Regimented vs. On Demand
September 8, 2005 2:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for opinions and experiences on breast feeding.

My wife is days away from giving birth to our first baby (a girl!) and we are looking for opinions on how to breast feed her. As most parents probably know, there are two schools of thought: regimented breast feeding (letting baby cry and only feeding her at certain times) and on-demand breast feeding (giving baby milk whenever she seems to ask for it). We are really interested in hearing about all of your experiences. Any long term issues? Also, when do bottles come into play?
posted by sic to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
First, remember neither your baby nor your wife will have done this before...the first important thing is to make sure the baby latches on correctly (have a nurse or consultant help your wife with that-it's important!)

Next, you need to do demand feeding especially at first because that is what establishes the milk supply.

After that you can kinda have a modified schedule, but I wouldn't make it rigid. Also remember the breast is also about comfort not just nutrition-there's a need for the baby to suck that is not just about getting fed.

And please know that it may take several weeks to get fully adjusted to nursing. Your wife will have some soreness etc....make sure she has plenty of nursing bras (they get wet.) It is worth it to persevere thru the problems because nursing is much easier than washing bottles!

Email me if you have specific questions-I nursed three, switching the middle one to a bottle at three months because I was pregnant with her sister. (yup, you read that right.) I don't think that much has changed in the process since the eighties!
posted by konolia at 4:11 AM on September 8, 2005

First things first. Make sure that your daughter is latching on properly. (Neither one of my kids had a problem, but I know more than a few babies who have.)

Definitely start with demand feeding. Newborns have tiny tummies, and are doing a lot of growing. They need to be fed often. As Konolia said, it's also what establishes the milk supply.

We stayed pretty much with demand feeding until the kids weaned themselves. It's easier on everyone emotionally, but only really works if mom is with the baby all the time. Whatever you do, don't go to a rigid "baby eats at 4-8-12 etc" schedule. She will have growth spurts where she eats a lot, and other periods where she won't eat much at all. The biggest problem I see with the strict feeding schedule is waking her up to eat, or pulling her away from something she's enjoying to feed her (I've seen "schedule" moms do both!).

At the most hard-core, bottles don't come into play until she's drinking something other than breast milk. Other people will say that giving a baby a bottle of formula every once in a while (say, while they're in the middle of a growth spurt and mom is sick) is fine. I think it's important that your daughter at least be familiar with a bottle before she *needs* one (mom's gone, or sick, or she needs more than mom's got and is frantic with hunger). My kids both got occasional bottles, and it didn't affect their ability to latch on to the nipple.
posted by jlkr at 4:48 AM on September 8, 2005

Warning: Long post. Meant to answer your question, and support your decision!

My wife has been breastfeeding for about five months now, and it continues to be "on demand" (of course, baby only "demands" every 3.5 hours or so, and sleeps quite well through the night).

There will be times that your wife will feel like a "nursing machine", that baby will be latched on nearly all day (babies go through 3-4 different growth spurts that can prompt seemingly constant nursing, around 3 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks and 9 weeks). There is likely to be soreness (anybody who says "if it hurts, you're doing it wrong" is wrong; if it hurts, you might be doing it wrong, or you might be just sore from all the sucking and tongue rubbing), and my wife swore by Soothies to help.

A quality breast pump is important, too; there may come a time when a milk duct gets plugged, and if baby can't nurse it free, a pump may be able to work it loose. As well, if mom isn't there to feed baby, bottled breastmilk is the next best thing.

The moment you try to apply a schedule to nursing is the moment her breasts will slow down their production of milk. They were created/evolved/whatever your preference to feed a baby when she needs it, and will automatically produce exactly what baby needs exactly when she needs it.

We started introducing a bottle around 6-7 weeks, and only as an introduction to prepare our son for bottled breastmilk when my wife went back to work. If you try a bottle too early (less than 5-6 weeks or so), baby won't understand.

The nurse at the hospital, once baby is born, might suggest that your wife should supplement with formula, "because her milk hasn't come in yet, and won't for a few days." While the quote is true, the requirement to supplement is not. Mothers have been giving their children breastmilk for millennia, without malnourished or unhealthy kids. In fact, that "pre-milk" (colostrum) that is there before her milk comes in helps to give your baby antibodies, calories, and helps to clear out her digestive tract of that black-green, tarry poop-like substance.

