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Anyone else hate breastfeeding?
Update - no longer hating it!

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#26 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 18 May 2011 - 12:58 AM

QUOTE (howdo @ 17/05/2011, 11:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's ok to hate it. i always did. It's okay to stop and it's okay to keep going, only you know what's best for you. Good Luck.

Completely agree with this.

I never really enjoyed the breastfeeding.  I did hate it for the first few months and in particular with DD1 (had lots more problems with her than I did with DD2), I would be in tears frequently.  But I was fortunate, it did improve.  But I can honestly say that it is far from being in the top 5 things I love to do with a newborn.  I'm *totally* with you on all the reasons you listed - it's hideous, isn't it?

As a few PP have mentioned, there is more to being a mother than simply breastfeeding. You can (and will) continue to make the best decisions for you, your child and your family.  Including whether to continue BF exclusively or start with another feeding approach.  If you feel you would only feel relief and joy at the thought on not doing any more BF, I think you have answered your own question.

And you don't have to explain your reasons to anyone, not one person.  It is a decision for you and you alone (of course, you can choose to allow other people to influence your decision, but that's your choice).

Good luck!

#27 crunchymama

Posted 18 May 2011 - 01:36 AM

It *may* hurt when you first attach, but it shouldn't hurt the whole feed.
Does baby's chin hit the breast first? (this is what causes them to open their mouth wide and get a good attachment). Is their chin digging into the breast throughout the feed? Is the baby chest to chest? These are crucial to a good attachment.

Recurring blocked ducts and mastitis is a sign that something isn't right. How often are you swapping breasts? The breast needs to be well drained before swapping to the other one (for me with oversupply issues this meant I only fed from one breast within a 3-4hr period - others need to feed from both breasts each feed).

I'd give baby-led attachment a go too:

#28 FEdeRAL

Posted 18 May 2011 - 03:19 AM

World Health Organisation says,
"Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond."
WHO Breastfeeding

Hi OP it might looked like your bub is attaching correctly but only you yourself can tell if she is doing it properly. So if it's hurting then it's not right. I know this because it hurt like hell when my premature DS was learning to bf at 34 weeks. I too struggled a lot - we both did. Everytime I put him on the breast it was like a fight - he would fuss and pull off every 1 minute because he was getting too much air, I would push him back to the breasts, his little hands would get in the way and refuse to budge, and then one hour later you have a exhausted mum and a cranky, tired but still very hungry baby. I would berate myself, berate the whole breastfeeding community (hospital midwives, neonatal nurses, media etc) for enforcing the benefits of breastmilk, for instilling the general public awareness so much so that when I bottle fed my DS in the public I felt everyone around me was secretly criticising me for not giving my baby the most important thing.

He is now 2 month old corrected and only going onto the breast exclusively in the past 2 weeks or so. But here's what I did to reach here- I cut myself some slack! Some day I just fully bottle feed him with expressed milk. And if I didn't feel like expressing once in a while? I gave him formula. The downside to that is your supply might drop off - so be warned and try not to do it too often (mine did and I am now on comp feed twice a day but I am not losing sleep over it). On days that I feel motivated I put him on the breast, just once or twice (until one day I actually realised that it no longer hurt and he is actually emptying the breasts very effectively).

Like other posters are saying you should use nipple shield if you are having cracked nipples. The Medela ones are good and they come in different sizes to suit your nipple size.

Use an electric double pump to express and cut your expressing time down to just 10 minutes each time. You can rent one from selected chemists (or even buy one if you can afford it), ABA should be able to tell you where. Also speak to a lactation consultant about massaging technics when expressing to clear blocked ducts.

QUOTE (jesscar1 @ 17/05/2011, 10:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I know breast is best, but surely at some point the negative effect on the mother (and therefore her relationship with baby) must outweigh the benefit of breast milk?

I agree (if the mother has exhausted all options). I was a formula baby so were my siblings and my DH and his brother. We turned out to be healthy and bright individuals (me especially  roll2.gif ).

Best of luck OP! And you are not alone. I mean, they sell Starter/newborn formula for a reason right?

