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Thursday, September 8, 2011

How Much is Enough - Quantifiying Breast Feeding

The most common question I hear asked by new breastfeeding moms is "How do I know my baby is getting enough to eat?". Being that we live in a world where we quantify everything it is understandable that new moms would be concerned with this. New moms are often asked by those who have chosen not to breastfeed, "How much does the baby take?" "How many ounces does the baby want?". While some people look at not being able to quantify how much milk a baby is drinking as the down side to breastfeeding, I look at it as a good thing. It forces mom to learn the natural feeding cues of their baby. It builds a closeness and awareness of the baby.  I ask my patients when they ask me the question, "Is your baby gaining weight?" "Is the baby wetting after each feed?" "Is the baby happy and seemingly satisfied after feeding?". If the answer to all these questions is "YES" then that is how you KNOW your baby is getting enough to eat! So often new moms feel inadequate to make this assumption because those kind hearted good intentioned "helpers" (often times Grandma) are at the house welcoming the new baby. There was a generation or two of American women that missed out on breastfeeding all together. Doctors and the formula industry just assumed for those women that formula was easier and just as good for the baby. Some women weren't even given the chance to breastfeed. There is a big gap in breastfeeding education and understanding by that generation which in turn makes it difficult to understand that a baby can be getting plenty even if mom can't report how many ounces the baby is taking. I have found if mom is armed with this education before baby is born it can boost the confidence of the new mom so that in her sleep deprived state she can stand up to even the toughest mother or mother-in-law who is armed with a bottle and a kind heart and explain to them that breast is best.

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Thanks so much for your encouraging words!