This is a follow-up to your answer on breastfeeding difficulties. You suggest that a nursing mother pamper herself, and that she get as much sleep as possible. These are great suggestions in general, but why have you specifically made them for a mother who is nursing? I am asking because I know that the more I understand about the reasoning behind something, the more I remember the advice and the more compliant I am.
Dr. Greene’s Answer:
It’s great to hear back from readers. I am always glad to give further explanation!
There are several factors that contribute to the success of a nursing experience for mother and baby. One of the most important is that the baby feels satisfied after nursing. This cannot happen if the mother is not making enough milk to fill the baby up, or if the baby is not able to successfully get the milk that is there.
When a mother is stressed or sleep deprived, her body cannot make milk as well as it does when she is relaxed and rested. In addition, when a mother is tense or tired, the milk she has made will not flow as quickly and easily in response to her baby’s sucking. Also, even very young babies have the ability to pick up on their mothers’ cues. Babies tend to be much fussier when their mothers are out of sorts, making the whole experience much more difficult. Not only will the breast feeding session last much longer than necessary, often the baby will fall asleep from exhaustion, only to wake up hungry after a brief nap.
When her baby cries, a mother becomes measurably more tense. When a mother becomes more tense, her baby’s crying accelerates. The best way to break this vicious cycle is for the mother to boldly take care of herself. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Let others take care of the chores. This seemingly selfish move will actually enable her to love and enjoy her baby with fresh patience, enthusiasm, and skill.
Last reviewed: December 20, 2010