It's actually quite an amazing thing, breastfeeding, and you're a great husband for supporting her in this way. Keep up the support, keep up the research, and don't let anyone try to convince you that it isn't the right thing to do. It's a wonderful, wonderful thing for mom to nurse her baby, and you'll think it's absolutely miraculous the first time your baby is weighed by the doctor and has gained two pounds, all from mommy's milk.
posted by Merdryn at 5:06 AM on September 8, 2005

Is this something your wife wants to do, or you want her to do? It's nice to see a father supporting breastfeeding (many men feel proprietary about their wives' breasts) but I'm wondering why you're asking for her and she hasn't already researched this herself. She really, really has to want to breastfeed, or it will all go down the tubes. That said, check out La Leche League.
posted by Joleta at 5:06 AM on September 8, 2005

I'll assume your wife is asking this question with you and you happen to be the one with the MeFi account, heh. I've breastfed two so far - my first son is just over 2 and is almost weaned; my second son is 5 months old next week.

It really helps to have access to someone that will assist you with any questions or issues you run into - La Leche League, your midwife, an LC (Lactation Consultant), and so on. Even a mother that's breastfed before for some time is a help, because you've never done it before and you probably haven't had a lot of exposure to it so you don't know what to expect. Kellymom is one of the best online resources out there and is the "bible" that the members of the breastfeeding group I read constantly refer to. LLL or a good LC is excellent help for checking the baby's latch.

On-demand feeding establishes your milk supply. The baby will nurse more when she needs it and that will boost your milk supply up to what she needs. The baby should nurse at least once every four hours, although if a baby is healthy and full-term I wouldn't wake her up to nurse if she slept a bit longer than four hours. Your breasts will tell you anyway; they'll get very engorged at first when the baby goes a while without feeding. Putting a tiny baby on a breastfeeding schedule would be quite hard on both the baby and mother, and there isn't any reason to do it; it can affect your milk supply adversely and be actively harmful. The baby's feeds will eventually become more predictable after a while on their own.

You should try not to use bottles in the first six weeks so the baby doesn't get nipple confusion (it's easier to suck off a bottle nipple than a breast, and a baby that gets used to the bottle very early can have a very hard time nursing). Get a good manual pump - I use an Avent Isis (and get a quality electric pump if the mother is returning to work) - and make sure not to give bottles of formula, only bottles of expressed breast milk; formula supplementation can screw up your milk supply and lead to many problems, since every bottle of formula you give is a time you're not nursing/pumping and your body will respond as if the baby needs less milk, which of course is not so.

Don't leave a tiny baby to cry, especially for food - I mean, if you are going to the bathroom or something and you have to wait a couple minutes to pick up the baby, that's one thing, but otherwise pick the baby up when she cries, find out what she needs - babies cry because they are hungry, wet, need to be held... you can't spoil a little baby. Responding to them when they communicate makes them feel secure.

I would say the most important things you need to successfully breastfeed are support and information. It's rough going if you're surrounded by people that don't understand why you're breastfeeding and think you should bottle-feed. And sad to say but many doctors, pediatricians, and nurses give breastfeeding information that is outdated or erroneous. (When my first son was born the nurses gave us tons of incorrect information which gave us some trouble initially - and it's unfortunate that this is not at all uncommon.) It's useful to join a group so whenever you run into issues you can ask and get the support you need.

If you have further questions feel free to email me. I am more than happy to help.
posted by Melinika at 6:19 AM on September 8, 2005

My wife breastfed all 3 of our children for over a year each, so I have enough experience to tell you that your child's personality, your wife's comfort level, and the chaos of life in general will dictate much of how this all ends up working. It's difficult to plan things involving the ever-random infant. WIth that said, there is plenty of awesome advice already in this thread.

You didn't ask about this but I think it bears mentioning:
You will miss your wife's breasts. Talk to her about this, and do not go groping at them without explicit (preferably written) permission. My wife is very sexual and we maintain a great sex life, but while she was nursing those things were purely utilitarian for her - so just make sure you have the conversation.
posted by glenwood at 6:34 AM on September 8, 2005

Another long post here. Even though a lot of what I have to say is similar, I figured I'll add my 2cents too. My son is 7 months old today and he's my first so my experience is more limited but also quite fresh. The first point I want to reiterate is that this has to be your wife's choice. Breastfeeding a baby is extremely beneficial for both the baby and the mom but it can also be quite challenging especially in the beginning and she needs to be very determined to stick it through.

