Breastfeeding 101: The Golden Age of Breastfeeding
If you want to give breastfeeding an honest shot, I recommend making a goal of 2-3 months. Many first time moms go in with six month or 1-year goals and I think it's great to stick it out for the long haul, but during the early weeks it may be so overwhelming to imagine another year of this that you will be tempted to quit. On the other hand, most of us can handle a couple of months of anything. Heck, my morning sickness lasted longer than that!
Then, after 2-3 months, you can decide if you want to set a new goal. I bet you won't want to quit. It's the golden age. Your baby's a little older, your supply is established, you've gotten over the worst growth spurts, and you're probably really starting to feel comfortable with your baby – even bonding.
If that doesn't happen to you, then maybe there are better alternatives for your family. You can feel good that you gave your baby a great start.
Most women really enjoy breastfeeding after 6-8 weeks. I wouldn't set a 6-week goal simply because that is exactly the point when many babies are growth spurting and things have just gotten a little harder before they get easier...MUCH easier!
So what do I mean, easier? Get specific!
Imagine this...your baby's stomach is bigger and he or she can go longer between meals. From 8-12 times a day, you may be looking at more like 6-10. Even better, your baby is more efficient at nursing. (They have to learn this too!) Instead of 30-45 minute feedings, they will gradually get shorter and shorter. At 3 months, it took us 15-20 minutes. By 6 months, 5-10 minutes flat. (both breasts)
(Note: Your baby may do more or less. These are all averages. Continue to feed on demand to ensure your LO is getting enough.)
I can honestly say that at six months, I could nurse my baby before my formula feeding counterparts could warm up a bottle!
It's hard to find information on breastfeeding past 2 months or so. Many books and resources concentrate on getting you through the first few weeks and that makes sense. Most of the issues come up then and most of what goes on afterwards is simply a continuation, with less time spent feeding. There are just a couple of things you need to be aware of...
MY BREASTS NO LONGER FEEL FULL: AM I RUNNING OUT OF MILK?
Almost definitely not. This is actually good news. You don't have to walk around with rocks for breasts for as long as your breastfeed!
The ONLY ways of knowing if your baby is getting enough and if your breasts are producing enough are wet diapers and weight gain. Poopy diapers were never the best sign anyway and they become less so after 6 weeks, when breastfed babies may start pooping once a week or continue pooping several times a day.
Often, somewhere between 3 and 6 months (4 months is a popular number), woman stop feeling as full. This does not mean they are running out of milk – quite the contrary! It means their intelligent breasts have figured out exactly how much milk they need and have stopped producing too much.
SCARED OF TEETH?
Don't be. Babies don't use teeth to get milk our of breasts....they use tongues and lips. If they do bite you, there are correction techniques you can use. If you use them correctly and consistently, you should not have a problem. For that matter, some babies just don't bite. I think mine might have bitten me twice, and I didn't even really do anything to encourage this.
Sometimes, things are going on that make it seem that a baby under a year of age is ready to wean, possibly before mom is ready. Kelly Mom has a great article on this that suggests that babies rarely self-wean before 18 months and almost never before 12. It helps you to determine what else may be going on:
Something that does happen before 12 months that you may not have heard of us called a NURSING STRIKE. If this happens to you, here are some great tips to get through it. It's not incredibly common, but it's common enough that I want to bring the concept to your attention and help you understand that your baby is probably not ready to wean before 12 months (unless you are).
Your baby will probably not poop as often after 3-6 weeks. This is normal. Some breastfed babies (raises hand) go a week or more between poopies. The reason? Breast milk typically comes with very little waste! They will probably start pooping more when they start solids.
Enjoy this time! There are some things that come up but usually it's much less difficult than the first few weeks. In the next few topics I'll cover solids and weaning...then I'll get into work, life, mastitis, thrush, etc. If there's anything else I missed (experienced mommies chime in) please let me know.
I would like to give a sweet mama from babyfit a special thank you for giving me permission to use her info. Thank you Christine Amsden!! Also, I want to invite you all to look at her new website! www.christineamsden.com
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