Tag Archives: feeding with love and respect

The Family Table

By Judy Sanders, member of API’s Board of Directors and API’s Editorial Review Board

the family tableIt’s dinnertime somewhere. Families sit around a dining table, or gather around a short-legged table, or settle on a rug in a circle. A baby may be in a high chair or on his mother’s back, having food handed to him. He may be in a hammock, gently pushed every so often, dozing, not eating, and absorbing the sounds of his family enjoying their evening meal.

Why regularly share the evening meal as a family? How does this routine activity serve us beyond nourishment? Continue reading The Family Table

Breastfeeding after Sexual Abuse

By Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, member of API’s Resource Advisory Council and API’s Editorial Review Board, adapted from Breastfeeding Made Simple by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

Breastfeeding after sexual abuseFor survivors of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault, breastfeeding can pose challenges. Unfortunately, sexual abuse and assault are relatively common experiences, affecting 20% to 25% of women. The reactions of abuse survivors to breastfeeding run the whole range of responses – from really disliking it to finding it tremendously healing.

Surprisingly, research has shown us that abuse survivors are more likely to breastfeed. The two published studies on this topic showed that abuse survivors had a higher intention to breastfeed and a higher rate of breastfeeding initiation. Our research has also shown that a higher percentage of mothers who were abuse or assault survivors were breastfeeding compared with mothers without a trauma history. We have also found higher rates of Attachment Parenting behaviors, such as bed-sharing, among the abuse and assault survivors.

If you are an abuse survivor who wants to breastfeed, I congratulate you for making a positive life choice to overcome your past and parent well. However, there still may be some difficulties you face as you breastfeed your baby or child. If you are having a difficult time, here are some suggestions that might help:

  • Figure out what makes you uncomfortable – Is it nighttime feeding? Is it your baby touching other parts of your body while nursing? Is it when the baby attaches to your breast? Or all of the above? The intense physical contact of breastfeeding may be very uncomfortable for you. You might find breastfeeding painful, because your abuse experience lowered your pain threshold. The act of breastfeeding may also trigger flashbacks.
  • Can you address the problem? – If skin-to-skin contact is bothering you, can you put a towel or cloth between you and the baby? Can you avoid the feedings that make you uncomfortable? Nighttime feedings are often good candidates. Would you be more comfortable if you pumped and fed your baby with a bottle? Can you hold your baby’s other hand while breastfeeding to keep her from touching your body? Can you distract yourself while breastfeeding with TV or a book? Several mothers have shared with me that works well for them. Experiment, be flexible, and find out what helps.
  • Remember that some breastfeeding is better than none – You may not be able to fully breastfeed, but every little bit helps, even if you must pump milk and use a bottle or if you are only breastfeeding once a day. Some abuse survivors find that they never love breastfeeding, but they learn to tolerate it. And that may be a more realistic goal for you.

Past abuse does not have to influence the rest of your life. I know many abuse survivors who have become wonderful mothers. I’m confident that you can, too. Nurturing your baby through breastfeeding is a great place to start.

From Fear to Breastfeeding

By Grace Zell, staff writer for The Attached Family

To breastfeed or bottle-nurse?When I was pregnant for the first time, I wasn’t sure what I would do and I was actually a little afraid of committing to breastfeeding and being my child’s sole source of sustenance.

After my son was born, I decided to combine breastfeeding and bottle-nursing. I was ready with a breast pump, sterilized bottles, and formula. My son was a very alert and agitated infant, and he awakened every hour during the night in the beginning. Bottle-nursing gave me the ability to sleep for a four-hour shift while my husband took over. I had planned to fill the bottles with breast milk, but my son was such a high-needs infant that I fell behind with pumping and, after about three weeks, gave up completely and used formula in his bottles.

An Early End to Breastfeeding

I had been unable to get my son to latch on for nursing and did not get very nurturing support from the lactation staff at our hospital. They had led me to believe that I wouldn’t be able to pump and bottle-nurse. (I have since seen women who pumped for several months without their baby actually nursing and a woman who got her infant to latch on after about three unsuccessful weeks of trying.) Continue reading From Fear to Breastfeeding

Rescue Your Baby from Obesity

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Rescue your baby from obesityAs attachment parents, we need to be sure that we love and accept our children no matter what – and this includes their weight. Some children are naturally, genetically, more overweight or underweight than other children, and this is OK. The reason for the national media attention on children and their weight management is because of the high rates of obesity not only among adults but among children, as well.

