If you didn't decide during your pregnancy, now is the time to decide how you will feed your baby. Breast feeding is strongly encouraged by this practice. Mother's milk provides all the nutrients and water your baby will need. It also creates closeness between you and your baby. Here are some questions about feeding we are frequently asked by new mothers.

Q: I think I want to nurse my baby but I don't know what to expect.
     What must I do to be able to nurse my baby?

A: Keep taking your prenatal vitamins. Your body will benefit from the added vitamins and minerals. Your appetite and thirst may increase. By adding 500 calories a day to your non-pregnancy diet and drinking up to three quarts of liquids a day, your body will do the rest. You don't need to diet while nursing your baby. Nursing often helps new mothers return to their pre-pregnant weight quickly. As far as your medications are concerned, whatever you take for yourself can be passed to the baby in your milk. Always ask your doctor before you take any medications. Your period may be delayed while you breast feed. However, you can still become pregnant. Consult your OB/GYN with your questions about birth control. Periods will not affect the quality of your milk. During the first weeks you are home with your infant, you can feel very tired.
You might also feel "low" or "blue". Don't feel guilty about:

  • Being tired and needing or wanting help
  • Taking a nap when your baby does
  • Taking care of basic necessities by eating simple meals, resting and overlooking housekeeping details
  • Your body will need time to adjust. You may experience sore breasts and nipples


Q: My baby cries and acts hungry all the time. How do I get her on a schedule?
     How do I know my baby is getting enough to eat?

A:  Not all of your baby's crying is because of hunger. Some babies have the need to be held snugly and close to mother. The need to suck for some infants can be very strong. Offering your baby a pacifier can help satisfy her/him. Term babies need to eat every 2-3 hours. Nursing from both breasts for 10-15 minutes will provide what baby needs. Remember that the newborn baby has a small stomach. Three ounces per feeding is expected. As babies grow they become more efficient eaters and will get the amount they need at each feeding. Your baby is getting enough milk if she wets or soils at least 6-8 diapers a day. She will be alert, responsive and gain about 1 ounce per day.

Q: Can I give my baby breast milk in a bottle?
     I'd like to sleep longer at night and let her daddy feed her.

A: Breast milk can be expressed by hand or electric pump. This can be done before or after a feeding. Store the expressed milk in the freezer for supplementary feedings. Remember cleanliness is very important. Have the equipment washed and hands clean. Breast milk is best stored in plastic bottles. Don't forget to label the container with the date if it is going to be frozen. Thaw breast milk by gentle heating and use within two to three hours. Do NOT use microwave to heat milk.

Q: I cannot nurse my baby and I feel like a bad mother.
     Will my baby be sick a lot because I am using formula?

A: We encourage mothers to nurse their infants. However, due to various reasons ( mother's health, past medical history, etc.) some mothers must use formula. The infant formulas developed by pharmaceutical companies are designed to provide the nutrients as close to human milk as possible. Much research and development has occurred to provide these products for your infant. They are a safe alternative if you cannot breast-feed your child. There may be occasions when your baby does not seem to do well with a particular formula. Check with your pediatric health care provider before you make a change. We can help guide you through the different choices on the market.

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