Friday, 30 December 2011

Timeline of a Breastfed Baby

All babies reach milestones on their own developmental timeline. A multitude of factors influence the rate of each baby’s individual growth such as genetics, form of delivery, gestation at delivery, medical issues, effectiveness of the placenta prior to delivery, and so on.

However there is a persistent and understandable demand from first-time mothers for information on what is considered ‘the norm’. This is particularly so with breastfeeding, as understanding breastmilk intake is more complex than looking at the oz mark on a bottle. This is a topic rife with large-scale confusion, especially as breastfeeding mothers are in the minority and can often find themselves, and their health workers, comparing their baby with formula-fed babies.

Breastfed babies are not the same as formula fed babies. One is fed the milk of its own species; the other is fed the milk of an entirely different species, so it is unsurprising that stark differences can be observed.

What follows is a timeline detailing the journey of the average breastfed baby. I hope it will prove to be a useful and reassuring tool for new mothers.

At Birth:
  • Given enough uninterrupted time skin-to-skin, your baby may move towards your breast and begin feeding without assistance.
  • The first feed helps to stabilise baby’s blood sugars and protect baby’s gut (NCT).
  • Most babies will nurse better at this time than they will for the next couple of days. Take advantage of this. “A full-term healthy newborn's instinct to breastfeed peaks about 20 to 30 minutes after birth if he is not drowsy from drugs or anesthesia given to his mother during labour and delivery” (La Leche League). Breastfeeding in the delivery room or the recovery room after a caesarean section lays the hormonal groundwork for your future supply of mature milk.
  • If you experience greater than expected blood loss while giving birth or have retained placenta inside your uterus after birth, this can lead to milk supply problems.
  • Make sure that the midwives are aware that no formula is to be given to your baby unless strictly necessary and not without your consent.
  • Your baby will be weighed following his birth.
  • Your baby's first feeds are about quality, not quantity. At the moment, and for the first few days after birth, your breasts are producing small quantities of colostrum (about 3-4 teaspoons daily). This is a concentrated clear yellow secretion which is high in protein, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, as well as antibodies that protect your baby from bacterial and viral illnesses.
  • Because they don't know how to breastfeed efficiently yet, newborns sometimes nurse for fifteen or twenty minutes (Gonzalez 2014).
  • As your baby's mouth is so small at this age, you may need to squeeze your breast (think of holding a sandwich) so that your baby can latch on to the nipple more easily. Once your baby is latched, you can let go.
  • Your newborn should not go longer than three hours between feedings. However you may find that he is very sleepy for the first few days and may not be interested in feeding. If this happens, you will need to wake him up. Undressing him and giving skin to skin contact will help wake him up and encourage him to feed.
  • As you feed, the hormone oxytocin will help your uterus regain its tone after birth. This process also protects against excessive bleeding as you recover from childbirth. You may feel mild menstrual-like cramps whilst your uterus shrinks.

Day 1:
  • During your baby's first 24 hours, he might wet his nappy only once or twice (Fredregill 2004). This is because the colostrum you produce is highly digestible and perfect nutrition for your baby, so there's not much left to eliminate. 
  • Over the next 24 hours, your baby will begin to increase their hunger so they are having eight to twelve feedings per 24 hours. Many babies will feed more frequently than this and it may seem as though your baby is insatiable. This is because his stomach is so small it gets full very quickly and empties very quickly. Feeding frequently is also essential to build up your milk supply, so feed on demand rather than clock watching.
  • Most newborns require 10 to 45 minutes to complete a feeding (Murkoff. S).
  • It can take a week or two for your letdown reflex to work in sync with your baby. Until then it's likely to be erratic (Rapley and Murkett 2012). Offering your baby a chance to feed whenever you notice a tingling sensation or a sudden leakage of milk will help it begin to work more reliably.
  • Expect at least one or two wet nappies each day for the first few days after birth. It may be difficult to tell if a nappy is wet at this early stage, and it is normal to find pink crystal-like stains. If you are finding it difficult to judge if your baby’s nappy is wet, try putting a cotton ball in the nappy. When your baby urinates, the cotton ball will feel very wet.
  • During this period, your baby’s mouth is acutely sensitive to any stimulation. A dummy, bottle, or sucking on your finger stimulates your baby’s mouth differently than your nipple. A newborn can easily become accustomed to this overstimulation of the tongue and hard palate. “Confusion can occur after just one exposure to a bottle or dummy” (Rubin. S). Therefore try to avoid or delay your baby’s contact with non-breast suckling until he is at least 6 weeks old.
  • These first two weeks are crucial for breastfeeding. Frequent and effective feeding during this time primes milk-making cells, laying the foundation for optimum milk production. In many cases where breastfeeding goes wrong, the problem can be traced to this very early period (Rapley and Murkett 2012).

Day 2:
  • Expect at least two wet diapers today (Rapley and Murkett 2012).
  • From now onwards your baby should be producing at least two teaspoon-sized poos (or larger) per day (Rapley and Murkett 2012).  
  • Most babies (whether breastfed or not) will have a small amount of jaundice, which starts after the first 24 hours of birth, reaches a peak around day 3 or 4, and then gradually fades over the next week.
  • Frequent breastfeeding or pumping during these crucial days after birth awaken receptors sensitive to the hormone prolactin, a key player in the production of mature breast milk. If you become separated from your baby or your baby is unable to breastfeed, then pump your breasts with an electric breast pump every three hours. Pumping will send your body the message that you intend to breastfeed.
  • You may have heard the mantra: "If it hurts, you're doing it wrong". Whilst agonising pain indicates a problem and should receive immediate attention, a moderate level of discomfort is normal during these early days as your breasts adjust to being suckled. You should feel a gentle tug that will take some getting used to.
  • It is not unusual for a newborn to suck for a very long time.
  • Your baby's bowel movements will now change to a greenish-brown colour and will look like thick pea soup. He will pass two to three stools per day. If your baby has not had a movement by the end of today, your doctor should be notified (Spock 2004).

Day 3:

  • Feel that you are having a tough time? You’re not alone. In a recent Pediatrics study, three days after giving birth, 92 percent of new mothers say they were having problems breastfeeding. Half of the mothers reported problems with getting the baby to latch on to the breast, or other feeding issues like nipple confusion. And 44 percent said pain was a problem. A further 40 percent said they felt that they weren't producing enough milk (Pediatrics 2013). But remember, these are maternal perceptions and most likely not reflections of the physiological reality. If you find yourself in the majority of moms and feel you are having problems, please do contact La Leche League.

Quote from Attachment Mummy

"This is a radical, controversial and provocative book which will challenge every pre-conceived notion you have about breastfeeding, even if you are already pro, but it should be required reading for all women - and men"

Day 4:
  • By now you will have given your baby his first - and easiest - "immunisation" (antibody-rich colostrum) and helped to get his digestive system running smoothly.
  • Your baby will be weighed again around this point, probably at home by your midwife. He may lose between 8 and 10 per cent of his original birth weight, as he adjusts to the sudden loss of his beloved placenta. Breastfed babies, who have consumed only teaspoons of colostrum, generally lose more than bottlefed babies (Murkoff. H). This weight loss is quite normal and expected, and you should see your baby start to gain weight soon. Babies who weight more at birth may lose up to 14 or 15 per cent. High weights at birth can be due to water retention, and the excess weight is got rid of through the urine; these babies lose more weight and take longer to put it back on (Gonzalez 2014). Remember also that in the first few days your baby may be weighed on several different sets of scales, which can all give subtly different readings.
  • Also around this time, your milk will ‘come in’ and you may find yourself with the infamous ‘melons’ – aka your breasts swelling and becoming engorged and warm. Overabundance at this time is normal as your body learns to predict exactly how much milk your baby needs (note that if you had a c-section or are diabetic, your milk may come in a few days later than this). The engorgement usually settles down within 24-48 hours. As your baby starts to feed regularly your body will adapt to producing the right quantities of milk to nourish him. Engorgement is more uncomfortable for some women than for others and is typically more pronounced with first babies. With subsequent babies, engorgement may occur sooner. You may wish to apply chilled cabbage leaves to ease engorgement, however limit use to 20 minutes, no more than 3 times per day, as cabbage can decrease milk supply.
  • It is important once your milk does come in that your breasts are regularly emptied in order to stimulate and ensure a good supply of milk. 
  • Check your breasts for blocked ducts which are more likely to occur around this time. Try to avoid wearing a bra during this short engorgement phase if possible as a bra may compress your breasts and make swelling worse.
  • The colour of your early milk will gradually shift from yellow to white. At the moment your creamy transitional milk contains high levels of fat, lactose, vitamins and more calories than the colostrum. The photo bellow shows colostrum on the left expressed on day 4, and on the right is breastmilk expressed on day 8.
  • In these early days you may feel your baby's feeding pattern is quite unpredictable, but go with it. Feed him when he wakes, for as long as he wants, until he literally drops off.
  • On average, feedings will take about 15-20 minutes on each side, although variations are normal. Like adults, babies can be fast or slow eaters. Flow can also vary among mothers: some have a fast flow or milk, while others have a slower flow, making feeding last longer.
  • Your baby may take only one side at a time but it is wise to offer both.
  • If you are not happy with how things are going, get help early. It's easier to correct problems early than to be re-building a milk supply next week. I recommend speaking over the phone with a La Leche League leader or attending a La Leche League meeting.
  • As a result of your milk coming in your baby will start passing soft mustard-yellow stools (or orange and even green can be normal). At this stage at least one nappy per day should be full of poop and a mess to clean up. This ‘explosive poo’ phase will continue for a few more weeks.
  • Whereas in the past few days it may have been difficult to tell that your baby’s nappy is wet, now his nappies should be undeniably wet, however the urine should have no strong colour or smell. 
  • Your baby should be producing at least six pale yellow wees every day (Rapley and Murkett 2012). 
  • Most babies of this age spend an average of 187 minutes per day nursing during their first two weeks of life (Fredregill 2004).
  • Smaller babies tend to eat more frequently than bigger babies (Spock 2004).
  • You may now be feeding around a dozen times over 24 hours. Soon, you will build up to around 20 minutes per feed every two to four hours. Fear not. This frequency is only temporary, and as your milk supply increases and your baby gets bigger, the breaks between feedings will get longer. Mothers who are particularly anxious to make a success of breastfeeding are apt to feel disappointed by this frequency on the assumption that it means the breastmilk supply is inadequate. This is incorrect. The baby has now settled down to the serious business of eating and growing and is providing the breasts with the stimulation they must have if they are to meet the increasing demands. 