I was very adamant that my baby would be breastfed. This is not a tradition in my family so it was all the more important to me. One of the first things I was told was to let the baby latch on immediately after birth. This was in our birth plan and the doctors /nurses respected it. My son was on my breast before he opened his eyes and they cleaned him as he suckled on me. As someone else already mentioned the colostrum you make in the first few days is more than enough for the baby's nutrition at the age she is at. When they are born, their stomach tiny and colostrum gives them all they need. We had problems where my son latched on fine but wouldn't swallow. So I had to pump colostrum (very hard) and feed it to him by putting a syringe next to my breast and make him feel like he was sucking it out of my breast. Once her milk comes in such problems are rare (the more common one is the baby refusing to latch - which also will get resolved with hard work and determination). We had lactation consultants from the hospital help me and I would definitely recommend seeking help if you have any problems. After all the hormonal craziness that is giving birth, your wife doesn't need to get frustrated about this and feel alone.

Almost everyone I know had sore breasts in the first few weeks at least. It's common to get plugged ducts, thrush, mastitis or any of them. I was lucky and only got plugged ducts every now and then and my son would fix them immediately but I know many who aren't as lucky so those are also issues that need to get handled immedaitely as they are some of the primary reasons moms stop feeding.

Most doctors say that by 3-4 months breastfeeding is completely established for mom and baby. It was considerably sooner for me but I wanted you to know the numbers in case it takes your wife that long, so she doesn't get discouraged. What everyone else said about frequent feedings keeping up her supply is also true and crucial especially in the beginning. If you have a good sleeper (and I so wish that upon you) for a while your wife's breasts will hurt at night but they will adjust automatically.

I was told to introduce the bottle around 6 weeks. BEfore that might be too soon and cause nipple confusion and after that some babies supposedly never take the bottle if you wait too long. I work from home but wanted the option of my husband feeding him or being able to feed him from a bottle of breastmilk in public. My son took the bottle like a champ (We used Avent). Sometimes you have to try different bottles/nipples but almost all babies will be ok with one or another. I would recommend introducing the bottle, just to have the option available (not with formula but with pumped milk, in my opinion). The nipple confusion issue applies to pacifiers as well and they are not recommended until breastfeeding is completely established just so you know. Again, my son had no issue with this but I've heard of others who have.

As for the pump, even though I work from home on a very felxible schedule where I can feed my son anytime, I still highly recommmend electric pumps if you can afford it. I was planning on buying a manual one but ended up getting the Medela (a very expensive but top-of-the-line pump) at the hospital when I had the colostrum issues. The manual pumps are a lot of hard work (at least it was for me, my personal opinion) and the electric one does most of the owrk for you. Pumping for me was /is never a pleasant experience so I prefer to get it over as quickly as possible, the electric helps me with that. Unless there's something wrong, they recommend not pumping for the first few weeks. (until breast feeding is established. ( But i would highly recommend pumping soon after even if she doesn't need to. I waited too long and pumped right before we wanted to introduce the bottle and for two weeks, I couldn't get more than 1-2oz. Eventually I got up to 8-10oz but it took a while and it was very frustrating. Pumping is necessary if you want to introduce bottle of breastmilk and also later when she is eating solids you may want to mix them with breastmilk instead of formula.

I also recommend Kelly online and LLL. Just so you know breastfeeding is a personal choice and it's important your wife doesn't feel pressured to do one way over another.

As for schedules, we didn't ever introduce that however, my son had a lot of trouble staying asleep even at five months and it was partly because it was too easy for me to rush to him each time he cried and feed him since it required no preparation and i had no idea how much he drank so I could tell myself he needed more. After four months or so, most babies don't need more than two feedings a night and it's important not to feed them just cuz you can. This is another issue where people's opinions differ but I wanted to put it out there in case it happened to you too.

as with others, feel free to email me if you have any more questions. good luck on the delivery congratulations on having a girl and good luck on all the challenging but indescribably beautiful moments that are sure to find you in the next few months/years.
posted by karen at 7:29 AM on September 8, 2005

Lots of good advice here, but I'd like to add that the entire notion of trying to get an infant to adapt to adult schedules, demands and expectations is completely nuts and one of the most damaging ideas to enter parental thought.