#29 BadgerBasher

Posted 18 May 2011 - 05:01 AM

OP, my tinygirl is 18 days old, and I tell you, I'm done with this BF-ing game. She's on formula as of now, and while I feel a little guilty for not pushing through and continuing...

When my nipples bleed every feed, when I've almost bitten clear through my lip, and when I am almost scared of tinygirl, it's not cool.
Apparently her latch is "perfect." Except she's a chewer- she gets bored or something and starts to much.
She can chew on a bottle all she likes.

I was hoping to get to 6 weeks, but I haven't, and I won't beat myself up over it. Much.

If it would be best for you and your LO to swap to formula, do it.
It has the added bonus of you being able to say to someone else "Here, feed her, I'm going to *insert something you like to do*"

good luck!

#30 JupitersMoon

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:02 AM

I have only read the 1st page of repliess so sorry if I am repeating someone else.

Firstly I am not sure on the answer to your question, but I remember being told in the hospital that any amount of breastmilk is better than none - so getting to 5 weeks is itself a great thing original.gif I am a BF advocate but I also don't think there is anything wrong with formula - if thats what you need/want to do, that is YOUR decision. You could always do both.

I wub.gif breastfeeding DD but I didn't for the first couple of months, for a lot of the reasons you mentioned.  It does get easier!

-I had pain for at least 6 weeks for every feed, it was excrutiating! It started to improve after that.
-I've never had mastitis but blocked ducts are horribly painful, try a hot shower and letting the baby clear it up by suckling (last thing you want to do but it eventually works!)
-You definately can routine feed as others have said, I'd probably demand feed until 6 weeks to make sure your supply is ok, then set a routine that matches your babies needs e.g. 3 hourly or so.
-I hear you on the caffeine restrictions, I love my coffee. The way I saw it, it's better for me anyway IYKWIM. Why are you restricting garlic, onion etc??
-I have fed in public maybe 3 or 4 times in 11.5 months.  I hate it too! and I went out almost daily - just between feeds!
-Maybe you can find a sexy bra that you can wear just when you have sex so it doesnt need to be a maternity bra?
-Your supply should be pretty well established in a few weeks, if you are keen on your DH or someone else taking over a feed, but you really don't want to express (I suck at it too - takes me forever to get a small amount) you can always get your DD taking one bottle of formula a day so you can have some 'you' time and know that if you are ever out for longer than you expected, you know she will at least drink the formula.

Good luck with your decision original.gif

#31 Neen

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:24 AM

How are you today OP?  

Hope you are feeling ok.

#32 dirtgirl

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:28 AM

Hi OP,

I know exactly how you are feeling. I never enjoyed either of my breast-feeding experiences. With my first baby, she was a terrible feeder and I decided after two weeks of mastitis, bleeding nipples and floods of tears that I would give her EBM instead...this meant that my husband was able to feed her on occasion whilst she continued to get the benefits of breast milk. Regrettably, I was not terribly good at expressing, and by 8 weeks she was getting more formula than breast milk, at which point I gave up expressing altogether.

My second child was a strong feeder from the beginning, which made a world of difference with respect to mastitis and pain. However, despite this, I found breastfeeding quite a difficult thing to do. Although I am small breasted, I found it awkward to breastfeed in public, even in front of friends and family. I also found demand feeding quite tiring. The other thing I did not expect was the weight gain...people always say how the weight just melts off when they are breast-feeding, but I was ALWAYS hungry. I made it to 4 months with number 2, but by that stage i was growing resentful of the demands of breastfeeding, and think that I may have spiralled into PND had I not made the choice to wean. It was an extremely difficult decision compared to number 1, as I had no real reason to stop, except for my own feelings about it, but in hindsight, I think it was the best decision for me and my baby.

Both my children are incredibly happy and healthy children, and while I acknowledge that bfing is the very best thing for your baby, you should not be made to feel like a criminal if you decide that its not working for you. I think your baby will benefit more from a mother who isn't crying all the time, and who enjoys being with her baby, as opposed to being breastfeed by an anxious mess.

Only you know what to do, and I offer you my wholehearted support in whatever choice you make as it will be the best choice for you and your baby.