Day 5:
  • Feeling tired? Night time waking is the result of healthy biology. During these early weeks breastfed babies are hungrier at night than during the day. Your newborn’s hunger naturally corresponds to the rise of your breastfeeding hormones after midnight. These late-night feedings serve to help you to build a strong milk supply. Over time, the situation will evolve, and your baby will sleep more at night and be awake for more hours during the day.
  • The frequency of your baby's feeds is likely to reach a peak today. After this, things will gradually settle into a pattern. Some feeds will be long, others just snacks (Rapley and Murkett 2012).
  • Your nipples may be slightly sensitive during these first few days - a few seconds of 'ouch' at the beginning of a feed isn't unusual - but that's all. After that, the feed should be pain free. This preliminary soreness should resolve itself by day 10. Pain that makes breastfeeding intolerable and /or cracked and bleeding nipples are never normal and needs immediate attention from a health professional familiar with breastfeeding management.
  • During these early days you may find relatives and other well-wishers offering to “take the baby off you while you rest/ buy groceries/ get on with the housework”. What would be more helpful however would be to hear: “let me do some housework for you while you get on with nursing and bonding with your baby”. For a not-so-subtle hint, print THIS and put it on your fridge or in another prominent place.
  • You may notice your baby has a 'nursing blister' on their top lip. These are painless blisters that often form on a baby's lips in the early days and weeks of breastfeeding. They are a harmless sign that your baby is feeding well, and they will soon fade. 
  • Your baby's bowel movements will now change to a loose, mustard-yellow, cottage-cheese or seed-like consistency. These are called milk stools. Your baby will pass two to five stools per day, most probably during a feeding.
  • Your baby has now received five million cancer-busting stem cells from your milk (Williams 2013).

1 Week Old:
  • Your baby will tend to gain weight steadily as your mature milk supply is established. Once your baby is regularly gaining weight, it is no longer necessary to wake them to breastfeed. Simply follow your baby’s lead.
  • Expect your baby to now gain around 4-7 ounces (112-200 grams) per week for their first month.
  • At this point your breasts may feel full but soft. You may frequently leak breast milk and begin wearing breastpads. However note that leaking has no relationship to how much milk you’re making.
  • Young babies, both breast and formula fed, are often fussy. This fussiness starts at around 1-3 weeks, peaks at around 6-8 weeks and is gone by 3-4 months. "They want to be 'in arms' or at the breast very frequently and fuss even though you attempt to calm them. They often seem 'unsatisfied' with their feedings and even seem to reject or cry at the breast" (Mother to Mother). It is not unusual for fussiness to happen during the late afternoon and evenings, and is usually NOT due to hunger, wet/dirty nappy, or anything that you can remedy. It is usually NOT related to milk supply, although some mothers worry about this.
  • By the end of this week your transitional milk will have turned into mature milk which is thinner and contains more water. It consists of 90 percent water and 10 percent of carbohydrates, proteins and fats necessary for both growth and energy. There is more watery high-protein milk at the start of a feed, gradually gaining higher levels of fat as you go through the feed.

2 Weeks Old:
  • Most babies have regained their original birth weight by this age. If this is the case, the frequency of weighing should reduce. Note that there is no compulsory requirement to get your baby weighed. UK Government guidelines state that weighing can occur "if parents wish, or if there is professional concern" (see here).
  • If your baby has yet to regain their birth weight, try not to worry, “it can take up to three weeks” (La Leche League). Encourage your newborn to breastfeed frequently during the day as well as during the night. Also wait until your baby has finished feeding from the first breast before offering the second. This way, you can be sure that your baby is getting to the rich, fatty hindmilk.
  • You are likely to also notice your baby’s first growth spurt around this time. This means that your baby will actively return to the breast many times for closely linked ‘cluster’ feedings. Typically, this pattern occurs during the late afternoon or evening hours. Growth spurts generally last 2-3 days, but for a few mothers they can last a week or so. This is normal, healthy behaviour and NOT a sign that you have an inadequate milk supply.
  • By now at least one nappy per day should be thoroughly soaked.
  • Although sucking is a newborn reflex, the mechanics of effective latching on aren't. It usually takes a couple of weeks, and sometimes longer, for mothers and babies to get really good at nursing.
  • Does your baby have jaundice? So-called 'breastmilk jaundice' is much less common than newborn jaundice. It doesn't normally appear until now. Unlike a baby with newborn jaundice, the baby with breastmilk jaundice is alert, asking for feeds frequently, weeing and pooing normally and gaining weight. So, although it can last for several weeks or even months, this type of jaundice doesn't usually need any treatment (Rapley and Murkett 2012).

3 weeks old:
  • You have reached the stage where your baby will probably have a little neck control and a decent latch which makes this the perfect time to practice the lying down breastfeeding position. Once mastered, this position will greatly aid night time feedings as you can snooze whilst your baby helps himself.
  • Your nipples 'toughen up' after 2 to 3 weeks (Cave and Fertleman 2012).
  • You probably feel as though you have done nothing but feeding. However by now you and your baby will be getting to grips with the practicalities of feeding and leaning to trust each other. It may not feel like a huge milestone but by focusing on breastfeeding for these first three weeks you have set up your long-term capacity to produce as much milk as your baby needs and laid the foundations for an easy breastfeeding relationship.

1 month old:
  • "By around week 4 your baby will take around 40 minutes to feed, rather than an hour" (Cave and Fertleman 2012).
  • Your baby’s weight will probably start to slow down a little from his previous rapid gain. Expect your baby to gain an average of 1-2 pounds (1/2 to 1 kilogram) per month now until 6 months.
  • Your baby's poo production will also slow down. She may go for several days (maybe even a week or more) without producing a poo at all. This is quite normal at this age (Rapley and Murkett 2012). Other breastfed babies may pass several per day. It depends very much on the individual. Infrequency is not a sign of constipation. Hard, difficult-to-pass stools are. Constipation is very rare in breastfed babies.
  • Your baby will grow in length by about an inch per month (2.5c.m.) until 6 months.
  • As babies grow older, they not only gain more slowly, they also gain more irregularly. Teething or illness may take their appetite away for several weeks and they may hardly gain at all. When they feel better, their appetite revives and their weight catches up with a rush (Spock 2004).
  • There is no reason to expect your baby to put on weight at a steady rate, week after week, so there's no advantage in weighing her frequently. Unless there are particular concerns about her health, there's no need to weigh her more than once a month (Rapley and Murkett 2012).
  • By exclusively breastfeeding for at least 1 month you have given your baby significant protection against food allergy at 3 years of age, and also against respiratory allergy at 17 years of age (Saarinen. UM and Kajosaari. M).

6 weeks:
  • Your baby’s second growth spurt will occur around this time.
  • At this point you may start to notice that your breasts stop feeling so hard and full before each feed, and stay much softer, but fear not, they are actually producing more and more milk for your growing baby. Don’t assume you’re running out because your breasts are softer between feeds: your body is simply becoming more efficient. In fact, between feeds your breasts will probably feel like they did before you were pregnant (Rapley and Murkett 2012). It is unfortunate that this change often occurs at the same time as the 6 week growth spurt, which naturally leads mothers to be unnecessarily concerned about their milk supply. "A baby can still get 180ml (6fl oz) or more from a breast that to the mother does not seem at all full" (Spock 2004).
  • It’s common at this point to notice that one breast is producing more milk than the other or is easier for your baby to latch onto.
  • Leaking is likely to have diminished or ceased altogether now, although some mothers experience leaking longer than others.
  • You may no longer feel your letdown reflex or the feeling may have diminished in strength. Some mothers never feel let-down at all, but they can tell by watching their baby's pattern of suck and swallow when their let-down is occurring.
  • It is not recommended that you start expressing until you have had a chance to build up a good milk supply. This usually happens at around 6 weeks. If you decide to start pumping, be aware that pumping only small amounts is not an indicator of a low milk supply.
  • Likewise, this is the earliest you should introduce a dummy. However refraining from dummy-use altogether is preferable.
  • By now you will have eased your baby through the most critical part of his infancy. Newborns who are not breastfed are much more likely to get sick or be hospitalized, and have many more digestive problems than breastfed babies. Also breastfeeding for 6 weeks means that your child now has less risk of chest infections up to 7 years old (NCT).

2 months:
  • Your baby will still need to feed about every two to two and a half hours, although he may go three hours. The normal range is anything from eight to twelve feedings in twenty-four hours (West 2010).
  • Your baby may now spend less time at each nursing session because he has become more efficient at the breast and therefore requires less time to milk it effectively (Rapley and Murkett 2012).  He may also only need to nurse one side per feeding, rather than both sides as he may have done before. Always offer the second side but don't worry if your baby doesn't seem to want it or need it.
  • At this point, most babies, whether breast or formula-fed still need to feed once or twice during the night.
  • "By month 2, babies' mouths are much bigger so they find it easier to latch on" (Cave and Fertleman 2012). Consequently, you may find that any over-supply or latching problems begin to correct themselves naturally around now.
  • From now until 4 months old, your baby should nurse at least 6 times per 24 hour period.
  • If you choose to get your baby vaccinated they will have their first vaccination around now. By breastfeeding you are enhancing your baby's antibody response, strengthening the effectiveness of the vaccine (Silfverdal. SA et al). Nursing during the vaccination process will also offer your baby a unique level of pain relief (Tansky.C and Lindberg. CE).
  • Perhaps you’re noticing that your baby looks slimmer than their formula fed peers? Studies have shown that breastfed babies become noticeably leaner beginning around 2–3 months in comparison to formula-fed babies (Kramer et al., 2004)
  • By breastfeeding exclusively for 2 months, your child now has a lower risk of food allergy at 3 years old  (NCT).

