Breastfeeding: Do we really believe breast is best?

Well, we’ve done it again. The media seems to have stirred up another controversy about whether or not breast is really best. With the recent news blitz about a young mother being prosecuted for starving her baby to death, due to an inadequate milk supply, many mothers-to-be are again questioning whether it is really safe to nurse their new babies.

What a shame! A tragedy because of the loss of a baby’s life, the torment of a mother who surely loved her baby and wanted what was best, and also a travesty because we are merely paying lip service to nursing in this country -- not really putting our money where our mouth is.

Agreed, we all say that breast is best. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics came out strongly in support of breastfeeding last year in an exciting new policy statement. But still, new moms are often left out in the cold -- inadequately prepared to nurse their new babies. Mothers of the new millennium may leave the hospital without the most important information they will need in the upcoming weeks -- guidelines to assure them that their nursing baby is getting the milk he or she needs.

Is your baby getting enough milk?

  • How often are you nursing? Newborns need to nurse at least 10 to 12 times in a 24-hour period.
  • Is your baby actively sucking and swallowing throughout the feed? As your milk ejects, you should hear your baby swallowing after every suck, with some pauses in between. Even if your baby nurses frequently, if he or she is not properly accessing your milk it can result in your baby being inadequately nourished.
  • How is your baby’s output? What goes in must come out! Your baby’s output is very important. By day three your baby should be wetting at least six to eight diapers, and having at least two to three bowel movements each day.
  • Is your baby gaining weight normally? Most babies are back to birth weight by their two-week checkup, gaining an average of four to eight ounces a week until three to four months of age.
  • You know your baby best! First and foremost, if you feel that something is wrong, whether it’s "just" a gut feeling or if you have some facts to back it up, make an appointment -- today -- for your baby to be seen by his or her health care provider.
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