#33 KJ2006

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:34 AM

Oh OP, you poor thing. I just want to give you a big hug.

The best breastfeeding advice I was ever given was "Give it 8 weeks and if it's still hard, give it 12. If it's not working at 12, you know you did everything you could."

What they don't tell you is that for most women it is not easy. We all have our babies and then freak out when breastfeeding is hard, hurts and causes us so much stress. Then there are the myths that our parents and grandparents' generation bombard us with, frightening us into thinking we have no milk left, aren't cut out for it, aren't compatible with bubs, can't eat this, can't drink that, etc etc... all of which is so unfair for them to say with such authority because it is not accurate and confuses us new mummies even more! Sometimes breastfeeding doesn't work but it's usually nothing to do with our bodies or the baby. It's due to lack of support, or help for the poor mum and no or lack of accurate professional advice. It's amazing how many CHNs there are out there who give out inaccurate advice! From every angle you'll get a different opinion and different advice. My two cents would be to hire a private lactation consultant... not just use the one from the clinic or hospital.

Honey, i really feel for you, I do. I know what it's like to have problems breastfeeding and not like doing it. I went through mastitis a few times with the full blown fever and chills and aches, cracked, bruised and bleeding nipples, I wanted to give up sooo many times. It was my DH who gently encouraged me to persist. Both my daughters took a while to even be able to latch on to the boob (despite, like you, being told my professionals that it "looked fine"... It did NOT feel fine! It bloody hurt!). It took DD1 5 weeks to latch and DD2 almost 7 weeks. In that time I expressed and bottle fed them the EBM.
It took about 12 weeks until either of them was breastfeeding comfortably. After that it was a dream run and I BF DD1 until she was 10month and I went back to work. I'm stil BF DD2 (9.5months). I routine fed from 3 weeks on though and still do. This made things a lot easier. I'm also a planning person. I also didn't restrict anything I ate or drank except alcohol and both DD1 and DD2 never were unsettled from any foods. If you ate it during your pregnancy, they're already used to it. FWIW I also still had/have a glass of wine every evening straight after a feed. The rule I followed was if I could legally drive, I could feed... it was a good guideline and easy to work out.

I guess in the end, it boils down to how much you want to BF and if you have the support around you from family or friends to do things for you like cooking and washing and cleaning while you concentrate on feeding for a couple more weeks.
Also, I'm not sure where you live but each time with my daughters I saw a private lactation consultant and she helped me to find ways to help them attach and reassured me that sometimes it does just take 2 or three whole months for it to work. It was about $180 for 3 sessions and was well worth it.

(((hugs))) I know it's hard, you poor thing. PM me if you have any questions. I really have been there and my heart goes out to you.

Edited by kelsey82, 18 May 2011 - 10:41 AM.

#34 A'idah

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:41 AM

Haven't read all replies, so forgive if already mentined, but truly breastfeeding shouldn't hurt if everything is okay. If you are sure the latch is okay, and it still hurts you may have thrush (which is incredibly painful, especially at the beginning of a feed). Another possibility is Raynauds (sp?). Anyway, if youhave pain when your baby is latching on and at the beginning of a feed, and your nipples are generally sore, and maybe a bit shiny or red,  you may have thrush. If you do, once you start treatment you should get relief pretty quickly. I know with my first baby everyone told me eveything was fine but I still had incredible pain for ages. Turned out it was thrush.

Maybe you have a tiny crack somwhere on your nipples? Have a good look. This can be incredibly painful as well. Quite often it is due to thrush. If you treat the thrush the cracks should heal. Otherwise a tiny bit of winter sun on nipples can be very healing, as can going without a bra as much a possible, so nipples aren't all cooped up with soggy breastpads in a constricting bra.

Here are some links you may find useful from the Royal Womens in Victoria
Note well what it says about Daktarin Oral Gel. Nothing else is as effective for treating thrush on nipples and in babies mouths, but it is off licence use for those under 6 months. A chemist may not sell it to you without a prescription. You do not follow the directinos on the pack, but follow the directions from the Royal Womens hospital (on this website) or of your child health nurse


Also Kelly Mom is an excellent starting point in trying to find out why breatfeeding may be hurting you.