3 months:
  • Another growth spurt, hang in there. Don’t be tempted to give formula (or even worse, solids) to appease your baby’s appetite, because a decrease in the frequency of nursing would reduce your milk supply, which is the exact opposite of what your baby is ordering.
  • Even after the growth spurt has passed, a baby between three and four months old should be feeding at least every four hours during the day.
  • Some babies at this age, because they have become experienced feeders, will nurse for only five or seven minutes, or even as little as two or less per feed (Gonzalez 2014).
  • If your baby is beginning to give up his night feeds, you will find that he nurses longer at his day feeds.
  • At this age, your exclusively breastfed baby may go for ten or twelve days without pooping (Gonzalez 2014).
  • Your breastfed baby will tend to need much less burping now.
  • Interesting fact: If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your milk is currently providing 535 calories, 6.8g of protein and 37g fat for your baby per day! (Thompson 2012).
  • You’ve probably heard the delicious fact that breastfeeding uses up the fat stores you laid down in pregnancy. The greatest weight loss is seen in the three to six month period (Moody et al). You’ve just hit the start of this uber fat-burning period.
  • You may find that your baby becomes more distracted during feeds now. This is because her eyesight has developed and she can see across the room. When your baby seems distracted, take care that this doesn't mark the beginning of a habit developing when your baby feeds less and less during the day, then makes up for it at night.
  • Are you finding that your baby is sleeping better at night now? At three months, nocturnal sleep is actually increased in breastfed babies compared to formula fed babies due to tryptophan in breast milk which acts as a regulator (Cubero et al 2005).
  • By breastfeeding for at least 3 months you have given your baby a 27 percent reduction in the risk of asthma if you have no family history of asthma and a 40 percent reduction if you have a family history of asthma (Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center).
  • If you have exclusively breastfed for this long, your baby will have enhanced development in key parts of the brain compared to other children who were fed formula or a combination of formula and breastmilk (Dean et al).
  • By this stage you have also given your baby between a 19 and 27 percent reduction in incidence of childhood Type 1 Diabetes (Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center).

4 months:
  • By giving nothing but your breastmilk for the first four months you have given your baby strong protection against ear infections and respiratory tract diseases for a whole year (American Academy of Paediatrics; Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center; Duncan.B et al).
  • By breastfeeding for at least 4 months you have reduced your baby’s risk of SIDS (Mother & Baby).
  • By now you have overcome early obstacles such as engorgement, sore nipples, and marathon cluster feedings. Nursing is becoming so much easier than bottle-feeding.
  • Around this time teething may cause your baby to begin drooling, sucking on his fingers, or chewing on objects. This need to suck or chew on things can easily be misread as a sign that your baby is still hungry after a feed and ready to wean. Also, bear in mind that reaching for food is NOT asking for it. Babies reach for everything, and they like to mimic as well, so doing mouth movements also does not indicate a readiness for solids. Likewise, some of your friends, baby food manufacturers and even health professionals may suggest that you introduce solid foods around now. The UK Department of Health, WHO and Unicef all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months (meaning only breastmilk). This is because your baby’s digestive system is unlikely to be sufficiently developed to cope with solids before then. Also contrary to what some health visitors may contend, starting solid foods before 6 months of age will not increase your baby's caloric intake or provide a health advantage to your baby. Breastmilk has a higher concentration of fat and other essential nutrients than any solid food.
  • From now until 7 months old, your baby should nurse at least 5 times per 24 hour period. One of these is likely to be a night feed.
  • Some babies will want to nurse more often while teething while others may nurse less often, some even refusing to nurse completely, often referred to as a nursing strike. If this happens, try applying infant teething gel. Your baby might accept the breast more readily if her gums are numbed. If your baby still refuses the breast, you will need to pump your breasts frequently to prevent blocked ducts and maintain your supply. A nursing strike will usually last between 2-5 days although can last longer.
  • You may notice a further slowing of your baby’s weight gain around now. Between four and six months, breastfed babies tend to gain weight slower than their formula-fed peers, although growth in length and head circumference are similar in both groups (Moody et al). "Gradual weight gain, although this is not necessarily even, and a dropping-off of weight gain should not be taken in isolation to suggest that feeding isn't going well" (Johnson).
  • Some babies nurse very quickly at this age (3-5 minutes) and may become distracted at the breast, maybe even pulling off the breast after only a few sucks. Feeding in peaceful surroundings can help. Night waking may begin again or become more frequent as your baby tries to make up calories missed during the day (read more about sudden night wakings at 4 months here).
  • By breastfeeding for 4 months you have given your child a lower risk of developing eczema and asthma (NCT).
  • By 4 months, babies have entered a significant cognitive milestone; their brains are going through an enormous growth spurt, which accounts for all of the increased alertness and distractibility. A baby who used to feed intently will now pop off and on the breast, turning to look when Daddy or big sister walks into the room or if a noise catches her attention. 
  • You may be preparing to return to work, and lots of breastfeeding mothers make the decision to switch to formula at this stage. However this does not have to be the case. Your milk can be expressed for your baby to have while you’re at work. You can find a collection of resources for working and pumping mothers here. If it is not possible to express, try a milk bank or as a last resort you could wean her onto formula during the day and keep her morning and evening breastfeeds going.
  • Babies tend to want to breastfeed more often when they are feeling emotionally unsettled. If you are returning to work it may trigger increased feedings (Rapley and Murkett 2012). 

5-6 Months:
  • You have greatly reduced your baby’s risk of developing allergies by waiting until at least now to introduce solids, this is particularly the case if you have a family history of allergies.
  • By breastfeeding for this long you have protected your baby’s intestinal tract so that it can now begin to produce antibodies. These antibodies coat the intestines and protect him from foreign proteins and allergens.
  • Continuing to breastfeed alongside the introduction of solid foods not only ensures good nutrition, it actually helps with the digestion of those other foods (Rapley and Murkett 2012). 
  • If you are babyled weaning your baby will continue to have 'breastfeeding poo' (runny and yellow) with occasional bits, for several months after she has started exploring solids (Rapley and Murkett 2012). 
  • Unless your baby is having other drinks (which would decrease her need for breastmilk as a drink), the number of breastfeeds she asks for probably won't change noticably at first; she will still carry on asking for them in her usual way but take slightly less milk at each feed.
  • Your baby should still be having at least 6-8 breastfeeds per day (Fredregill 2004).
  • At around 6 months your baby will experience another growth spurt. Although you have solids to give, remember to offer the breast first as breastmilk is more nutritious. If your baby has been sleeping through the night you may find that he begins to wake for a midnight feeding during this growth spurt.
  • After the first six months, breastfed babies tend to be leaner. Compared to their formula-fed friends, breastfed infants gain an average of one pound less during the first twelve months. The extra weight in formula-fed infants is thought to be due to excess water retention and a different composition of body fat (Dewey. K). Expect your breastfed baby to gain an average of one pound (1/2 kilogram) per month from six months till he is one year old.
  • There is no need to weigh your baby more than once every two months now (Rapley and Murkett 2012).
  • Your baby will grow around one-half inch per month from six months to one year.
  • Keep an eye on your baby's fluid intake during this time. If too many nursings are replaced by solid feedings too quickly, he may not be getting enough fluid which can lead to constipation (evident in small pellet-like stools). Putting your baby to the breast frequently should alleviate the problem.
  • A lot of childcare manuals suggest that your baby should have doubled their birth weight by now, but remember that each baby is unique. When evaluating your baby’s overall growth pattern, your baby’s birth weight, length, gestational age, and parental size need to be taken into account. It has been noted that, “by the time they are ready for solids breastfed babies are often gaining less than many of the growth charts say they should” (Lim. P). The complex nature of a harmonious breastfeeding relationship cannot be weighed, measured, or plotted like scientific data on a chart. If you receive overreaction about your baby’s weight from family or health professionals, direct them to this article: ‘Look at the Baby, Not the Scale’.
  • If you have exclusively breastfed to this point, your baby is more likely to accept a range of solid foods. This is because breastmilk exposes babies to the flavors of their mothers’ diets and serves as a ‘‘flavor bridge’’ between a milk-based diet and a more adult-like diet (Mennella and Beauchamp, 1996; Taveras et al., 2004). Not only is food acceptance higher in breast-fed babies, they are particularly more likely to prefer vegetables (Sullivan and Birch, 1994). What’s more, food rejection or ‘pickiness’ is lower among pre-school children who were exclusively breastfed (Shim et al.,2011), so your child will reap the benefits for years to come!
  • By breastfeeding for 6 months you have given your baby significant protection against eczema during their first 3 years (Chandra et al).
  • You are now in the 1% of mothers who have breastfed for this long! Bravo! (BBC 2012).
  • You have also given your baby a 19 percent decrease in risk of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia and a 15 percent decrease in the risk of acute myelogenous leukemia (Tufts-New England Medical Center Evidence-Based Practice Center).

7-8 months:

  • Distraction at the breast may continue. Don't be misled into believing that your baby's temporary lack of interest in breastfeeding is a sign he is ready to wean. It is extremely rare for a child to self-wean before one year of age.
  • You'll notice that your baby asks for some milk feeds a little later than usual now, especially after a meal where she's eaten quite a lot of solid food (Rapley and Murkett 2012).
  • Your baby should still be having 5-7 breastfeeds per day (Fredregill 2004).
  • Your baby will likely be teething in earnest at the moment. There are really two kinds of teething: chronic teething and acute teething. Chronic teething is ongoing. You’ll notice your baby doing lots of drooling, putting just about anything he can fit into his mouth, and gnawing on his fingers or hand. But he will continue to eat and drink normally. During acute teething, a tooth is actively cutting through the gum, which is a very painful process for most children. Babies who are cutting a tooth are often less interested in the breast, or eating solids, as their gums feel sore and irritable when sucking or eating. Luckily, acute teething will only last a few days at a time.
  • Babies breastfed for between seven and nine months have higher intelligence than those breastfed for less than seven months (Johnson).