Obesity is defined as being 20% above the ideal weight for height. Excess body fat puts children at risk for a number of serious health concerns including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, and bone and joint disorders. Recent studies have found possible links with liver and kidney disease, and cancer. Obesity also puts kids at increased risk for low self esteem, which can later contribute to depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses. Many experts and resources agree that childhood obesity is of epidemic proportions. Continue reading Rescue Your Baby from Obesity

Breastfeeding while Pregnant

By Debbie Page, RN, IBCLC, CEIM, director of TheNewBornBaby.com

breastfeeding while pregnantMany women find themselves pregnant while they are still enjoying a nursing relationship with their child. It doesn’t typically occur during the first six months, as long as you and your child are together most of the time and the child is exclusively nursing, but it can happen any time. Your child may be seven months or two years old when you discover you are pregnant. Should pregnancy be the reason to wean? For most mothers, the answer is a resounding no!

Babies need to breastfeed for years, not months, so continuing to breastfeed while pregnant could be the very best thing for your nursling. You will want to discuss this with your partner and your midwife/doctor. In Western cultures, the social norm is to breastfeed for a few weeks to a few months and certainly not during pregnancy. You may very likely have family members and friends pressure you to wean. Only you can make that decision. Educate yourself so you can base your decision on facts, not emotions. Embrace your freedom as a woman and mother to make the decisions you feel are best for your children and your family.

You and your family will have a lot to ponder about as you arrive at your decision. You may decide to continue nursing and set periodic goals for re-evaluating.

Is It Safe to Breastfeed While Pregnant?

There are two situations to consider:

  1. How are your pregnancies? If you carried your pregnancies to term without a threat of premature labor, then you are fine to continue breastfeeding. If not, you need to make sure your midwife/doctor is fine with your plan. If it is OK for you to have sex during pregnancy, it is safe to keep breastfeeding. Some doctors are concerned that the nipple stimulation of breastfeeding will cause premature contraction, but the medical literature does not support that theory. Nipple stimulation causes a release of oxytocin, which triggers the milk to let down. The synthetic form of oxytocin, Pitocin, is used to induce or augment labor. The amount of oxytocin released during orgasm is more than with breastfeeding, so the chances are slim to none that breastfeeding would put you into preterm labor.
  2. Are you well nourished? While you are pregnant, your body will draw from your stored nutrients to support your unborn child. You will continue to make high quality milk during pregnancy, but you will need to increase your calorie intake and your vitamins and minerals. Eat well, drink enough fluids, and make sure you gain the expected amount during your pregnancy. Women who are malnourished should not breastfeed during pregnancy. Vegan, anemic, or dairy-free moms need to pay special attention to their nutrition even if they are not pregnant, but especially if pregnant and breastfeeding.

Will My Older Child Get the Proper Nutrition?

Because your milk production may dwindle about halfway through your pregnancy, you may need to supplement a child whose sole source of nutrition is breastfeeding.

Not everyone will experience reduced milk supply, however. When Hilary Flower wrote her book, Adventures in Tandem Nursing, 30% of 200 mothers she had interviewed did not report a decrease in their production while they tandem-nursed.

What Other Ways Will Pregnancy Alter My Milk?

The taste of your milk will change, and some nurslings do not care for the new taste of Mommy’s milk.

At some point, your milk will revert to colostrum. This is still fine for your child and there is no need to worry that she will use it all up. Your breasts will keep replenishing the colostrum. Once you deliver, your production of colostrum will increase to provide plenty for the new baby.

How Does It Feel to Breastfeed While Pregnant?

Some women find it irritating or become restless when they nurse while pregnant. Hormonal changes are probably the culprit.

The hormones of pregnancy may also cause nipple tenderness. The tenderness may increase with the decrease of milk production.

For some women, morning sickness or nausea increase with nursing; for others, it decreases. If you experience more nausea, try altering your nursing schedule.

What About Weaning During Pregnancy?

You may decide that you want to wean before you deliver. This is fine. Giving some thought to this before you choose to breastfeed during pregnancy can help you emotionally if this does happen.

Some children will wean when the milk production dwindles or because the taste of the milk changes. Again, preparing for this possibility before it happens can ease the loss of your nursing relationship with this child.