Trying to teach a child a lesson they're too young to comprehend (such as now is time to eat, and now is not time to eat) doesn't prevent future problems, it causes them. I realize it's difficult to be their slave for years, but that's what you signed up for.

Giving them precisely what they tell you they need right when they need it, especially when they're so tiny, is how you get their trust and cooperation for when they're older. There's a reason your instincts tell you to pick up a crying baby. Don't let your baby's first lesson be 'I won't always be there when you need me.' You're setting the stage for a battle of wills, and they will definitely rise to the challenge as they grow.

Also, I know there's this whole no-kids-in-the-bed thing, but from our experience, if you can let your baby nurse and sleep in the bed with you, everyone will be closer, more rested, and happier. YMMV. Congratulations, and have fun.
posted by ulotrichous at 7:48 AM on September 8, 2005

All good points above. A few thoughts: My wife was determined to breast feed, but the first few weeks were just brutal, and she almost gave up several times. We'd gotten 10 different and conflicting bits of advice from 10 different nurses at the hospital.

Salvation came in the form of a lactation consultant, who showed us that really subtle changes in the positioning of mom and baby make a huge difference, and whose general support and enthusiasm was a big boost for us. After about week 8 things were humming along, and my wife is so glad she stuck with it. So if things are tough, don't get too discouraged and have a professional come for a visit. Even if she wasn't helping with lactation, the arrival of someone supportive and kind really helped all three of us get through that stretch after the family help leaves and you realize you're on your own as parents.

In terms of schedule, your situation will drive it to some extent, but we found a middle ground between the extremes worked best. My wife nursed her whenever she was hungry but made a very gentle effort to try and have a consistent time elapse between feedings (once we were beyond the first few weeks), but we never woke her to try and adhere to some arbitrary schedule. We also had (still have, sometimes!) our daughter in bed with us, and those times were always precious, even if she moved around like a rotisserie chicken. Waking up feeling hands on your side, and turning to look into her face with a big smile on it and a "hi da da" greeting is the best way to start the day.

We avoided a bottle in fear of the "nipple confusion" and found that when we needed a bottle (when my wife began pumping to go back to work) we had a hell of time getting my daughter to drink from it. It's just our opinion, (and it's entirely possible we simply waited too long) but I find the idea that a baby (even a newborn) can't tell the difference between mom and a rubber nipple hard to believe, and we're planning on being a lot quicker to introduce the bottle if/when number two comes along. Karen is right in that you may need to experiment with many different kinds, we also found Avent to be the best.

In terms of pumps, my wife, our consultant, the folks we talked to at the hospital, and other friends who've nursed and pumped all agree that Medela (link to the model my wife has) makes the best breast pumps, but certainly check with the people/professionals you know to get their opinions.
posted by jalexei at 7:55 AM on September 8, 2005

Thanks for all the great advice!

Just to clear up a few issues: my wife is definitely pro-breastfeeding, always has been, but I wrote the question because she's not a member of MetaFilter and English is not her first language. I think we are thoroughly convinced that "on demand" is the way to go at first and we will let Naima (that's our daughter's name) fix her own schedule as we go on. A couple of questions, here in Spain women only get 4 months of maternity leave, so from what I understand, she should start using a pump at around 3 months to get used to it and prepare for eventual bottle feeding (with breast milk) when she goes back to work, correct? Also, Melinka is still breast feeeding her two year old and Karen I believe said that the minimum is 4 months of breast-feeding, the question is what is the average time for breast-feeding, that is, when should we feed her other foods? Does she decide this as well? I suppose at some point we have to at least offer her alternatives, right?

Glenwood: thanks for the frank advice about post-partum male breast access :) I hadn't really thought about that, and I am a bit of a groper...

Jalexi: I like the idea of sleeping with the baby, but I am a terrible sleeper (I toss and turn) and I also, ahem, often wake up in the morning with an erection. Can't be helped. I'm not sure if I'd like my baby subjected to that (even my wife grows weary of that physicological trait... Do other men have this problem gift? Seriously.)