9 months:
  • You have now seen your baby through the fastest and most important brain and body development of his life on the food that was designed just for him - your milk. You may even notice that he is more alert and more active than babies who did not have the benefit of their mother's milk.
  • Some babies display waning interest in the breast around now. This may be due to altered taste brought about by hormonal changes during your menstrual period (if it has returned yet) or a temporary loss of appetite due to a cold or teething. Gentle perseverance is recommended. Try nursing in peaceful surroundings or when your baby is sleepy. If all else fails, pump milk to give to your baby in a cup whilst continuing to offer the breast.
  • Your baby should still be having 4-5 breastfeeds per day (Fredregill 2004).
  • Around now, your baby may be mastering the use of a beaker, which could lead to further loss of interest in nursing.
  • If you have been baby-led weaning, your baby will only now be making the connection between hunger and solid food. As she begins to eat more, her poos will start to become more solid, darker and smellier - especially once she starts to cut down her intake of breastmilk (Rapley and Murkett 2012). 
  • Once she is regularly eating and drinking at mealtimes, your baby may decide to skip some breastfeeds altogether, turning away when she's offered the breast. All you need to do is respond to her cues, just as you have until now. Even if you notice a fairly consistent drop in breastfeeding, it may not be a permanent change. It's common for babies to go back to breastfeeding for short periods, especially when they are teething or fighting off an infection. They may want nothing but breastmilk for a week or two, then switch back to eating solid foods and taking less milk. Your breasts will adapt within a day or two - even if your milk production has already gone down.

10 months:
  • Your baby’s increased mobility through cruising, crawling or shuffling may mean that his nursing patterns become erratic. On some days he may so ‘busy’ that he almost forgets to nurse. On such days, periodically offer your breast even if he does not at first indicate a desire to nurse. On other days, when exploration becomes overwhelming, he may nurse almost constantly.
  • Even though your baby is eating solid foods, breastmilk is still the most important part of his diet, and continues to provide him with important immunities at a time when he is crawling around and putting EVERYTHING in his mouth.

1 year:
  • Many of the health benefits this year of nursing has given your child will last his entire life. He will have a stronger immune system and will be much less likely to need orthodontia or speech therapy.
  • Breastfeeding doesn't have to end just because your baby is no longer relying on it for their sole nourishment - it can carry on for several more years, if you both want.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for at least a year, to help ensure normal nutrition and health for your baby.
  • New research suggests that gut microbiota is not - as previously thought - stable from the moment a child is a year old. Rather, important changes continue to occur right up to the age of three. This probably means that there is a 'window' during these early years, in which intestinal bacteria are more susceptible to external factors. Even more reason to continue providing invaluable antibodies via your breastmilk! (University of Denmark and the University of Copenhagen 2014).
  • As you have been lactating for a year, the fat and energy content of your breastmilk has significantly increased compared with the breastmilk of women who have been lactating for shorter periods (Mandel. D et alWilliams 2013).
  • Is your baby still slimmer than their formula-fed peers? Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal (and healthy!) By the end of the first year, formula-fed infants in affluent countries are 600–650 g heavier than infants breast-fed for 12months (Dewey, 2001).
  • Many babies continue feeding two to three times a day - perhaps first thing in the morning and last thing at night, plus odd times when they fall over or are tired or upset. Some babies continue feeding ten or so times a day! All normal (Gonzalez 2014). 
  • The fact that most babies can tolerate cow’s milk after one year does not mean that cow’s milk should necessarily replace your breastmilk. Cow's milk does not contain the bioavailable vitamins and antibodies found in breastmilk. Also it is well documented that the later that cow's milk (a common allergen) is introduced into the diet of a baby, the less likelihood there is of allergic reactions (Ponzone. A).
  • If you want to carry on weighing your baby, once every three to six months is more than sufficient from now on (Rapley and Murkett 2012).
  • As a result of receiving your breastmilk for at least a year your child is more likely to display better social adjustment when they begin school (Kneidel. S).
  • By breastfeeding for a year you have given your child a lower risk of becoming overweight in later life and lower risk factors for heart disease as an adult. Oh, and you've saved yourself at least £450 ($720) on formula! (NCT).

16 months:
  • You have continued to provide your baby's normal nutrition and protection against illness at a time when illness is most common in other babies. Your baby will continue to receive those important immune benefits for as long as he continues to nurse.
  • Breastfeeding toddlers between 16 and 30 months old have been found to have fewer types and shorter duration of illness and to require less medical care than their non-breastfeeding peers (Gulick. E).
  • Some of the immune factors in your breastmilk will increase in concentration during this second year (Goldman. A et al).
  • Your toddler will now be very quick and efficient at breastfeeding, and able to latch on from virtually any angle.

2 years+:
  • The World Health Organization and UNICEF  strongly encourage global breastfeeding through toddlerhood: “Breastmilk is an important source of energy and protein, and helps to protect against disease during the child's second year of life.”
  • "At around two or three, children often experience a sort of feeding frenzy when they want to nurse all the time, sometimes every fifteen minutes. It is almost as if they are 'play-nursing'. There is no need to worry" (Gonzalez 2014).
  • Your milk is still providing your child with essential proteins, nutrients antibodies and other protective substances and will continue to do so for as long as you continue nursing. Human biology is geared to a weaning age of between 2 1/2 and 7 years (Dettwyler. K). “It takes between two and six years for a child's immune system to fully mature. Human milk continues to complement and boost the immune system for as long as it is offered” (La Leche League).
  • Extensive research on the relationship between cognitive achievement (IQ scores, grades in school) and breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest (van den Bogaard, C. et al), (NCT) .
  • At this age many children form attachments to comfort items. This reliance peaks during their second year (Encyclopaedia of Children's Health; Stringer. K). Examples include rags, toys, dummies and even a bottle, objects that can all be mislaid, forgotten or lost. The beauty of breastfeeding your toddler is that your child's source of comfort is permanently attached to you. Furthermore, nursing does not produce the harmful health consequences  that a dummy or bottle would at this age (e.g. dental malformation, tooth decay, speech delay).
  • Toddlers like to move. Your toddler has only recently mastered walking, running and climbing, and she loves to find new ways to use her body. Unfortunately, constant motion and breastfeeding don't go well together. Your little gymnast might decide at some point that nursing would be more fun if he could twist, turn and climb all over you while sucking away. Ouch! Some children can even go from standing to hanging upside down over your shoulder in a single feeding session.
  • As your child starts to drink less and your production winds down, your milk will become gradually more concentrated - almost like colostrum again - giving her an extra boost of immunity (Rapley and Murkett 2012). 

Pin it!


Shazronnie said...

Excellent; thank you, will share on facebook :)

MomE said...

Wonderful! This will quickly go viral on Facebook, I think. :)

Boobie Time said...

I Love this, just shared it!

Chris and Krysta said...

Thanks for gatherring this, i will be sharing it!
I would suggest adding "babywearing maybe helpful" for the first three month cranky/colic period. Reference- Happiest baby on the block. Written by a Ped.. But I can't remember his name at the moment.

motherbynature said...

Great collection of important info all in one spot. One additional tip -- if you go diaper-free (elimination communication), it's much easier to keep an eye on those early wees, and those explosive poos aren't any mess at all to clean up since they go right into a potty or down the drain! Even occasional 'potty-tunities' reduce the mess and the risk of diaper rash, it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

Offer a potty just after nursings (if they haven't fallen asleep of course), at a diaper change (they will instinctively wee when their skin is exposed to air), and when baby wakes from a nap... in fact, many of those frequent night wakings are not due to hunger, but from the discomfort of a full bladder. Babies actually cannot pee while fully asleep, they have to at least partially rouse in order for those muscles to relax. They will eventually become 'trained' to go in their clothes (ie, diaper) rather than wait for open air, which is their instinct, and will learn to 'sleep through' the need to pee and not rouse as much. So it's especially useful in the early days to give them that opportunity when they wake up -- you may find you all get much better sleep and your breasts may get a well-deserved break (if they're uncomfortable from the pressure of the need to pee, or from a wet diaper, they may nurse more aggressively in the attempt to soothe their discomfort and/or get back to sleep, even though they're not otherwise hungry).

noartificialsweeteners said...

Loved reading this. Great information, thanks. :)

sarahv said...

The bit about the Gulick study is a myth, unfortunately. This claim crops up all over the internet, although I have no idea where it first came from: but I have a copy of the study, and it doesn't say that at all. The 16 - 30-month-old toddlers Gulick studied weren't even breastfeeding - they'd all been breastfed in the past, but had all been weaned before the time period studied. The study had nothing to do with toddler breastfeeding. It was actually a study into whether duration of breastfeeding was associated with frequency of illness after breastfeeding had stopped.

I'd query a couple of other points in the toddler breastfeeding section as well. Excellent info about the earlier months, though.

Marisa said...

As a FTM mom to a 2 month old I found this post extremely informative, reassuring and encouraging - thank you! Bookmarking this - my goal is to BF at the very least 6 months (I will be returning to work in the next month, hoping I can maintain my supply while pumping at work) and ideally one year. But reading this makes me think I might just continue after a year too!

TheBabyWebsite said...

Brilliant! Enough said..... x

Athena said...

Thank you for the wonderful information. You actually answered a couple of questions I was just wondering about. This is an AMAZING resource for breastfeeding moms! I think I may even give our pediatrician (who is very supportive of breastfeeding)the link so he can share it with other moms.

PrincessC said...

This offers a lot of information to those of us who are breastfeeding past 2 years. My youngest is 2.5y and he's still breastfeeding. I don't think I'll breastfeed until he's 7 (lol My daughter, who's 8, thinks that's icky... rofl) but I have a feeling we'll be going at least until he's 3. Thanks for the information! I wish I'd had this with my first! (The nurse gave formula instead of helping me cluster feed so my milk didn't come in right and we ended up having to suppliment. :( I know this because I've had enough milk with both my daughter and my youngest to exclusively breastfeed. I was NOT happy!)

Brandi said...

