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Mommy & Baby: Facts On Feeding

By Kirsten Hawkins

How you choose to feed your baby, bottle or breast, is a decision you alone get to make. Do not listen to pressure from outside sources that tell you that you “must” choose one way or another in order to be a “good mom,” or that you are “doing harm to your baby” if you opt against what they tell you. The fact is, your baby needs food. If you give your baby the nutrition she needs, you are a good mom. Period! Whatever form of feeding you choose, the most important thing to consider is the gentle, tender cuddling you provide for your baby during the feeding.

Mother’s milk is the complete and perfect food, and is nothing short of miraculous. But if you choose to feed formula, you’re not a bad mother, and you’re not doing irreparable harm to your precious bundle of joy. While breastfeeding is preferred by most pediatricians, there are women who are unable to successfully nurse their babies, and then there are moms who are unable to sustain the feeding patterns they are told are “necessary” to breastfeed.

With parent-directed feeding (PDF), parents will feed their babies on a 2-3 flexible routine based on the baby’s cues. Crying is a late hunger cue, so don’t assume that your baby doesn’t need food until she cries. Some newborns can go 5-6 hours between feedings, which is entirely inadequate for their nutritional needs. This is why solely following baby’s cues may lead to a sickly, undernourished baby who has failure to thrive. Under-fed babies often lack the strength to cry and thus don’t get fed at the appropriate intervals.

So how do you nurse successfully with PDF? You establish the routine—most newborns can go between 2.5-3 hours between feedings. This time is counted from the beginning of feeding to the beginning of feeding. Latch the baby on to your breast appropriately and allow the baby to nurse. Your child will receive foremilk first—a watery thin milk with little nutritive value.

As your baby drinks the foremilk, you will experience letdown in which your glands will release the rest of the milk stored in them—sometimes this is tingly or painful, other times moms have no sensation. The milk your baby now gets is the hindmilk, it is rich, fatty, and full of nutrients. The best indication that you’ve achieved letdown is the consistent and rhythmic swallowing as your baby nurses. Once your milk comes in, most mommies have success nursing for 15 minutes per side, which permits baby to receive the hindmilk she needs to grow strong and healthy.

About the author:
Kirsten Hawkins is a baby and parenting expert specializing new mothers and single parent issues. Visit more information on how to raising healthy, happy children.

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