#35 Golfing widow

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:45 AM

If you hate it don't do it, and don't feel guilty about it. You can only do what you can do OP. My thoughts all the way through my pregnancy and now with 4moDD is I'll do what ever I can do. When asked prior to the birth if I would BF I always responded that if it works I'll do it, if not I'll use formula. You have to have that attitude otherwise you will drive yourself insane. I have also been using nipple shields since her birth because there wasn't as much for her to latch on to despite my 18F/Gs - so I know your pain there! It took me a while to feel comfortable doing it in public (3 months!) but I always hit the malls with the best parents rooms so that I could do it in private.

Yep - get the sex thing too, don't want DH going anywhere near them. The whole thing freaked me out before I actually started doing it. My sister didn't do it for very long with either of her kids due to mastitis and reflux in first DS and then when second DS came along he went almost straight onto formula and bottle as number 1 DS was only 14 months old and running around and she couldn't sit down for that long to BF. Both boys are fine and not in way disadvantaged because my sister couldn't BF.

#36 A'idah

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:51 AM

Just re read your first post OP. Why are you restricting your food? Maybe caffeine I can understand, but I still drink a couple of cups of tea a day, although I do drink decaf coffee. But why onions and garlic? If you like them just eat them! My goodness, I just eat anything I like! That is part of the beauty of breastfeeding, you can eat so much stuff!!!  My background is Afghan and Indian, and I can assure you that mothers do NOT ever restrict garlic, onions, spices or anything and babies are breastfed while mothers eat all kinds of things.  Don't torture yourself with food restrictions when you don't need to!

#37 squirt081

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:58 AM

OP - i too hate BFing, with DD I feed her for 2 weeks before going to formula as I had PND and it wasn't worth it. She was much happier and so was I when we changed.

DS was a wonderful feeder (the nurse said he was born to breastfeed) and I had a great supply but still I hated it. I had painfull let down and just didn't like the feeling of it. I feed him for 4 weeks. I dont feel guilty for stopping as I was alot happier and therefore so was he and the rest of the family.

Sometimes Breast isn't best if it is causing major stress for mum which in turn causes stress for bubs (This was the case for my kids and myself). If you want to stop then stop.

Good luck which ever you choose to do.

#38 at1

Posted 18 May 2011 - 09:59 AM

With DS1 I hated breastfeeding for about 3 months, well, not 'hate', it is a strong word, but really really disliked it and did not feel it was  all that it was cracked up to be. I felt like this and I had absolutely no problems breastfeeding!!! I probably only had about 1-2 weeks of a little soreness and that was it.

After about 3 months I started to enjoy it more and he weaned at 11.5 months. DS2 was easy to feed after his silent reflux was sorted and he weaned himself at 14 months. 12 months is the limit for me though, by 12 months I am happy to stop breastfeeding and bubs have just moved straight to cups and had cows milk.

I think if you are still in a lot of apin at 5 weeks then you need to see someone about it, I do not think it should still be occuring by then. Once your pain is settled, I am sure you will feel much better about it. If not, your sanity and bonding with bubs is better spent not stressed and move on if you feel you need to.

#39 crankybee

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:04 AM

Haven't had my baby yet but had to tell you about some maternity bras I got from "Storm in a D Cup" in Sydney (you can order on-line). The brand is Royce and I am an 18G and they look great under clothes.



Hope this helps in some small way!

#40 ez21

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:10 AM

I admit to hating breastfeeding until my bub was about 10 weeks old.  I would have a sense of dread prior to a feed and I just broke down and cried many times a day.

The main reason behind these feelings of dread was that it hurt so much.  I remember that my first pain-free breastfeed was when bub was 10 weeks old. My case was a bit out of the ordinary as my baby was born with tongue tie (tongue anchored to the bottom of his mouth, right to the tip of his tongue) and he had no idea how to suck without squashing my nipple to within an inch of its life!  As a Raynauds sufferer, I also suffered from severe nipple vasospasm in the middle of winter...All I can say is OUCH!