Thanks for this great article! I have nursed three babies, one until he was almost two, one who was 26 months, and I am currently nursing my third, and he just turned a year....I was the first person in my family to nurse and got some flack along the way, about how much the baby was getting and how old they were when they weaned. I'm a total advocate and I encourage others to stick it out and do it for as long as they can. My sister is now pregnant and she had a lot of concerns and I think this will help ease her mind and give her some helpful information.

jill2778 said...

Excellent article with a ton of info. So wish I had seen this before my baby was born, though at 4 months, you answered the question about starting to wake during the night, so thanks! Definitely will be sharing this.


so is this saying that it is best to nt start pumping until 6 weeks, or when is the earliest you can start? when i have baby, i have to go back to work at 6 weeks and do not want any issues with taking a bottle so is it possible to pump before hand and introduce a bottle before 6 weeks?

My Gorgeous Bunch said...

hi... im sharing it thru my blog...

Alan and Mindee said...

Although there is some great information here, I want to note that this is not the bible! I followed this info word for word when my first daughter was born and failed miserably at breastfeeding. However, when I had my second and third I made some adjustments and was able to breast feed successfully for a year and am now breastfeeding my 3rd who is 4 1/2 months old and it is going great. I know that they say you should not have sore nipples if you are doing it right. This was not true for me. Breastfeeding has been one of the most painful things I have endured. I've had lactation specialist/friends who have all told me I was doing it right, but it still hurt. I was so cracked with my first that my milk supply started to drop and I had no choice physically and emotionally, but to stop. I disagree with the no bottle approach. My kids never had confusion and could do both. The best thing I did when I had my second was let the nurse feed my baby a bottle for the first night so I could get some sleep, I know that made all the difference in the world for my breastfeeding success. For my first I was nervous about my milk supply so I was breastfeeding and pumping - big mistake!!! No wonder my nipples were so cracked. My friend told me she fed her child 10-15 min. per side and then if they were still hungry she gave an ounce or two of formula. I had to do this for the first month and a half and then I was able to breastfeed completely and successfully on my own. My babies usually only need an extra ounce or two at night and this method is what saved my nipples for that first little while. I feel formula is portrayed in such a bad light. I promise your baby will be just fine with a little formula. My first daughter after 5 weeks was given strait formula and she is by far the healthiest one in our family, yes breast fed is best, but formula is fine to. My point here is that you might need to try a few different approaches. I was so worried about following by the book for my first one that I failed instead of trying other options. I am so glad that I am able to breastfeed and even though it has been a trial for me I now really enjoy being able to do so. I also have sincere empathy for those who cannot. I know it is easy to judge, but we are all different and breastfeeding is NOT the same for all of us. I have been the only one in my family who was able breastfeed successfully and It really saddened me when I hear stories from my mom or sisters of how they have felt judged my a nurse or a neighbor because they were not able to breastfeed. As mothers we all want what is best for our children and we do the best we can.

Holly said...

Start pumping a few weeks before to build up your bottle supply. I have 5 kids, & went back to work @ six weeks with 4 of them. You can freeze breast milk. I would nurse my baby, then pump a little when they were done. Once I went back to work, I would pump on my breaks, that way, I didn't stop producing, and I had enough milk for my babies. They all did well transfering to a bottle. I used slow drip nipples on them because my oldest tended to choke on the faster flow nipples. I didn't give them a bottle until a week before I went back. Good luck to you.

Haydee (say "i-Day", in Spanish) said...

this is excellent. thank you for the insight. it helps put everything into more context. granted, every mother's experience is unique, this is a good starting point for reference that i can use from time to time.

Melissa Ryan said...

This is an excellent article and I am going to repost on my blog and facebook.

Nield Family said...

I think this is a well written article, with the exception of one thing. There are some people out there - me for example who wanted nothing more than to breastfeed my baby. I went to classes, read books, looked online for tips, bought all kinds of things, and in the end I had to stop when she was about 2.5 months old.

3 weeks before I was born we discovered a lump in one of my breasts and after a couple tests it was decided that they would need to take it out in order to see if it was cancer or not (by the way I was 21 at the time). So after a long labor and a 4th degree tear, I went to sleep that night to go into a surgery the next day. The day following the surgery the area they cut into for the surgery had hemorrhaged, and after talking to the doctors - because I was still wanting to breast feed but it was causing me so much pain they figured the best thing to do was to go back into surgery and make sure everything was ok and clean it out and such.

The day after that I needed a blood transfusion - one of the nurses said I had lost the color in my ears. At this point I had been in the hospital for a total of 5 days, and for the first week after I went home I could barely walk on my own, and I couldn't even pick my daughter up I was so weak, my mom or my husband had to hand her to me. Not to mention other aliments I was going through at the time. Never the less - kept breastfeeding.

Fast forward 2.5 months - I was not healing well at all. I still had many issues and my breast especially because I had been breastfeeding this whole time was not healing well. The doctor said all the nutrients were going to my daughter and if I continued to breastfeed I might not heal for a very long time. ( I had tired to go to the gym at this time, right before the doctors visit and 30 seconds on an elliptical was horrific pain that had me in bed for a day or two).

So I stopped, so I could heal so I could take better care of my baby. Don't think for a second that my daughter is low weight or unhealthy and gets sick a lot. She has always been and still is (3.5 years later) in the higher percentiles and rarely gets sick. I had a friend who only breastfed and her daughter got sick much more than mine did. And also don't think that we have any less of a relationship or are not as close because we didn't continue to breastfeed.

If I ever have another child I will defiantly try again to breastfeed - and this article could give me some great tips. Just please remember to include something in it for the moms who really tried but couldn't for some reason. I have actually had people tell me I am such a bad mom for stopping so early in my daughters life, until I tell them my story. Then they apologize.

Not that this article was written bad but it made me feel guilty for having to stop and not being able to give my daughter what I really wanted to give her. So please next time you write something write a little bit about how you realize that there are moms out there who really wish to who cannot. It would make me feel better, and I know others who would be comforted too.

Jennie Lee Williams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennie Lee Williams said...

There is no need for the condescending tone in your introduction. Many people who choose not to or can't breastfeed for one reason or other have beautiful, healthy, lean, attached-to-mama, developmentally advanced babies with strong immune systems and amazing personalities, like my own. She is not a lower-class citizen because she drinks formula, and I am not a lower-class citizen for feeding it to her. I find this information interesting in its own right, but it's tainted by a guilt trip for feeding my baby "the milk of an entirely different species." Which, by the way, I consume on a regular basis.

Onny said...

Hi,I have a question: in Romania after a C-section birth you get to see your baby earliest the day after the surgery, meaning that for 1 day the baby won't be breastfeed. Si I thought I should get an electrical pump to stimulate lactation in this period but my question is what to do with the small amount of colostrum? Will my baby still get all the antibodies and vitamins needed if she will not receive the colostrum from the 1st day? Thank you

Lara said...

I like many mothers have to use formula as an alternative to breast feeding. My son successfully breastfed until my period started, he was 2.5 months old, since that point my supply slowly began to drop, I did everything thing I could, I drank so much water that at times I felt like I was drowning, I ate very well with enough calories for the both of us, I drank tee with herbs that for most women would increase milk supply. I did these things trying so hard to avoid formula that eventually my son began to lose weight, I couldn't let him go hungry anymore, I started supplementing with formula, but always offering the breast first, it was never enough for him though. You can imagine how horribly I felt, any mother knows mommy guilt is the worst kind. All of this because my body responded differently than most women's and my period started earlier as well. I wish I had known this could happen to me, I would not have done anything differently, but at least I might not have been so depressed and angry with myself.

Victoria Evans said...

Thank you for this post

Rebecca Anne Shepherd said...

Dr. Harvey Carp :)

trish said...

I take issue with the fact that a brand new baby should be fed every 3 hours and should be woken up and kept awake so they can sleep. A better practice is to make sure and nurse when the baby is awake in that first 24 hours.

Quest For Truth said...

I'm pretty positive the author realizes that. With every pro-bf article there are mothers who have to point out they were unable and that talking about bf makes them feel guilty. It shouldn't. Especially if you went through something like that, and it wasn't even your fault, why feel guilty? It's not our job to be politically correct and address every single emotion that people may be dealing with. Tell yourself you are above self-pity. I feel like a horrible mother because i ended up with an epidural (I wasn't supposed to land in the hopsital, but as you probably know you can't plan anything) and I feel like my birth experience was not as nearly as lovely and bonding as it should have been. I am not afraid to admit it. I don't feel guilty, I feel motivated. It is a fact that breastmilk is healthier than formula. It doesn't mean that mothers who give formula are worse mothers, it means they have diffferent circumstances; it doesn't mean your child wasn't healthy, every child is different. So no, it's not her obligation to add a tid-bit in her articles for mothers still brooding about their lost opportunities, instead of praising those who have succeeded.

Bobbi said...

So well said!

Writer Mags said...

This is a fantastic resource for mothers who intend to breastfeed for as long as possible. I am done having children, but my breastfeeding experience with my first son was so rewarding for both of us that I encourage every woman to do it. Unfortunately, my second son was extremely ill for a long time and was never able to nurse. I had a terrible experience with pumping in the NICU for him, and now I find out five years later that there was more help available to me to possibly have made it easier. But that's all water under the bridge. I do wish I had this reference when I was nursing my oldest, because it was a VERY rocky beginning and I almost gave up. BUt he forced me to continue because he refused to take a binky or a bottle so I had no choice! I will be sharing this link with several of my friends who are currently preggo and hope that they can get as much information as they need from this.

Tea Jane said...

If you feel guilty, then don't read articles about bf. Everyone knows that bf is better than formula, so you should expect an article about bf to state that fact. This article is not saying that formula fed babies are "lower-class" or not as smart. It is simply saying that bf babies have been proven to have a higher IQ. While formula fed babies can have higher IQ's as well, it has been proven that bf automatically receive the benefits mentioned.

Lori B said...

Love the article! We are going on 32 months strong tomorrow! Wahoo!!

Mary and Jake Porter said...

