Suggestions for Successful Breastfeeding
Lots of people will have advice about how you should breastfeed your infant, and you will need to be selective about what you believe. Not only might the information be incorrect, it might not even be relevant to your specific situation. Asking a health care professional, such as a lactation consultant, or a well-trained member of a support organization such as La Leche League, is the surest way to get good information. If you know a professional who has been involved with breastfeeding her own infant, she is most likely to give you the best advice. Some measures you may find to be successful are:
- Feed your infant on demand, not on a schedule. Early cues that your baby is hungry include the rooting reflex, nuzzling against your breast, opening his mouth wide and looking around, or sucking on his lips, fingers, or hands. Fussing and crying are late hunger cues, and it's best not to wait until your little one reaches this point to nurse.
- Maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of water.
- Don't use a pacifier. A pacifier may interfere with your baby's feeding cues or cause "nipple confusion" if introduced too soon. You may choose to wait to introduce a pacifier until you and your baby have a well-established nursing relationship—some experts suggest after about six weeks.
- Don't supplement with formula.
- Don't supplement with other foods until at least four months (with a pediatrician's recommendation) and preferably not until six months of age. The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months of your baby's life and support for breastfeeding for the first year.
Breastfeeding is the best way to nourish your child. If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding, consult with your doctor, clinic personnel, lactation consultant, other professional, or support organization. Lactation consultants are specifically trained to help women successfully breastfeed their infants.
The La Leche League and other organizations often have local chapters that can provide you with information and advice. Sometimes just a listening ear is all you need, while at other times, you need specific assistance. The sooner you get help, the more likely you are to successfully nurse your little one.