TRUST ME, IT DOES GET BETTER AND IT IS SO WORTH IT!!  My bub is now 9 months old and still breastfeeding 3 times per day.  I love feeding him now and it's a great way to bond with your child.  It really is the best gift you can give your child.

There is a massive problem with the current breastfeeding message that is being put out there by many health professionals.  The current message includes the common line that as long as you are attaching your baby correctly, it doesn't hurt.  This is the biggest load of BS I have ever heard!  My belief is that women should be told the truth from the get go.  In most cases, despite perfect latching, breastfeeding hurts in the initial few weeks and women need to be prepared for this.  I believe that if they don't know the good and the bad, they are just going to blame themselves and give up when something goes wrong.  Remember, your baby is still learning to breastfeed too, not just you.

Please stick with it.  You have done such a great job so far.  Although you feel like you are in the depths of such a bad place right now, you and your baby will soon become breastfeeding pros.  In the meantime, try to breath through the pain.  I would often stamp my foot on the ground when baby was latching to deal with the pain (not ideal in public though).

I know what you're going through, it quite normal to have these feelings but, they do pass.  We women are made of tough stuff, at times like this don't lose faith in yourself and your ability to get through it.

Best wishes for your breastfeeding journey.

#41 Sockergris

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:11 AM


I couldn't feed my first baby and ended up expressing for a year (not that I am recommending this for you) and with DD2 I had pain with feeding until about 8 weeks. Then it was much easier. I never thought I could enjoy it but continued because I truly believe breast is best.  Maybe give it a few more weeks and if it doesn't settle down you can know that you tried.  Best not to have any regrets. original.gif  
Yes, breast is best, but having a happy Mum is important too.  Don't torture yourself.

(I hear you on the feeding in public thing.  I'm still not a fan, but you know what, you can work around it once the baby stops feeding every 2 hours.  I have 12H boobies so it is very hard to discreetly feed.  If I feel uncomfortable I just sit in a quiet corner, or feed in my car or cover my shoulder/arm/boob (not DD's face) with a muslin wrap.)

I wish you all the best, whatever you decide.

#42 nzdebz

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:17 AM

I dont care what anyone says....Breastfeeding is not the most natural thing in the world.  Some woman take to it without any problems, others dont.

I only managed to BF my son for 3 weeks, I absolutely hated it, I was in agony from my boobs to my neck (my back felt like it was on fire).  I hated it so much that I honestly thought I was going to crush my babies head.  Once I made the decision to bottle feed I relaxed, enjoyed the time with him and he slept 8 hours at night from 6 weeks then 12hrs from 8 weeks - I am convinced that this is because I was more relaxed, he was relaxed and I knew he was full (where I had no idea when I was feeding him).  FYI that child is now 10 and has no allergies, asthma or never been a sick child.

There are many reasons why some woman may not BF. If you are anxious, uptight and in pain then do what feels right for you.

With this pregnancy I plan to give the breast a go but if it doesnt work then Im not going to loose any sleep over it.

#43 lbj

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:21 AM

I to am a 16F when Breastfeeding (16 E normally). I wore this bra
I found that it gave good shape and hid the breastpads really well. Not suer supportive though, so I would wear a singlet top over the top to give some upper boob support. The singlet top was also great for public feeds, as I would pull my TShirt upand the singlet top down. Stomach was covered by the singlet top and upper boob covered by the tshirt.

If you can afford it, see one more lactation consultant. THe pain does settle down if you can get it right. I had a lactation consultant who pointed out that it was not 'nipple feeding' but breast feeding. My DDs latch looked ok, but it wasn't really ok, since she had just nipple in her mouth. Also, she said that it could be painful for about 30 seconds on each side and then settle down, but if the pain went on longer than that there was something wrong

Anyway, see if you can see someone else, and give yourself a date for it to improve by (say 12 weeks). If it is better at 12 weeks, go for 4 months then 6 months then 8 months then 12. That way, when you stop, you'll know you did whatever you could.