Again, thanks to everybody for the fantastic answers.
posted by sic at 8:06 AM on September 8, 2005

I just want to add a couple of thoughts to the excellent advice so far. First, definitely feed on demand, but if you start to exercise a schedule in other ways as the baby gets older - bath, naps, outings - then feeding time will often start to fall into a routine. I've found that babies like schedules - not rigid timetables, but predictable activities that add sense to their day and provide a sort of comfort as a result.

Second, my pediatrician told me to introduce a bottle to my second child around the first month; otherwise the baby might be more resistant to the idea. I know that goes against all the advice that others have said, but I waited until 2 months, and we've had a hard time getting him to take the bottle. Make sure you try a couple of different nipple types to see which one your baby likes best.

Finally, I think it's great that you want to breastfeed. It's wonderful for both parent and child. But - if it doesn't work, don't sweat it too much. My first child wouldn't nurse for the first three months, and they were a miserable three months for both of us - I spent literally all my time pumping and feeding and trying to latch, and it exacerbated my postpartum depression something fierce. At the time, I was pretty isolated socially - living in a new place, no mom friends - and when I turned to the internet for help, all I found were accounts, ranging from severe to hysterical, about how bad formula was, and what a bad mother I would be if I gave up. Now, I know moms who breastfed, moms who gave formula, moms who used a combination, and I couldn't tell the difference in their kids - they're all fine. But I found nursing to be a more emotional experience than I thought it would be - it went from seeming like a practical convenience to feeling like a measure of my worth as a mother. So given my experience with internet nursing advice, I just wanted to offer the advice that it's ok to stop breastfeeding if it makes you and the baby miserable. I think it's hard for everyone for the first few weeks, but if the problems drag on for much longer, and it affects your relationship with your baby, it's not child abuse to reach for the Similac.

Good luck
posted by bibliowench at 8:19 AM on September 8, 2005

Jalexi: I like the idea of sleeping with the baby, but I am a terrible sleeper (I toss and turn) and I also, ahem, often wake up in the morning with an erection.

The baby will neither notice nor care about the erection ;-) but if you toss and turn you may rightly feel uncomfortable with an infant in bed. There are a number of devices that go into or attach to the side of the bed that allow Mom easy access to baby but protect her from sleeping adults.

For food other than breastmilk, it's usually between 4 and 6 months. Our pediatrician had us start a bit early as our daughter had a minor case of reflux, and she (pediatrician) felt it would help that. Your daughter will also let you know when she's ready, by expressing interest in what other people are eating (not that you'd start with that, of course). We've had several friends whose kids all started pointing at bananas when they were ready to add baby food and mashed up fruits and veggies.

As to breastmilk, our daughter still nurses twice a day (wake-up and bedtime) at 18 months, so you can (and I'd say should) go as long as your daughter is interested.

And I'll second the, ahem, sexual issues as well. My wife's breasts belong to my daughter, not me (if they ever did)

So given my experience with internet nursing advice, I just wanted to offer the advice that it's ok to stop breastfeeding if it makes you and the baby miserable. I think it's hard for everyone for the first few weeks, but if the problems drag on for much longer, and it affects your relationship with your baby, it's not child abuse to reach for the Similac.

Agreed - I think it's important to try, but it's not the end of the world if it just doesn't work. I have no respect for a friend of ours that didn't breastfeed because she thought it was "icky", but in almost any other case, I respect people who realize it's ultimately what works for them that matters.
posted by jalexei at 8:28 AM on September 8, 2005

She should have a mentor--a friend or family member that has breastfed and will be available to answer questions and things.

Nursing pads are a necessity. I liked the washable ones, but disposables are available, too. Whatever you do, *don't* buy anything with a layer of plastic in it or that isn't "breathable."

Which brings me to another thing: the nipples will need air. Lots of fresh air, especially during the early, leaky weeks. Relieve engorgement with a bag of frozen peas, cold cabbage and/or the breast pump mentioned above.

I stayed at home with my first son for a year, so he only had bottles of expressed milk when someone else wanted to feed him. He kind of fell into a schedule of his own at about 4 months and weaned at 14 months. My second son had to start taking bottles at six weeks, though, and he started daycare at 4 months old. The daycare did demand feeding with him until he was 6 months old, but when he was with me, it was all on-demand feeding. He dropped down to twice a day after his first birthday, and weaned after his second birthday.

