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A troubleshooter’s guide to breastfeeding

The most natural and nutritious choice for your newborn, nursing also builds a special bond between mother and baby. In the early days of breastfeeding, many moms have questions. Here are some common concerns and tips on how to overcome them:

“My milk isn’t in yet and my baby seems too hungry.” It can take anywhere from two to seven days for your milk to come in, but your baby is still getting a valuable and highly nutritious liquid called colostrum, which is just what he or she needs right now. You should offer your baby eight to 12 feedings in a 24-hour period—at least once every three hours. The more your baby nurses, the quicker your milk will come in.

“I gave birth two days ago and now my breasts feel uncomfortably engorged.” It’s normal for a woman’s breasts to become fuller and firmer between the second and fourth day after delivery. This fullness usually decreases within the first two to three weeks. Keep nursing regularly and encourage baby to eat a good, full meal at each session. Remember, too, to alternate the breast baby nurses on first from feeding to feeding. Your hungry infant will more efficiently drain the first breast offered.

“My baby is not latching on well.” First, make yourself as comfortable as possible. Second, make sure baby is well supported. Your baby’s body should not be twisted and you should not have to lean toward him or her. If baby is properly attached to the breast, you’ll see that his or her mouth is open wide, the tips of the nose and chin touch the breast and the lips are turned out, not puckered in. You may even hear soft swallowing noises. Smacking and clicking noises mean baby is not attached properly.

“My breasts keep leaking!” This will probably abate once your milk production regulates. Until then, wear nursing pads to catch any leaks.

“Ouch! My nipples hurt!” Breastfeeding should not be painful. Nipple soreness is a sign that your baby is not latching onto your breast properly. For relief, express some milk and rub it over your nipples, then air out the breast without a bra for five minutes. Avoid soap, which can dry out the skin even more. If you continue to have problems, contact a lactation consultant. She can help you find the correct nursing position and may recommend a lanolin cream.

“Is my baby getting enough?” In the absence of counted ounces of formula, never forget that you and your baby are the perfect model of efficiency. As long as you nurse regularly, your production will keep pace with baby’s changing needs. For a good measure of whether baby is getting enough, make sure he or she wets and/or soils at least four to six diapers a day. And don’t skip regular visits to the pediatrician, where your baby will be weighed. As long as he or she is gaining well, you’re doing a great job!