I demand fed my daughter, but found that by about 5 months she had put herself into a routine. I also found that starting solids made absolutely no difference to the amount she fed! Good luck

#44 ellebelle

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:22 AM

I didn;t enjoy either. Simply hire an electric pump from a chemist. There is also medication to increase supply if that becomes an issue. Breast MILK is best - to my mind it doesn't matter how it is delivered original.gif . Good luck

#45 Charli73

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:26 AM

I hated breast feeding too....

I had painful flat nipples, mastitis, cracks for 9 weeks. He was already on formula top ups as he haw given it in hospital and he much preferred the bottle but my MCHN insisted I keep up the breast but I just wanted to stop BFing as it was too painful...

It ended up the stinging pain was due to nipple thrush and although it isnt painful to BF now I still like the convenience and less stress of a bottle here and there to help me out. My baby is absolutely thriving and now everyone is happy.

Do whats best for you, if you need to stop and go to formula for your sanity and your happiness then baby will be fine..

#46 red in oz

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:37 AM

Firstly, you can feel frustrated, and disappointed that things haven't worked out quite as you planned, but please don't feel guilty. You give it your best shot, that's all you need to do.

Secondly, it doesn't have to be all or nothing, if you're miserable then have someone feed your little one a bottle of formula once a day, you can have a nap and they will get great bonding time. Any breast milk is good, but all baby really needs is food and affection, if that comes from dad for a change instead of mum that's fine, in fact it's more than fine!

Thirdly, you need to identify the source of your pain. Is it chapped nipples, is it poor attachment, is it blocked ducts, you can work on each one individually. Nipple shields will help chapped nipples, massaging under a warm shower will help blocked ducts, attachment will come with practice providing there is no physiological reason bub can't attach right.

When you are feeding, don't be afraid to detach bub if you think it's not right, this was the mistake I made with DD1, once she was on I didn't want to stop the feed in case she wouldn't go back on again, therefore I spent 3 weeks in pain every feed. I was lucky it only lasted that long. To heal the chapped/cracked nipples I used to feed off one side only for 3 feeds, then I would put an antiseptic cream on the other side after each feed, this meant that it had more chance to heal before I put bub back on and then treated the other side.

Good luck with your decision.

Also on a side note I had NO pain at all with DD2, so this experience does not necessarily mean you will struggle with breastfeeding in the future.

#47 Danzie

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:39 AM

Hi OP,
Good on ya for being honest.
I was in struggle street with both of my babies for the first month or two.

I found it particularly hard second time around because I assumed it would be easy as I had already done it.  This added to my guilt and I felt I was letting DD down as I had fed DS for several months.  Darn you mother guilt!!

Anyway, try out PPs good suggestions but if all else fails, despite opinions to the contrary, it is still ok to put yourself first on this occasion if you end up being a better mum for it.  There's plenty of time, decades of it, where you will no doubt be putting your child first!

Just be careful with this self pressure business, I ended up with PND for quite a few months because of this pressure along with some other health issues, which is one of the hardest times I have been through and if I had my time again, would not have thought twice about weening onto formula when I was at my wits end.

You have done an excellent job feeding your baby for 5 weeks.  Just think, when you're watching your kid dart around the playground at 10 or 11 years of age, I doubt you'll be assessing the impact of not BFing for longer.

Take care OP.

#48 FluffyChickenhead

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:45 AM

I just wanted to say that bf still pinched at 5 weeks, but it does get better. It didnt actually start to get better until around 8 weeks.

About your libido, mine disappeared for a while post baby the same as you because I felt latched on or wanted all day, I couldnt think of anything worse then having sex because I was so over being attached or holding a baby all day, I wanted space.

also if you want to give up, thats fine, its your choice ok.

Edited by FluffyChickenhead, 18 May 2011 - 10:47 AM.

#49 KJ2006

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:46 AM

QUOTE (Danzie @ 18/05/2011, 10:39 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You have done an excellent job feeding your baby for 5 weeks.  Just think, when you're watching your kid dart around the playground at 10 or 11 years of age, I doubt you'll be assessing the impact of not BFing for longer.

Although my previous post was quite "lactivist" (;-p) , I wholeheartedly agree with this.

