Your baby is growing up. If
you are still breastfeeding, you’ve both probably otten pretty
good at it by now. For most moms, nursing has become a way of life,
and a way of parenting by this age. We’d like to share some
information that might come in handy for you as you nurse a more
10 Reasons to Keep Nursing your Baby
There are many advantages to breastfeeding a growing child. Here
are some reasons for you and your baby to continue nursing:
American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding
for at least a year, and for as long as mother and baby want to
time you nurse, your breast creates instant immunities to help your
baby stay healthy. This is especially important as the two of you
get out in the world more, and your baby puts all sorts of things
in her mouth.
has some other great health benefits, including helping your baby
develop better eyesight, teeth alignment, speaking skills, and intelligence.
your baby does get sick, there is nothing as satisfying as being
able to comfort him with your own milk and reduce the illness's
severity with your immunities. And it's good to know that even if
he won't eat anything else, your milk will ensure that he gets the
nutrition he needs.
so easy for the two of you to go out, take trips, and live a spontaneous
lifestyle when your baby's milk is always available at just the
is a quick and cozy way to put your child to sleep.
sessions provide an ideal time for the two of you to reconnect and
to talk over events of the day, especially if work or other activities
separate you. Talk to your baby while you nurse. She will be amazingly
receptive and understands a lot more than you might think!
your child develops strong feelings about what is going on around
him, nursing is one way that you can help him have perspective.
Whether it's a scraped knee or a broken toy, the hormonal changes
caused by nursing will relax both of you. (A good reason to nurse
through the "terrible twos"!)
helps reduce the development of allergies later in life.
Breastmilk is still the perfect food. Your milk changes in composition
as your baby grows so it provides the ideal nutrition, and it's
filled with health-giving immunities, and your loving care.
Overcoming Breastfeeding Challenges
Challenges can arise during your breastfeeding years, and it is
important for you to recognize them and know how to move beyond
them. If you have the right information, most difficulties will
Avoiding plugged ducts
A sore or tender spot on your breast is usually a plugged milk duct.
If you have a plugged duct, a part of the breast may still feel
firm and full after nursing. If left untreated, a plugged duct can
lead to mastitis, a painful inflammation of the breast. A plugged
duct is usually the result of milk improperly or incompletely drained
from your breast during a feeding.
The best solution is prevention. Proper positioning of your nursing
baby is important in the prevention of plugged ducts. Watch your
baby nurse. He should take long, deep swallows. Quick, shallow swallowing
is an indication that he doesn't have enough breast tissue in his
mouth or that his position is inhibiting the strong sucking that
drains the breast. The breast should be emptied fully and evenly
of accumulated milk at each nursing.
Vary your nursing position throughout the day so you expose different
parts of the breast to your baby's most vigorous sucking and your
breast will drain thoroughly. Try the football hold or lying down
with your baby to feed him. When you nurse lying down, put your
baby on a pillow to raise her to the level of your upper breast.
Be sure your bra and clothing do not constrict your breasts. If
you suspect your bra doesn't fit properly, ask a Motherwear consultant
(give us a call at (800) 950-2500) or other experts for help in
getting the right size. Wear a proper nursing
bra rather than sliding up a regular bra to nurse.
Rest, eat well, and drink ample fluids. Try to get plenty of sleep
so you aren't run down. When you are breastfeeding, you need extra
rest and nutrition. Structure your life in a way that makes you
feel good and keeps you healthy. A plugged duct is often the first
signal that you are doing too much. Get more help, or let some housework
and activities slide. Relax and enjoy your baby! Prompt treatment
of plugged ducts will usually prevent mastitis and its symptoms:
fever, fatigue, and nausea. If you begin to feel flulike symptoms,
or if your breast becomes hot and tender, you might have a breast
infection. Breast infections are particularly common in the first
weeks after birth and during times when a mother doesn't get the
rest and nutrition she needs.
To release a plugged duct
* Nurse on the affected breast first and more frequently.
* Position yourself so you can nurse with your baby's chin pointing
toward the plugged duct. Her tongue action will stimulate the milk
* While you are nursing on the affected breast, apply massage and
heat, such as a warm, wet washcloth, to encourage proper drainage.
* Between nursings, use moist heat and massage to encourage the
duct to clear.
* Gently rub the plug toward the nipple while you are showering.
* Use plain warm water to cleanse any dried secretions that may
be blocking your nipple's pores. (excerpted from Counseling
the Nursing Mother: A Reference Handbook for Health Care Providers
and Lay Counselors)
How to cure Mastitis (breast infections)
One of the most uncomfortable conditions a nursing mother may experience
is mastitis, an inflammation of the breast usually caused by an
infection. Symptoms include a hot and tender breast, fever, nausea,
and exhaustion. Most often, mastitis is preceded by a plugged duct.
It can also result from an infection entering the breast through
a cracked nipple:
* It's more important than ever to continue nursing frequently.
Your baby won't get an infection from your breast.
* Apply warm, moist compresses to the sore part of your breast before
and during nursing.