Breastfeeding for Two: Tandem Nursing

By Debbie Page, RN, IBCLC, CEIM, director of TheNewBornBaby.com

tandem nursingDid you ever think you would be considering nursing two children at the same time? Probably most of us haven’t thought about that, but many women have done it. Known as tandem nursing, it happens all the time with twins and triplets but can be done also be done with children of different ages – for example, nursing your newborn while continuing to nurse your toddler.

Depending on where you live, tandem nursing may be looked upon as strange and done only for the mother’s sake: “She is just too attached to her children.”

Here, we go again – everyone wants to tell mothers how to mother. That’s not all bad, typically, but many of the mothering or parenting styles in the last 60 years have been all about detachment – a desire to create a completely independent child from birth: “You don’t want your children to be clingy or immature. You want strong, intelligent, mature adults and that only comes if you start teaching your babies or children to separate from you from birth.” Whoa…wait a minute. According to whom? Isn’t it really the opposite? It is the children that are held, cooed to, whispered to, nurtured, and allowed to breastfeed until they are ready to wean that blossom into these incredible adults with their emotional needs having been met.

Many women become pregnant before their nursing child has weaned. They continue to nurse throughout the pregnancy, and when the baby is born, they tandem nurse. Breasts that make milk can make more milk; therefore, you can nurse several children and have plenty of milk for each. I recently read an article written by a mother tandem-nursing all four of her children.

Why Tandem Nurse?

Tandem nursing allows your older nursling to continue breastfeeding until he weans himself, which, for humans, takes place on average at two and one-half years old, although children have been known to breastfeed naturally to seven years old.

For the mother, the longer you breastfeed, the more protection you have against breast, cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer. Sitting or lying down to nurse during your pregnancy can also help you rest and relax for a few minutes throughout your day.

Letting a child continue nursing provides all of the huge benefits nursing affords, including:

  • Continuous supply of antibodies for protection against illnesses.
  • Healthy building of all the cells in the body and therefore all systems in the body. Breast milk is only 10-percent nutrition; the other 90 percent is designed to build every system in the body. In contrast, formula is only nutrition.
  • Ability to continue to meet the emotional needs of the older child.
  • Development of the lower jaw and palate, which means more room for teeth and may mean no orthodontia needs.
  • Fewer allergies and/or delayed reactions to allergies.
  • Nutritionally superior food.

Tandem nursing will ease the arrival of the new baby into your nursling’s life. It can help with any engorgement in those first days after your milk comes in. Nursing the older sibling at the same time as the baby will occupy her when you are feeding the baby.

What Can I Expect in the First Weeks after the New Baby Arrives?

For starters, anticipate that anytime you bring a newborn baby into your home, it is going to be intense, chaotic, and labor intensive. A new baby equals a huge adjustment for all. Fatigue, fatigue, and more fatigue is the story of all new parents, especially parents of the second, third, or so on child. With nursing two or more children, you may experience more fatigue.

There will be a learning curve of figuring out how to make tandem nursing work. Also, your older child may have more frequent stools due to the laxative effect of colostrum.

How Will Tandem Nursing Change My Current Nursing Relationship?

Siblings of the new baby, depending on their age, often regress into infantile behavior. This may still happen with your older nursling. Your older child may suddenly want to nurse all the time. You either go with the flow or set limits. The older nursling may also have temper tantrums or whininess around nursing. Having to share the “num num” may not be within the older child’s comprehension. Your older child may not want to wait for the baby to finish.

You may find yourself feeling irritated with nursing your older child. If you find yourself short of temper, you will want to revisit the idea of tandem nursing. It may be that weaning the older child is in the best interest of the family.

How Do I Breastfeed Two Children?

You will probably nurse the newborn first, although some mothers find that nursing both children at the same time works great. You may want to assign each child a breast. Try lying on your side to nurse your newborn. Your older nursling can lean over your side and nurse on the upper breast.

Something that is very important is support. Make friends with other mothers that either are or support tandem nursing. It will help if you encounter any criticism.

Relax, let the housework go, let your friends and relatives help you, and enjoy these brief periods of your children’s lives. Tandem nursing may just be your answer to letting your children wean naturally as nature intended. They grow up all too quickly. Let’s not pressure our children into premature weaning.

Good Advice for Gentle Weaning: ‘Don’t Offer, Don’t Refuse’

By Grace Zell, staff writer for The Attached Family

Gentle weaning storyMy experience with weaning my daughter was very successful and non-traumatic, which was a good thing since I found it hard to imagine how I would ever refuse her.