Now, for all the brou-ha-ha about breastfeeding in public, no one ever had the gall to hassle me about it. Your wife should practice in front of a mirror just to reassure herself that she's not really flashing everyone when she nurses.

Rather than using a blanket or shawl, my favorite clothing combo while nursing is some kind of knit shirt I can lift at the waist and a separate cardigan or overshirt. Then the only thing anyone ever sees is maybe a sliver of your tummy. Plus, there is something about opening a button-down shirt from the top that kind of draws the eye down and demands more attention, like this. Now compare that to this or this. See what I mean?

Now, if she chooses to nurse only in private, your job as Dad will be to find a nice private nursing spot (NOT THE BATHROOM) whenever you arrive someplace you've never been before. That way, when the little one decides it's time to eat, you won't be frantically searching for a spot.

And yes, if she can figure out the nursing-while-lying-down thing, you will all get lots more sleep. And don't worry, baby probably won't notice any "morning wood" for several years--she is going to be too fixated on her food source for the first few months anyway, kind of like this frustrated little guy (NSFW). Good luck!
posted by whatnot at 8:37 AM on September 8, 2005

Breastfeeding in public is not a big deal in Spain. In fact, I was meeting with a client (who I already knew, but I'm not a close friend or anything) the other day in an outdoor cafe filled with people, she's French, and she had her 5 month old daughter with her and when the baby started to mewl a bit she discreetly took out her bra pad and pulled up her shirt (kind of the way you described) and started feeding her, without pausing our conversation. Nobody in the area batted an eye, although I began to ask her questions about breast feeding..! The breast (or nudity) is not as sexualized in Europe as it is in the United States. Personally, I think that breast-feeding is about the absolute anthesis of lewd, it's actually quite endearing to watch.
posted by sic at 8:51 AM on September 8, 2005

Reality check here: Not all women have an easy time or are 100% successful at breastfeeding. Some are just not able to produce enough milk no matter how much the baby sucks, how often they pump or what their nutrition is. If your wife is one of those who are unable to nurse without supplimental feedings, please convey to her that this is not her fault and that she's not doing it wrong.

Many believe women produce roughly the same amount of milk. How I wish this were so. My girlfriends became engorged when their milk kicked in. I did not. Their milk was in within 3 or 4 days. I was still producing only colostrum until day 10. One girlfriend could pump 8 oz from one breast at one pump session. I was lucky to produce 6 oz total in a day no matter how much I pumped or how long my son nursed. One girlfriend pumped one breast while her son nursed on the other. By the time he was 6 months old, she ceased nursing and had enough breastmilk stored to last several more months.

I tried nursing exclusively for 2 and half months to give my body enough time to get the breastfeeding firmly established. My son was always hungry and was so skinny. It was miserable to see him like that. As soon as I started supplimental feedings, he started putting on weight. By the time he was 5 months, he wasn't nursing at all because I was not producing anything. I felt like such a failure because I couldn't feed him the way I wanted to. I did work with a lactation consultant in addition to the nurses in the hospital. I also consulted my son's pediatrician to make sure he wasn't dangerously under weight.

What I learned from this is little professional support or understanding exists from nursing experts or other nursing mothers when a woman just doesn't produce enough milk. It was so disheartening. I also learned that there is nothing wrong with bottle feeding and that the colostrum is the most important part of nursing to help establish the baby's immune system.

So, I honestly hope your wife's experience is the opposite of mine. May she leak milk and have enough to supply your baby and more.
posted by onhazier at 9:09 AM on September 8, 2005

Oh, and by the way, Morning Wood (which actually used to refer to trees) is very common and has nothing to do with sex. I've read that both men and women become erect during REM sleep, regardless of dream content, but it's um, hard to find good links about the issue.
posted by ulotrichous at 9:16 AM on September 8, 2005

so from what I understand, she should start using a pump at around 3 months to get used to it and prepare for eventual bottle feeding (with breast milk) when she goes back to work, correct?
I would recommend starting as soon as breastfeeding is established and she feels comfortable. Breastmilk can freeze at least 3-4months so an early supply will never hurt. She will, of course, also need to pump at work if she wants to use breastmilk exclusively and just so you know, once you move from baby sucking to pumping most of the time, the supply will diminish considerably so if she can, she should have the baby suck as often/much as possible when she's home. And if she will be pumping, I would strongly recommend the Medela Pump in Style. It's expensive but a great pump and if you plan on having more than one baby, it will be worth the money.