I am completely NOT opposed to breastfeeding, but frankly said, there are women who cannot, for whatever reason, successfully breastfeed. I wish that women who are 'super successful super nursing moms' could try to understand that. I tried and tried with my first. She was not thriving. Being a first-time mom, I guess I was clueless and did not realize that my milk never really came in. I started supplementing at about a month and fully formula at about 2 months. It made a huge difference, for the good, in my daughter. I realized after having my 2nd that there was no way that my milk really came in with my first because what I experienced did not happen the first time. It only came in though because my doctor put me on a med that helped it come in. Otherwise, it would have just been a repeat of the first. At about 3-4 months of the meds and several weeks of mastitis in both breasts, I took a hard look at our situation and decided that I was torturing myself and ultimately my baby in order to give my daughter a very small amount of breast milk. And the only reason I could think of that I was continuing this is because that is what is the 'norm'. I didn't give up with my 3rd however. He was a much better nurser thatn my girls, but after 4-5 months my milk just stopped coming...even with meds. Switching does not make me a failure as a mom. I did what I needed to for my children. Aside from my personal experience, prior to baby #2, I worked for a busy OB/GYN. We had a gal who came in for her 6 wk postpartum check-up. Her baby had only gained 5 oz. She was not able to produce the breastmilk that her baby needed to thrive, but had not realized this on her own. Why the pediatrician didn't catch this, I do not know. I do know though that after that appointment she switched to formula, per docs orders, and her baby caught up to where she should have been. Now, all of you 'super moms' may not agree with me, but after beating myself up about being an unsuccessful nurser as a new mom, I finally realized that what matters most is that my baby is thriving and healthy and happy. Not whether or not I breatfed them. Kuddos to the majority of moms that are successful at this. But, please remember...not all of us can be successful nursers, but all of us can be successful moms. My children are smart, healthy and active. They met and continue to meet and at times exceed every milestone. They were formula fed.

milkstained said...

Any chance you could throw some non-white moms & babies in there? said...

Thank you. My little girl is now 14months old and still breastfeeding. I have been thinking of weaning her lately and your post has just encouraged me to keep it up.

Steph said...

So people shouldn't post informative articles about the benefits of breastfeeding, because you felt that you were unable to breastfeed? I don't see how that makes any sense. The information still needs to be out there for women who are breastfeeding or are planning to. If you don't want to read about breastfeeding, don't read about it. Don't expect others to hide important information because your feelings might get hurt.

Katie Elizabeth said...

I really like how this walks through all the stages. That first week is the hardest. My son and me just couldn't get a good latch down and we both ended up in tears and I was ready to give up but I didn't and now my son is 28 months and still nursing.

Julie said...

I became a mom thirty five years ago. My first daughter i nursed for about a year. I had to start working when she was eight months old, but I kept on nursing her morning and night for a while. When my second daughter was born, I had discovered La Leche League, and nursed her until she was almost five (years). I was the first to nurse on both sides of the family and got a lot of flack. We stayed home a lot! My third daughter nursed about three and a half years. I nursed daughter number 2 during her pregnancy, and had been nursing for years, I was just all nursed out! You can nurse through a pregnancy, and have a completely healthy eight and a half pound baby, who is 22 inches long. Oh, and by the way, the first few weeks of nursing all three were very painful. I knew when I had let down, because that is when the pain let up. But after those first few weeks, nursing was a wonderful experience. I got my rest, as I was the only one whoe could feed them, and having them look at me and pat my breast, just made me love them more and more. It is also interesting that when they were older and found out how long they had nursed, they were pretty embarassed and were definitely bottle feeding! The youngest has a baby now, who is 11 months old, and he is breastfed. I am so proud of my daughter!

MPacker said...

I would pump the colostrum and save it in the fridge or a cooler and feed it to the baby when you get to see it. I am sure it will be fine cause there are babies who never get any of it. But I say, if you pump it then you might as well feed it to them later.

Sharee said...

Hi. I would like to offer a medical opinion here. First off, I am a labor and delivery nurse, a certified breastfeeding educator, a prenatal class instructor and a mom of 4 breastfed kids. So, I do have a strong background in this field of study.
I have read the articles you are discussing. It gave NO creadance to the socio-economic circumstatnces involved. To be a truly significant medical article, you cannot possibly leave this out and expect to be considered medical fact by anyone. Unfortunately, many people have taken this info and run with it. You can find any information you want on the internet, but that doesn't not make it science. Breast fed babies are NOT smarter than formula fed babies. And to conitue to spread this lie, hurting many mother's in your wake, is dishonest.
Also, there are no proven articles that state epidurals or intrathecals interfere with breastfeeding, breast milk supply or bonding. This is also a myth perpetuated by a select group and I wish people would stop spreading these untruths. I have read these articles, studied them, and have 15+ years experience in this field. Let's keep it an honest discussion, with facts, and most importantly kindness for new moms that are doing the best they can.
Thanks for the great information. I will be happy to point my prenatal classes to your blog, I'll just point out a few things that aren't necessarily backed by science. Thank you.

Chocolate said...

I find this totally ridiculous , women applauding each other , who breastfed ---how long.. ??
Anyone is free to do it's your hobby ,obsession, but please please stop quoting WHO or stuff like , it's a source of protein,etc... it is just too stupid and even an insult to anyone's intelligence. said...

That's not true, here's the epidural/C-section and lower milk supply study and for breastfeeding improving IQ. I didn't even have to look very hard, so I dread what 'expert' advice you're giving.

Emily Torres said...

You have no idea how happy this post made me. I failed horribly with my first. I cried everytime I nursed because I couldn't do it I got NO MILK at all and felt like a failure. He is VERY healthy and happy. I am now pregnant with #2 and cannot wai to try again. Im not giving up this time though. Thank you for your kind words an understanding. It is so hard to be a parent these days with everyone telling you what you're doing wrong.

Brittanymetzner1 said...

Really, Ladies...let's stop bashing breast feeders AND non breast's a boob, it's milk. Those who want to, GO FOR IT! Those who don't, it's okay not to. I have been on both sides of this fence, an extremely premature baby unable to latch....bleeding whilst pumping for 6 months...two other babies who nursed like it was going out of style. I for one applaud getting information into the hands of those who have questions. If you can't, or don't want to breast feed, be comfortable with yourself and your choices. It is scientific fact that breast milk is better for babies than formula, but saying so doesn't imply that anyone is a substandard parent or baby, that is called Displacement. Whatever our circumstances, all good moms just want to do the best they can for their babies...and that is what really matters.

teres said...

i was unable to bf so i guess my son is screwed. wow.

can we please just support everyones choices. you choose to bf, i COULD NOT bf and some choose not to bf. give me a break. as a side note, i could not bf (pcos and extensive hrt just to get pregnant by invitro) so he had formula and he was never sick until he started school (and even then it was just the sniffles), never had an ear infection and is too smart for his own good yet ALL of my friends kids who were bf'd were constantly sick with something and had ear infections on a regular basis. chance? environment?


Jaye said...

teres....Um, I really don't see anywhere that anyone is bashing someone else....

It's an article about the timeline for breastfed babies. Period. Full Stop. It's helpful to have these guidelines when a Mum is starting out because for the most part, this information is not widely known and talked about because BF is just coming back as a 'normal' thing - whereas bottle feeding has been the 'norm' for decades - even our kids dollies have baby bottles.

It's just information, where are you getting upset? and WHY? So you formula fed? So what? Your baby had a different timeline of growth etc...that's all. You aren't a bad Mum in any way!!!

The comments interspersed throughout telling us that we've been able to protect our LO from a percentage risk of certain colds and diseases is merely to encourage, NOT to denigrate those who don't. THEY. ARE. JUST. FACTS. Not recriminations.

Ocean000000 said...

This article was written to help breastfeeding mothers. If you didn't breastfeed, why are you reading it? I'm sure there must be articles out there for formula feeding mums that offer support and advice tailored to that process. I have found this article useful, but like everything in life it cannot be taken as gospel - every mother and baby are different - the author knows this but she can't write about every baby that has ever been born - any article written about any subject is always based on averages/typical scenarios/the norm - that's life!!

I am Nicole... said...

If you are not breastfeeding, why in the world are you reading this article and commenting? I have two kids not and one that is. I don't feel put down or less f a woman by this article. I wouldn't go to a bod builders website and start bashing people that do that just because I'm not doing it. Focus on the positive that you chose not to or tried. Don't put others down or act like victims if it didn't work out. All 3 if my kids are fine (w and w/o breast milk).

Jennifer Clutten said...

Thank you for writing and posting this, I've only just found it after 8 months of breastfeeding. I find so much of the stuff in the early weeks so true of my personal experience. I wish I had found it sooner!

Unknown said...

I agree with Jennifer i have bf two lil girls ages 3 and 15 months and will bf my baby #4 due in January 2013 and i find this article to be very on point! At least for me based on my bf experience. you did an amazing job and i find it very helpful and even though i like to think i know all there is to know about bf this post was great and plan on re-reading before i m due.

Kes said...

I'm not sure that was her point. She was also offering information- that not everyone can breastfeed and it's ok not to. When i was pregnant with my first 6 years ago, i received practically no information on formula feeding, but was given copious amounts of info on breastfeeding and how natural and wonderful it is (which i'm sure it is for the vast majority of women). As a result, i felt like a total failure when i couldn't, despite the help of two different breastfeeding councellors.
I'm pretty sure the poster was just offering a different point of view!

dietotaku said...

"This article is not saying that formula fed babies are "lower-class" or not as smart. It is simply saying that bf babies have been proven to have a higher IQ." how is that not saying formula-fed babies are less intelligent?

Lexi said...

Very good article, but I have to disagree with the cracking and bleeding not being normal. My son, who was my second bf child, was a very greedy eater who ate every two hours from birth until he weaned himself just after a year. It was VERY painful in the beginning. I used a lot of lanolin.... Also, nothing was said about how what Mommy eats/drinks can affect the breastmilk and the way baby might react to it. I couldn't have ice cream with either of my kids. Colas, even a sip, would make my son scream in pain, and anything with citrus in it would escalate his spitting up. If your baby seems to be having odd tummy problems, try looking at what YOU are eating. I did and it made all the difference. :)

Lara Myers said...

