Breastfeeding is one of those things that are really controversial for some reason, even though it’s the most natural thing in the world. Many new moms and moms to be find themselves drowning in questions. Should they breastfeed? How often? For how long? Are bottles that bad? Will their boob sag? What if the baby doesn’t want to breastfeed?
How long should you breastfeed?
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months after birth. This means your baby may not eat solids or drink any other fluids for that time. After that, it really is you and your family’s choice. The WHO says that you can combine breastfeeding with other sources of nourishment for 12-24 months after. A one-year-old can probably handle most of the food your family eats, but can still benefit from all the benefits of breast milk. Stronger bones, better immune system and overall health are worthy benefits. Breast is best, but if you want to go back to work (or gain a little bit of independence), you can start pumping milk and leave bottles in the fridge for other people to feed your baby too. Don’t worry if you can’t exclusively nurse for a whole six months. While that would be ideal, even one or two days of breast milk after birth (what is called “first milk” or “colostrum”) can make a big difference in your baby’s life.
How often should you breastfeed?
This really depends on how old your baby is. At first, your newborn might be feeding every two hours or so. During the first month it may feel like you are nursing around the clock, but this is expected. While your milk supply gets established, feeding is usually done on demand, which means every time your baby is hungry. Don’t worry, as the baby grows older, both of you will set in a more stable routine and intervals between feeding times will grow longer. however, you should be careful to never let a newborn go more than four hours without feeding, even overnight. So set up those alarms. By two months of age, the baby will probably be feeding 7-9 times a day, and this number will go lower with every month. When talking to your doctor, remember that “time between feedings” is counted from the time your baby starts nursing to the time he starts nursing again. So “every two hours” really does feel like “around the clock”. How long it takes to nurse depends on the baby. Some babies are more “efficient” than others at nursing, so they might take five to ten minutes per breast. Other may take about twenty minutes per breast. How often you switch depends on you. You might want to switch in the middle of it, or you might want to alternate breasts with every nursing. If you use that route, a safety pin on your bra might help you remember which breast your baby nursed from last.