Also, Melinka is still breast feeeding her two year old and Karen I believe said that the minimum is 4 months of breast-feeding, the question is what is the average time for breast-feeding, that is, when should we feed her other foods?
Most people i know recommend waiting until she's six months old. Any time you introduce solids, you're opening up the possiblities for allergies. Most babies don't need solids before six months. Some babies with severe reflux or those who are very underweight might and your doctor would tell you if that's the case. Just as an FYI, most people claim solids will get your baby to sleep through the night, this is NOT true. it's a wive's tale and a bad reason to start solids. Most peds also recommend not waiting long after six months since babies need iron a lot at that point and breastmilk doesn't have enough of it. In the US, it is often recommended to start solids with rice cereal mixed with breastmilk since it's the least-likely food to cause an allergic reaction. My son loved solids but sometimes babies prefer breastmilk so it may take a bit to get solids working don't worry.

as for sleeping with the baby, that's a very personal choice. all three pediatricians i went to here tried to discourage me from doing it. they claimed a lot of parents roll over and kill their babies. this supposedly is possible if you're a smoker/deep sleeper/extremely fat. honestly, i was not for sleeping with my son but in the first few weeks, i slept with him on my chest all the time and i loved every moment of it and would have never dropped him ever. most of the books i read recommend that the baby sleeps between mom and the wall, not between mom and dad. they claim (their claim not mine) that dads aren't as intuitively built not to roll over the baby but a mom wouldn't. i don't know how much of that is hogwash but i wanted to put it out there just in case. my son slept between me and my hubby often and we had no problems ever. we also have a bed in his room that i lie and nurse on often and i love that setup.

as for the groping/breast ownership, i'll say that's a personal issue too. I didn't have any issues with it past the first few weeks when they were really sore. now that my son is sleeping, my breasts are very full in the morning and really tender to the touch but otherwise, i don't feel like they are only there for my son. just so you know, when you do go back to being sexually active after your daughter, at peak moments your wife's breasts might let down (milk comes spurting out) just so you're prepared for that.

posted by karen at 9:19 AM on September 8, 2005

oh and re: onhazier's comments. that is definitely the case. sometimes the milk doesn't come and sometimes the baby won't latch for a lot of different reasons. if she's really determined to do it, try to support your wife all the way but also make sure she knows it's not the end of the world if she can't do it for one reason or another. many babies grow up on formula and turn out perfectly fine.
posted by karen at 9:24 AM on September 8, 2005

If you pump/freeze breast milk, drop the temperature of your freezer or turn off its "frost-free" setting. The frozen milk will last longer.

My daughter had a weak suck and would breastfeed really only for comfort, not nutrition. My wife pumped enough to fill an entire chest freezer. We kept long term milk in deep freeze and brought up a weeks worth at a time to the regular freezer.
posted by plinth at 9:57 AM on September 8, 2005

just so you know, when you do go back to being sexually active after your daughter, at peak moments your wife's breasts might let down (milk comes spurting out) just so you're prepared for that.


oh, wheee!

Regarding my wife's lovely breasts: I never felt like I owned them per se, I've always felt more like I was a long-term property squatter ;)

Seriously, I think that she realizes that if she can't produce milk, its not a failure on her part, but thanks everybody for reminding us that not everything is in our hands.

posted by sic at 10:32 AM on September 8, 2005

The biggest secret was that once breastfeeding is established, about 2 weeks in our case, since The Boy had Jaws of Steel, and was born hungry, is that breastfeeding is so nice. Cuddly, cozy, time with baby. Sometimes resting, or reading paperbacks, since hardcovers were too bulky w/ baby in lap, sometimes watching tv or listening to music.

If it doesn't work, move on to the next challenge; there will be plenty.
posted by theora55 at 1:08 PM on September 8, 2005

« Older What do you wish you'd known when you were 18?   |   crop/resize tool Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.