Luckily, while reading The Complete Book of Breastfeeding, a wonderful resource as my nursing experience changed from stage to stage, I came across the slogan, “Don’t offer; don’t refuse,” which made great sense when I was ready to start the weaning process.

I let my daughter determine the pace of things. Fortunately, I am a stay-at-home mom and didn’t have any pressing need to stop nursing, so I took my cue from my precocious baby who, at a year, had already been walking for three months. She was also eating solid foods and drinking from a sippy cup and bottle.

The weaning process seemed to be harder on me emotionally, as I didn’t want to commit to ending our breastfeeding relationship. I worried about depression once my daughter was weaned, especially because I felt that the nursing hormones probably protected me against the depression that I had developed after my first child was born. Despite my sadness, I knew that I should try while it was naturally going in that direction.

One day, shortly after my daughter was about 13 or 14 months old, I took a deep breath and decided to follow the “don’t offer; don’t refuse” advice, and I went about our day without initiating a feeding. At a certain point during that day and the next few days, my daughter would come to me when I was sitting and tug at my shirt and push it up, but when I positioned her to nurse, she nipped at me. So, I gently pulled her away, closed my shirt, and put her down. To my relief, she would scamper off, laughing. It was a game to her, and she didn’t seem to need to nurse for comfort or security since I was providing those things in other ways. She still had her special blankies, and we spent time snuggling and playing and rocking in our rocking chair. I also fed her a bottle once or twice a day.

In a very short time, nursing was just a memory. It still makes me a little sad, but as I watch both of my children go through new and exciting phases, that cheers me up!

Is Organic Really Healthier?

By Rita Brhel, managing editor and attachment parenting resource leader (API)

Is organic scientifically healthier?Georgia Jones isn’t accustomed to addressing a crowd as knowledgeable about food as are many attached parents. An University of Nebraska-Lincoln nutrition professor, Jones spends much of her classroom time educating people about the very basics of what they put in their bodies.

“My students don’t come with an understanding of food,” she said. “Food for my students comes out of a box, a pan. If I told my students to go make a chocolate cake, they wouldn’t have a clue.”

But many families involved in Attachment Parenting are smart about their food. They understand the importance of knowing where their food comes from and how it was produced. These consumers choose to eat food without chemicals, because they realize that organic is superior to conventionally raised food. Or, is it?

Background on the Organic Food Industry

Organic food, a $14 billion industry, is the fastest-growing segment of the food industry, Jones said. National surveys show that two-thirds of Americans have purchased organic food at some point during the last 12 months.

“Organic food started as mostly a niche market, years ago,” Jones said. During especially the last decade, organic foods, farmers markets, and local food networks have spread rapidly into the mainstream consumer market. “Organic food is no longer a niche market,” she said.

Consumer demand for organic food is on the rise for a number of reasons, including food safety issues, such as an avoidance of pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs); a concern for the environment; and because organic food is often fresher and tastier than conventionally grown food, Jones said. But the number-one reason is an increased awareness of the link between food and health.

“There was a time in this country when we forgot that food actually has a purpose in our health, that it is for nourishment,” Jones said. “Now, we’ve moved into an area that I call ‘beyond nutritional eating,’ where we are using food to try to prevent and heal disease.”

That organic food is free of pesticides and GMOs and comes from environmentally friendly farms and gardens are safe assumptions – each documented through federally regulated certification programs. Shocking as it may be, however, there is no certainty that organic food, while its safety is certainly more accountable, is actually more nutritious than conventionally grown food, Jones said.

A New Era in Food Science

Consumers often confuse food safety and nutrition. Food-borne illnesses, pesticides, and GMO allergens are food safety concerns. Nutrition refers specifically to the content of macro- and micronutrients within food. Traditional nutrition centers on macronutrients, which include protein, carbohydrates, and fats; vitamins; and minerals. Micronutrients include substances such as phytochemicals and phytonutrients that were long thought to have no effect on human health. Research now shows that these micronutrients, also known as secondary metabolites, are extremely beneficial in boosting the immune system, protecting the body from cancer-causing free radicals, killing disease-causing pathogens, and more. “This is a new area [for science],” Jones said.

One phytonutrient receiving a lot of attention from nutritionists are flavonoids, which are found in very high amounts in blueberries but also in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are known to protect against heart disease, cancer, and age-related diseases such as dementia. “You want to eat plenty of fruits and plenty of vegetables,” Jones said. “Something else is, you want to eat plenty of color. This is a key part of nutrition and is not getting enough attention.”