* Rest. Go to bed and stay there for two or three days. Get help
with all tasks.
* Contact your doctor, who might prescribe an antibiotic. Request
a type that allows you to continue breastfeeding. Be sure to complete
the entire course of treatment, even if the infection seems to clear
* Consider going without a bra while you recover.
* Drink plenty of liquids.
* Enjoy a little extra time with your baby.
Solving a nursing strike
Your baby suddenly refuses to nurse, or she stops nursing after
a few swallows and begins to cry. She abruptly seems to have lost
interest in breastfeeding. A typical strike lasts a few days, but
it can continue for as long as two weeks. There are many possible
reasons for a nursing strike. Among the most common are teething,
a cold or ear infection, an unpleasant taste, a sore mouth, and
discomfort from an injury or immunization. Emotional causes are
also common: separation from you, a change in your baby's routine,
a change in your behavior, too many distractions during nursing,
and insufficient attention to your baby's needs. An emotional reason
for a strike is just as important to consider as a physical one.
If your child is old enough to talk, ask him how he feels about
nursing. Returning to nursing may take some gentle coaxing and extra
attention, especially if the strike was set off in part by something
you did, such as yelling when you were bitten. Almost all children
will resume nursing, given the chance. In the meantime, you can
try feeding your child your milk by cup or spoon or increasing the
solid food available to a toddler. Pump or express your milk to
keep up your supply. Make offers to nurse as relaxed and pleasant
as you can. Devote yourself to your child as much as possible. Try
cuddling, stroking, or singing at nursing time. Keep in mind that
a sleepy baby may be more willing to nurse.
Many mothers are upset to think that nursing is over. True weaning
occurs gradually over weeks or months as a toddler loses interest.
Some parents interpret a nursing strike as the ideal time for early
weaning, but this is usually not the best choice for either of you.
The nursing relationship is a bond of love and understanding as
well as a food source. It usually works best to end nursing gradually,
by mutual agreement.
Do you and your baby have thrush?
Thrush is a yeast infection that thrives on milk. In an infant,
it appears as white spots inside the mouth and as a diaper rash
resembling a mild burn or a patch of red dots. The rash may be accompanied
by peeling skin, and it doesn't respond to air exposure or other
A baby with thrush may also show signs of tiredness: inefficient
nursing with eyes closed, often followed by long bouts of sleep.
When the yeast moves to the intestinal tract, the baby may experience
gas and discomfort. Thrush is passed to a nursing mother from her
baby's mouth. Mother's symptoms include red, swollen, or cracked
nipples accompanied be itching, flaking, or burning. White spots
are occasionally apparent. Thrush is caused by Candida, a yeast
always present in the body. Prolonged sucking (sometimes caused
by sleeping with a bottle or a pacifier) can injure the lining of
the mouth and allow the yeast to grow out of control, causing an
Babies sometimes acquire the infection as they pass through the
birth canal. This is particularly true when maternal diabetes is
involved. A thrush infection may follow a cesarean birth because
the antibiotics given to the mother kill the natural yeast stabilizers
in her system. Antibiotics administered to an infant can also cause
the infection. Both mother and baby need treatment, but there is
no need to stop nursing, even temporarily. Expose your nipples to
air and sun, and exercise careful hygiene with everything that touches
your breasts and your baby's mouth, such as nursing shells and baby's
toys. Keep your bras
clean, and change your nursing
pads, if you use them, after each feeding. Your doctor can prescribe
a safe medication to treat thrush, such as nystatin. Because it
is swallowed, nystatin eliminates the intestinal yeast. Nancy Mohrbacher,
author of The Breastfeeding Answer
Book, recommends that mothers supplement
their diet with Lactobacillus acidophilus (found in yogurt that
contains live cultures), especially after taking antibiotics. This
beneficial bacterium is present in normal human digestive tracts,
where it usually keeps thrush-causing yeast in check.
Getting Breastfeeding Support
Your determination, along with informed guidance, can keep a problem
from forcing an end to breastfeeding. If you need information or
support, the Breastfeeding
Resources section of our website can be a good source.
Your Monthly Breastfeeding Planner
You’re currently reading breastfeeding information we’ve
geared specifically to new nursing moms whose baby is about 4 months
old. Our website offers insight and information on other stages
of pregnancy and birth, to help guide you through the details of
selecting your nursing wardrobe, planning for those first days
in the hospital and home, breastfeeding in public, returning to
work, and more. Browse your current stage, look back or ahead,
and refer to this section often as your nursing experience progresses:
Time to Shop for Maternity & Nursing Bras (6th month of
Essential Information for New
Nursing Moms (7th month of pregnancy)
Pack Your Bag For Baby’s Birth! (baby
due in less than 2 months)
Building The Perfect Nursing Wardrobe (baby
due in 1 month or less)
Essential Information To Get Breastfeeding
Started (baby due now)
Nursing On The Go (baby 1 month old)
Breastfeed Your Baby – Anytime, Anywhere (baby
2 months old)
Yes, You Can Breastfeed & Work (baby 3 months