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Breastfeeding during the first weeks

Breastfeeding can be challenging during the first few weeks of life. Newborns nurse quite frequently during this period, often every one to two hours. Make sure you have supportive family members who can help you. Your goal as a nursing mother should be only to feed your baby and sleep when the baby sleeps. All the other tasks will have to wait or be delegated to your spouse or trusted friend/family members. Some dads worry that they will be “left out” when a mom is nursing the baby. Remind dad that he can perform all the other tasks of infant care and help by supporting you while you nourish your infant in the best possible way.

Be sure that you make a follow-up visit with your pediatrician within one to two days after you get home from the hospital. Keep track of how often your baby eats, wets his or her diaper and has bowel movements. Bowel movements at this time are likely transitioning from the greenish tar-like meconium to yellow seedy breast milk stool. At this time, infants will have three or more stools a day and wet their diaper frequently, about every four to six hours. These may be less frequent if you have been discharged from the hospital before your milk comes in.

Try to continue to avoid using a pacifier or bottle for the first two weeks of life. The more a baby nurses, the better your milk supply will be. A baby can get confused by the different tongue and mouth movements needed for breastfeeding versus sucking on a pacifier or bottle nipple. If your baby is crying and needs a pacifier, he or she is probably hungry and needs to be nursing.

Call your physician or pediatrician if:

  • You run a fever or have breast pain, redness or swelling. Pain with nursing is not normal.
  • Your baby doesn’t seem to want to eat, is excessively sleepy or doesn’t have frequent bowel movements or wet diapers.

Use the lactation resource numbers that you were given upon discharge from the hospital to help you. Remember, all questions are important when it comes to your baby’s care.

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