#50 LisaMaree82

Posted 18 May 2011 - 10:53 AM

I thought this might be helpful to you.  Others have given great advice.

In answer to your question
What is the MINIMUM time to breastfeed for?

Breastfeeding your baby for even a day is the best baby gift you can give. Breastfeeding is almost always the best choice for your baby. If it doesn't seem like the best choice for you right now, these guidelines may help.

If you breastfeed your baby for just a few days, he will have received your colostrum, or early milk. By providing antibodies and the food his brand-new body expects, breastfeeding gives your baby his first - and easiest - "immunization" and helps get his digestive system going smoothly. Breastfeeding is how your baby expects to start, and helps your own body recover from the birth. Given how little it takes to offer it, and how very much your baby stands to gain, it makes good sense to breastfeed for at least a day or two, even if you plan to bottle-feed after that.

If you nurse your baby for four to six weeks, you will have eased him through the most critical part of his infancy. Newborns who are not breastfed are much more likely to get sick or be hospitalized, and have many more digestive problems than breastfed babies. After four to six weeks, you'll probably have worked through any early breastfeeding concerns, too. Make a serious goal of nursing for a month, call La Leche League or make an appointment with a board certified lactation consultant if you have any questions, and you'll be in a better position to decide whether continued breastfeeding is for you.

If you breastfeed your baby for three or four months, her digestive system will have matured a great deal, and she will be much better able to tolerate the foreign substances in commercial formulas. Giving nothing but breastmilk for the first four months provides strong protection against ear infections for a whole year. If there is a family history of allergies, though, you will greatly reduce her risk by waiting a few more months before adding anything at all to her diet of breastmilk.

If you breastfeed your baby for six months without adding any other food or drink, she will be much less likely to suffer an allergic reaction to formula or other foods. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend waiting until about six months to start solids. Nursing for at least six months helps ensure better health throughout your baby's first year of life, reduces the risk of ear infections and childhood cancers, and lowers your own risk of breast cancer. And exclusive, frequent breastfeeding during the first six months, if your periods have not returned, provides 98% effective contraception.

If you breastfeed your baby for nine months, you will have seen him through the fastest and most important brain and body development of his life on the food that was designed for him - your milk. Nursing for at least this long will help ensure better performance all through his school years. Weaning may be fairly easy at this age... but then, so is nursing! If you want to avoid weaning this early, be sure that, from the start, you nurse to provide comfort, not just to provide food.

If you begin weaning your baby at a year, you can avoid the expense and bother of formula. Her one-year-old body can probably handle most of the table foods your family enjoys. Many of the health benefits this year of nursing has given your child will last her whole life. She will have a stronger immune system, and will be much less likely to need orthodontia or speech therapy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for at least a year, because it helps ensure normal nutrition and health for your baby.

If you begin weaning your baby at 18 months
, you will have continued to provide nutrition, comfort, and protection from illness at a time when illness is common in formula-fed babies. Your baby is probably well started on table foods, too. He has had time to form a solid bond with you - a healthy starting point for his growing independence. And he is old enough that you and he can work together on the weaning process, at a pace that he can handle. A former U.S. Surgeon General said, "it is the lucky baby... who nurses to age two."

If your child weans when she is ready, you can feel confident that you have met her physical and emotional needs in a very normal, healthy way. In cultures where there is no pressure to wean, children tend to breastfeed for at least two years. The World Health Organization and UNICEF strongly encourage breastfeeding through toddlerhood: "Breastmilk is an important source of energy and protein, and helps to protect against disease during the child's second year of life." Our biology seems geared to a weaning age of between 2 1/2 and 7 years, and it makes sense to build our children's bones from the milk that was designed for them.

Your milk provides antibodies and other protective substances as long as you continue breastfeeding,

Whether you breastfeed for a day or for several years, the decision to breastfeed is one you need never regret. And whenever weaning takes place, remember that it is a big step for both of you. If you feel you must wean before your child is ready, be sure to do it gradually, and with love.

Edited by LisaMaree82, 18 May 2011 - 11:16 AM.

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