I have a question for the Alpha Parent. As my son gets older (11 months), lots of people want to pressure me into giving him tea and cows milk. I've read your article on tea and intend not to give him that. I don't intend on giving him cows milk for a while either. But I was just wondering when would be an appropriate time to introduce this into his diet? Is it best introduced when he is weaned or did you give your children cowsmilk before that?

Beth McCurdy said...

Breastfeeding hurt more than my C-section. I did it anyway. Hard work and pain will get results in anything we do in life, whether it's mental or physical or both.If you can't breastfeed for some medical reason, that is one thing. But otherwise, if you choose breastfeeding, it comes with sacrifices. Whether it's worth it or not is up to you.

Katie said...

Thank you for this post. I went through the same thing. Failed with my first because I read every book and followed every rule. 2nd I through the rules out the window, used a nook, bottle and breastfed and made it to 8 months till he was biting so bad he almost took part of my nipple off.

Andi said...

I breastfed my three children for 3 years and had none of the issues you discussed at the beginning. You don't wake your baby up. When the baby is hungry he/she will wake up. My milk was white, not yellow at the beginning. I always wore a bra, had no issues with pain, ever! Even with my first child. In fact my first child was my best nurser, I couldn't give her a bottle, and after I nursed her I could pump out an 8 oz bottle. I gave it to the University hospital for the preemies. What I find interesting is I hear a lot of this from the younger generation, my daughter's age group in their 20's, those of us who nursed them didn't have problem 1. It wasn't a sacrifice, it was a pleasure, I didn't feel like I was giving up a thing to nurse my girls, I looked forward to it. None of it was a pain. I really believe it is how you look at it. In our society today everything is slick and fast, and we are treating parenting the same way. Put the kids in front of the computer, give them a cell phone, an ipad, give them a bottle because it's easier than taking the time to hold your child and nurse. Just an observation.

Sarah said...

This is super informative!!! Some of the people on the forum should not take it so personally tho. I have a 2 yr old and I didn't breast feed, not because I couldn' milk came in, I just didn't want to. How I raise my son is my business, and how you all raise your children is your business. Why get offended or feel guilty when someone "judges" you or posts an informative article on BF when you didn't or couldn't BF. If I have another I have considered trying to pump again but if not then oh well! My son is healthy without having had breast milk, I had no breast milk as a baby and I'm fine. Do what you want and quit worrying about what other moms think about you! Did I have Drs and moms question me, sure but it wasn't their decision. This article is to inform those who are breast feeding or those who are planning to, I don't think it was meant to make anyone feel guilty or to imply that formula babies are of a lower class...if I never told anyone my son was a formula baby then they would never know! We are all just moms trying to do the best we can for our little ones...we need to stop putting one another down, every person and child is different and that's a GOOD thing =) That's all, thanks to the author for the article!

Krissie said...

Why read an article on BF if the guilt is still there? Seems to be an argument with your id more than the author. Do yourself a favor and release yourself from the guilt. The freedom that comes with knowing you did the best for your child and can own up to your decisions is the only thing that will rid you of the poison that's inadvertently directed at others and ultimately yourself.

Clifford Blodgett said...

Thank you for this. As a man who feels sometime uncomfortable asking these things, you let me know what to expect with my wife. Thanks!

Rtjunker said...

I think as moms, we are extremely successful with some aspects of parenting. In other ways I'm barely getting by. BF works for me and my family in that precarious balancing act of parenthood with all it's ups and downs and daily struggles. Every mom is not me. Every family is not mine. They have completely different strengths than me, and weaknesses. We all try our best being the different people we are balancing, managing our own lives and our family's worlds. Formula feeding is what works in that balance for some, extended breastfeeding for others. I find once we can get past our own insecurity about the choices we make, not just as mothers, but as people, the closer we can get to a place of just supporting each other. None of us are perfect, and we all know it. It's easy to look at someone else's life and envision they've got things better under control. They don't. We all compromise. And we all have unique traits to bring to the table.

DFD said...

This is a very informative article, however- I think it is very judgemental to say that "breastfed babies are not the same as formula fed babies" (inferring they are a superior race) If you were in a room of 25 Kindergarten students do you think you would be able to tell which ones were breastfed and which ones weren't? I think if it works for you that is great, but I think alot of mother's feel inadequate if it doesn't work for them because of the unecessary pressure and label of "breastfeeding!!!!!" If you are happy in return your child will be happy no matter if it is breastfed or formula fed- I have faith that no matter what each mother is just making sure their child is being fed!!

Emily Wilson said...

There are some downright HATEFUL people on here. Man, for whatever PERSONAL reason you couldn't breastfeed, please dont take out on other people. Go write your own article. My first son, i attempted and failed at breastfeeding (no other real reason than immaturity and misinformation mixed with lack of support and intimidation). Then watched my sister bravely sail the rocky waters i drowned in... did i turn on her because she did what i couldnt? Did, when she took to nursing while i mixed a bottle, i turn to all witnesses and lament and defend my actions? No. No one brestfeeds to be insulting.if i had this article three years ago, i wouldve grown up and kept on. But, i didnt- so what. I have it now, nursing my 3mo old and it gave me comfort- so sorry it rubbed you wrong. Get over it now , thank you.

Jennifer Swedlund said...

I've heard an opportune time to introduce the bottle is about 1 month old, AS LONG as breastfeeding is going very well (baby is gaining weight, your supply seems consistent, etc). I introduced the bottle then for both of my kids, and they both took it just fine. Since I didn't need them to take a bottle during the day (I'm home with them), I just "reminded" them once a week or so how to take a bottle. It worked for us!

Katrina Fallas said...


Great article!!

Loosen up people!

Infernal Combustion said...

Oh dear. I just misread that as 28 years and still nursing.

Meg said...

Thanks! I'm so glad I found this article during the week before I gave birth. My little one is a month old now and we've got a great latch, great supply, and no more nipple pain. Yippee! This article really helped me with taking things day by day and then week by week until we got into a nice groove.

Linda said...

Thank you for writing this article! I've been breastfeeding my son for almost 7 months now, the information presented here has helped me so much along the way!

Eva said...

Amen sister.

KT @ OneOrganicMama said...

Thanks for this, I was just wondering what was going on with my 10 month old... he NEVER wants to nurse anymore... :) thanks for letting me know I'm normal :)

Lovemywave said...

Thank you for the fantastic, detailed article! I am still nursing my twelve-month old daughter and really enjoying it. I was considering starting to wean her but after reading this and other articles on Kelly mom have decided to continue. Some days she gets really clingy and wants to nurse all the time, other days she Is having too much fun playing and drops some regular nursing sessions. She sleeps 12 hours a night but is still getting up once in the night to feed. Moms, Have you been successful in dropping the last nighttime feed?

Ashley Nicole said...

I am not 'for' or 'against' breast- OR bottle- feeding; I AM 'for' doing what makes you and your baby bond, thrive and be happy. I am a mom of a 6 year old daughter. I tried breast-feeding and it just wasn't for me. I know that what I'm about to say will probably warrant some strong opinions from some people, but honestly, I just didn't enjoy my child feeding from my breast. I'm a very nurturing, loving and affectionate person, very open sexually, not 'uptight', and have nothing mentally or emotionally 'wrong' with me to make me feel that way, I just plain didn't like it. I bottle-fed my daughter until the day she turned 1, and we are very, very close. We bonded perfectly, loved each other more than anything since the moment she was placed on my chest. She is very healthy and smart, ahead of her class in many skills, an avid reader and speller, and beautiful. She is also sometimes whiny and bossy. :) My point is, the way you feed your child doesn't define you as a parent. Your child has just as good a chance of growing to be an intelligent, thriving, wonderful person no matter if you breast- or bottle-feed. While I do agree that breast milk is best, if it's not for you-don't do it. You can still be a fabulous mom without it....:) One last thing-as I said, I DO agree that breast milk is best, however I DO NOT agree with doing it past one year of age. I think you should transfer them to regular milk at the same age you would transfer from formula. I don't think it's appropriate for children to be walking, carrying on a conversation, with a mouthful of teeth...and breastfeeding. Not judging!!! That's just my personal opinion. So while I enjoyed this article and found parts very informative, I don't agree with all of the aspects, and I want other moms like me to know that breast-feeding doesn't make or break you as a parent. :)

Manu said...

I breastfed my 4 children 30 plus years ago. I was cracked and bleeding and in extreme pain with my first who cried most of the time. All the advice I got was from non-bfers saying I didn't have enough milk, I was dried up, my baby was starving. Being a new mother I listened and stopped at 3 months (in tears the whole time). With the next three I read more, talked to other experienced bfers and continued till they were one. When my first daughter started to bf she also got advice from others encouraging formula by saying she wasn't producing enough milk. For each person advising her against it I would provide articles for it. In the end with all four, she did not have enough support for bf in her home and it seemed to aggravate her epilepsy so she would stop after 2 months. Now my second daughter is bf and having questions during the fussy periods about her milk supply. She is also receiving the same kind of advice from non-bfers about how her milk must be drying up and she should move to formula. I was so happy to find this article because it sheds some light on each one of those fussy moments and reassures the bf Mom that she is on the right track. By the way, my oldest is, and always has been, the most prone to colds, flus, and allergies compared to her siblings, however she is also the most positive. I know there are pros and cons to both methods of feeding, in the end we need to seek out information from those who are in support of the method we choose. I wish I had this information when I was a young Mom.

Manu said...

I forgot to mention, it was my Pediatrician who told me to stop with the first one.

Signoriello's said...


Unknown said...

Pretty much, it's not fair to censor legitimate fact and information to people looking for it, just in case someone who tried and failed reads it, and gets in a tizz. As an upcomming mother I gobble up any information I can, and won't be judging other new mothers for doing the same if for whatever reason, I fail at breastfeeding. All I want to do, is do well, as I'm sure all new moms feel the same!

tkk13above said...

This is a great piece, but I have a couple of comments about it.