Activated by environmental stress, flavonoids are produced by the plant as a defense mechanism against UV-B radiation and disease stress. “These secondary metabolites aren’t there for us. We just reap the benefits,” Jones said. “They’re actually there to protect the plant.”

Organic Plants Contain More Secondary Metabolites

To determine whether organically raised plants are more nutritious than conventionally raised plants, science is going back to how plants are raised and focusing on the formation of secondary metabolites — the phytonutrients — which are chemicals produced by a plant grown in less-than-ideal conditions. Organically raised plants are subject to more pest and weather stress than conventionally raised plants, which are protected by chemical pesticides, GMO varieties, and commercial fertilizer application. As a result of this added stress, an organically raised plant produces secondary metabolites to provide added protection, as well as to quicken maturation and seed development.

But Theories Are Not Proof

Although organic foods do tend to contain more secondary metabolites, “there are a number of reasons why scientists aren’t coming out and saying this is the better way,” Jones said. There are still too many unknowns in the formation of secondary metabolites, including specific environmental factors, soil properties, and crop management practices that affect the formation of these micronutrients. Plus, there are two crucial questions that must be answered first:

  1. Do organic plant products contain more or less of certain nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and secondary metabolites than conventional plant products?
  2. To what extent are nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and secondary metabolites beneficial or harmful to human health?

Much of the problem with being unable to give a definite answer to the question of whether organic food is more nutrition relates to the type of research that has been conducted on the relationship between secondary metabolites and organically raised food. Most of the studies seek out theories, such as epidemiological studies that link food to health through statistics, retail food analysis, and other studies that are purely observational. Observational studies look for patterns, but they can’t prove a theory. For example, an observational study may find that people who eat oranges tend not to develop cancer but there aren’t any scientific data to prove that oranges prevent cancer. “Just because something organic is statistically different doesn’t mean it’s biologically different,” Jones said.

Below are a number of observational studies related to organic nutrition, each with promising theories:

  • Organic ketchup contains more lycopene than conventional and store brands, and fast food ketchup (Ishida and Chapman, 2009).
  • Flavanoids are significantly higher in tomatoes raised with organic practices such as crop rotation for pest control and organic matter for fertilizer, than in tomatoes raised with herbicides and pesticides and commercial fertilizer (Mitchell et al, 2007).
  • Animals fed with organic feeds have fewer stillbirths than those fed with conventional feeds (Williams, 2002; Bourn and Prescott, 2003).
  • Antioxidant compounds are higher in peaches and pears raised organically than conventionally, and vitamin E is higher in organic pears than conventional pears (Carbonaro, et al, 2002).
  • Organic food products have higher levels of vitamin C and lower levels of nitrates than conventional food products (Bourn and Prescott, 2002).

A follow-up human or animal study must be used to prove any theories found. Human studies are the most influential but are particularly difficult to do. “You can control what a rat does, but you can’t control what a human does,” Jones said. “You have to consider not only diet but lifestyle. You can’t eat organic and drink or smoke all day. … You also have to consider, with human studies, that diseases progress over a lifespan, not just one or two years.”

The Most Promising Study

By and large, the observational study most supportive of the theory that organic food is nutritionally superior to conventional foods was conducted in 2001 among Okinawans, the people living on the southern-most Japanese island of Okinawa.

“They have the longest lifespan of any group alive,” Jones said. Okinawans live to be an average of 81.2 years old, followed by the Japanese at 79.9 years, Hong Kong at 79.1 years, and Sweden at 79.0 years. The United States has the 18th longest lifespan of the world’s societies, at 76.8 years.

Okinawans also experience a delayed aging process and minimized debilitating diseases in the elder years. “These people are healthier longer than (Americans) are,” Jones said, despite U.S. medical advancements superior to that of the Okinawans. The average cholesterol level in the Okinawa centenarian is 102.4 mg/dL, and high blood pressure exists in only 1.5% of the centenarian population, she said.

There are several aspects of the Okinawan diet that differ dramatically from the Western diet. Okinawans have never developed a taste for salt, so “they don’t eat a lot of processed foods,” Jones said. Their flavonoid consumption is six times higher than the Japanese or Canadians, who are next on the list. And the Okinawan diet contains the highest lycopene content of all of the world’s diets. The Okinawan diet has since been called the Longevity Diet, because it improves physical strength, prevents illness, and maintains overall health.

