breastfeeding
success. In addition to a lactation consultant, talk to other
moms one on one, in a support group or an Internet chat group.
And ultimately, remember that whether you breastfeed for one
day, one week, one month or one year, you will be the center of
your baby’s universe.
Andi Silverman is the author of “Mama
Knows Breast: A Beginner’s Guide to Breastfeeding,” (Quirk Books
2007). She also runs the blog