1) The biggest problem this piece does is ignores working mothers (or assumes they get 6+ months of leave, which is ridiculously unrealistic for most American mothers, at least. American mothers typically get somewhere from 0 weeks leave (i.e. 2ish weeks of saved up sick/vacation time) to 12 weeks off.

With my first I had 8 weeks off. We had a very rough start to breastfeeding so I HAD to introduce a pumped bottle in the early weeks or my son would not gain weight at all or stay awake to feed. It was horrible in many ways, but I felt lucky when I went back because he took a pumped bottle no problem with the nanny. Meanwhile, a friend of mine had 12 weeks off and it was a disaster for her because she didn't try to the bottle until 10 or so weeks and her child would not take one. She had to go home to feed her child intermittently during the day.

Maybe 6 weeks is a good amount of time to wait until you introduce a bottle, but you'd better actually introduce one then rather than waiting any longer, if you are going to work or you plan on ever being away from your child. Just one a day of pumped milk is fine. Your child will not forget out to breastfeed if all of the rest of his/her feedings are at the breast.

2) This article was great but still a bit frustrating for anyone who has had trouble breastfeeding. It honestly romanticizes those first few weeks/months and makes it seem a lot easier than it is. By saying that a certain amount of pain is "not normal" or that the normal path is x, y, and z, you can sometimes discourage moms from breastfeeding because they are more inclined to give up when their initial experience is much worse. They think something is wrong with them, rather than understanding it will get better.

As I mentioned previously, my son had a LOT of difficulty for 2 months. He was a sleepy eater and would "feed" for 90 minutes at a time while half-asleep (yes we tried all of the tricks and more; the only thing that "worked" was him growing and maturing thanks to a bottle.) I had very painful nursing sessions for about a month, and then got thrush for two months. In the first weeks we saw numerous helpful lactation consultants and really needed all of that help. I also leaked profusely for 2-3 months and a bit less but continuously for about 4 months after that. Anyway, finally at 3 months nursing was normal and fun. I nursed until my son was 17 months. I'm pregnant again and fully plan on nursing, but I recognize that it's not always easy and that with a toddler at home I might not be able to stick with it if it starts off so bad. I think articles like this need to be wary of making moms feel guilty if they don't "succeed" in the breastfeeding process, and they need to be more upfront about how miserable it is for most people in the beginning (but that it's worth it later on!!)

Charlene said...

Thank you! This article was spot on for me! I've breastfed 5 children and will be again soon! Just great all around information!

Ben&Patty said...

What are your thoughts on...
nursing a 14-month old (that wakes up once or twice a night) back to sleep?? I do it, but I've been told it's not healthy as it does not encourage him to sleep through the night. But when I do nurse him, he nurses for about 5 mins and falls back asleep pretty much instantly! It a little 'connecting time' and it helps us BOTH get BACK to sleep quickly. So... I'm just curious what are YOUR thoughts on this scenario?

Abbie Williams said...

Ben, It might be slightly different but I nursed my daughter to sleep through the night up until recently where she naturally dropped this feed. I'm a great believer in babies telling you what they need. Slight difference is she's 10 months old. She dropped a night time feed naturally when she was a bit younger, then picked it up again when she was teething, and as stated previously dropped it again naturally.
I make sure her betime routine is really clear and generally the same so she understands sleep. She now falls asleep on her own, and doesn't wake up in the night.
The best thing you can do is lsten to your child and do what feels right!

Leesha said...

jesus christ...7 years old? i am a big bf advocate. i didn't get to breastfeed my babies long because they were both highly allergic to proteins and had to be put on very expensive specialty formulas. i'm also a big supporter of breastfeeding as long as you feel you should. but breastfeeding a 7 year old is a little much. if the child can easily drink out of a cup, i see no reason to have them suckling at a teat.

Team LovelyCurves said...

thank you for the guideline, love the information. happy breastfeeding =)

Stephanie Christian said...

Thank you for this timeline. Even though I EBF with my daughter for 13 months this has been very helpful with my son. Its helped me be much more patient this time around.

Carolinablessed said...

I breastfed both of my boys through their second birthdays (back when there wasn't a lot of public support for this)both boys had started to wean themselves around a year, but because of some minor health issues (one got sick at 14 mths and the doctor was worried about dehydration so encouraged us to go back to BF full time - the 2nd child was initially allergic to cow's milk and we couldn't find an alternative he would drink, so again back to full time BF)so they again weaned themselves at about 2 years. They grew up healthy, active, and smart! Both are now self-sufficient college grads who make their parents very proud - and I wish I could've nursed more babies! It made me feel wonderful knowing my body was providing for my babies everything they needed.

Cynthia said...

One of my aunts died because of very severe cow's milk allergies at 5 months. I wanted to breastfeed. When I had my first baby (she is 44 now) breastfeeding was disdained and very strongly discouraged in the U.S.A. They tried to give me shots to stop my milk. I had to ask the nurse to bring her to me during the night. (She was in the nursery, not with me.) They told me to nurse her for 5 minutes on each side every 4 hours. Absolutely no feeding on demand! And they sent me home with some "back-up formula". When she was weighed in at 1 month, she was at her birth weight. (8# 2') They told me that I had failed to nourish her well. She "needed" formula and that I needed to stop trying to breastfeed her. I felt very sad, but I believed them because of the lack of weight gain and she wanted to nurse more than every four hours, so I was not satisfying her either. I stopped. Thank God she did not have cow's milk allergies. She got fat.
My next child was born 13 years later. Breast feeding was OK but not much information around. A friend from Mexico told me how to nurse. I was very successful with her and with my 3rd and 4th baby. They had strong cow's milk allergies. I am grateful that they thrived on my milk.
Each of you has opportunity to have access to medical personnel whom support your decision, and information to help you decide. What you do not have is knowledge of your circumstances after the baby is born. If you must formula feed, cow's milk formula is not the only choice. Wet nurses used to be quite common, especially with the wealthy. I understand that milk banks can help during emergencies...and I suppose otherwise. Babies grow up strong, intelligent and healthy regardless. I believe that the decision must be made based on the health of the mother and the health of the baby. Of course human milk is best nutritionally, but so many formulas are excellent.
Intelligence increases as a result of human interaction;because, brains develop many more folds as the baby has experiences. You just must be more diligent in seeking the best nutrition for your baby. It is your responsibility and your joy to rear a healthy child. Other people do not need to know your circumstances. They do not love your baby as you do. As a matter of fact, if they even had compassion for your baby, why are they upsetting you and making you feel that you must reveal the difficult circumstances that caused your decision to formula feed (or when the pendulum swings to the other side, your decision to breast feed)? An informed decision based, on the right reasons, is proper and should not be subject to the opinion of other people with long noses. "My health care practitioners and I agree that this is best for baby and me" is more than they have the right to know.

Kristen Miele said...

Could you please remove the picture of the mom 'snoozing' while her baby sleeps on the bed and remove the comment that suggests mothers shoud do this....bed sharing with baby is VERY DANGEROUS and increases infant mortality. Thank you for all your thoughts though. This is great.

medionemeton said...

It is certainly not inferring that breastfed babies are a superior race. However, it is pointing out that breastfed babies - on average - gain weight differently and grow - on average - slightly differently than do formula fed babies. Unfortunately, most of the charts that babies are measured on are based on the normal - on average - rates for formula fed babies, so that breastfed babies look as if they are failing to grow normally, when this is not the case. THIS is what is meant when the author says they are not the same.

Bridget Carter said...

I had a terrible time with my son trying to breast feed!! He is such a curious one and had a wonderful latch but HATES to sit turned in or against my body. I started pumping as soon as the nurse gave my child formula in the hospital(which made me furious)...anyway he is 4 months and we are going strong with our "expressed breast milk" relationship and my little one still gets all the benifits of breastmilk and is 15 pounds. So you mamas dont feel forced to breast feed expressed milk is awesome too!

Kimberly Van Aken said...

I really enjoyed reading this article. Thank you for all of the information. I am a mom of 4, but there is a 12.5 year gap between the first 3 and our 2 month old. I feel like I remember nothing. I felt like this article was informative and not condescending in any way if a mom is bottle feeding. I breast fed for almost a year with my first child, only about 3 months with my second due to some allergy problem we could not figure out, and about 17 months with my 3rd. I don't know how long I will nurse with our 4th, but definitely as long as possible. Articles like this help encourage me to hang in a little longer if possible and I'm thankful for that. (Oh and I must address the comment made above about bed sharing, all 4 of my babies slept with me and not one of them were injured)

Madel Baljon - Lim said...

Thank you so much for this article! Gives me so much more encouragement to go on breastfeeding...16 months and counting here! :)

Lindart said...

I breast fed until my toddler didn't need it any more. We gave it a name "ta-ta" so I knew when she wanted to BF and she knew how to ask for it. Luckily she got her teeth late, around 1 year, and so could understand when biting hurt me, and she was able to be more gentle.She was a very healthy child, and had grown to a very healthy adult!

Lucy said...

A comment about that first breastfeed and why it's so important to let baby lead and not bathe the baby before he has nursed after birth: Those "annoying" hand movements are an integral part of not only the breast crawl (the cycling arm movements appear random when baby is on his back but if he is on his tummy you can see how he is using his arms and legs to propel himself upwards towards the breast). He also uses his hands to locate and mark the areola by feel, smell and taste. His hands smell like amniotic fluid, he sucks and smells them and then places them on the areola and imprints the areola with the amniotic fluid smell and taste. He also uses his fingers to locate the nipple and then evert it. Notice how baby sucks his hands, gropes the areola and then removes his hands and lunges right at the spot from which he has removed his hands - the areola! So clever! Unfortunately, adults are not so clever and instead of waiting for baby to finish his sequence, we pull baby's hands "out of the way" which is incredibly frustrating for baby. Or we bathe him so he can't smell or locate anything and then pass him around from family member to family member further confusing his sense of smell. Before a baby is ready to latch, he must orient himself in space, move himself up and locate the breast, areola and nipple, imprint it, evert it AND THEN lunge at it to latch. Mom just needs to assist baby. The important thing is to synch yourself with his movements and not interrupt them. And thus begins the most important aspect of breastfeeding: reading baby's signals.

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