“They look at medicine as food,” Jones said. “They’re really looking at food in a different manner than we do.”

Using the Okinawan study, consumers of organic foods can safely assume that, yes, organic is nutritionally superior to conventional foods, Jones said. But, she warned, this is only a guess until the research proves it so — although it’s a guess that many consumers are confident to say is truth.

Current Trends in the Organic Sector

Consumer interest in organic foods continued to grow last year. Highlights from 2008 consumer use surveys include:

  • Research from The Natural Marketing Institute reveals that consumers are increasingly incorporating organic products into their lifestyles. Total household penetration across six product categories has risen from 57% in 2006 to 59% in 2007. The research also showed that the number of core users has increased from 16% in 2006 to 18% in 2007.
  • Consumer interest in buying environmentally friendly products and organic food remains high among Northwest natural and organic product consumers despite tough economic times and rising food and energy prices. Research by Mambo Sprouts Marketing showed that consumers in Washington and Oregon see buying “green” as a priority: 92% of consumers reported buying the same (54%) or more (38%) environmentally friendly products compared to the prior six months. Rather than cutting out such products, consumers report they are using money-saving strategies, such as coupons, stocking up on sales, and cooking meals at home to stretch their grocery dollars.
  • 69% of U.S. adult consumers buy organic products at least occasionally, according to The Hartman Group report, The Many Faces of Organic 2008. Furthermore, about 28% of organic consumers (about 19% adults) are weekly organic users. Organic categories of high interest to consumers are dairy, fruit and vegetables, prepared foods, meats, breads, and juices.
  • A Harris Interactive online survey conducted for Whole Foods Market showed that, despite rising food prices, 79% of consumers do not want to compromise on food quality and 70% continue to buy the same amount of natural and organic foods. Findings also showed two out of three adults prefer to buy natural or organic products if prices are comparable to those of non-organic products. Overall, the survey found that 74% of adults purchase natural or organic foods, with 20% saying that more than one-fourth of all the groceries they buy are natural or organic. In addition, 66% of adults would like to find ways to buy natural or organic foods within their budget.

The Best Baby Food is Homemade

By Amanda Hughes, co-leader for API of St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Make your own baby foodWhen my sister was a baby, I remember my mom had a food mill at the table and she would feed the same food to my sister that we ate for supper. It seemed easy to me, at four years old.

Years later, during my baby shower, my friends and I played a game that changed the way I would feed my children. I took ten jars of baby food, and the women had to guess what each was. They could smell, look, taste, touch – anything they wanted, to try to guess it. I look back at this and remember how we laughed when we got them wrong. I particularly remember how bad the meats smelled and how that made me nervous: What is in this stuff? Do I want to feed this to my child? Can I blame them if they don’t want to eat this? Continue reading The Best Baby Food is Homemade

Trust Your Baby to Show You When to Breastfeed

By Jack Newman, M.D. & Teresa Pitman, reprinted with permission from The Latch and Other Keys to Breastfeeding Success

Trust your baby for breastfeeding successBabies are born with the skills and instincts to help them breastfeed, but we often ignore the messages and cues they are sending us. It is much easier for your baby to latch if your baby is calm yet ready to nurse. The entire process becomes far more difficult when the baby is upset, exhausted from crying, overly hungry, or not hungry at all, so it is valuable to tune into your baby’s cues and internal rhythms so that breastfeeding happens when the baby is ready.

Learn to recognize your baby’s early signs of hunger:

  • If you are holding the baby skin-to-skin, your baby may move towards the breast on her own. Even without the skin-to-skin component, if you are holding the baby upright against your chest, he will signal his interest in feeding by shifting to one side and moving down your body into position to breastfeed. Some babies will almost throw themselves to the side in an attempt to get into position.
  • If your baby is sleeping in a separate bassinet or incubator, he may show his desire to nurse by smacking his lips and sticking his tongue out repeatedly, putting his fists to his mouth, sucking on his fingers or the blanket, and other sometimes subtle behaviors. Watch your baby and get to know his early cues.
  • If you are not sure if your baby really wants to breastfeed, try it and see. If your baby really doesn’t want to eat, he won’t.

Waiting until the baby is crying is not helpful, as it makes learning to latch more difficult. On the other hand, by paying attention to your baby’s behaviors, you truly will become the expert in caring for your baby. Watching your baby’s cues will allow you to feed with love and respect, and increase your confidence as well.