The Breastfeeding Couple: The New Family

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The Breastfeeding Couple: Topics
Table of Contents
Pre module evaluation
Breastfeeding Initiation
Breast Care
New Family
Growth Spurts
Maternal Diet
Returning to Work
Post module evaluation

New mothers find that caring for a new infant can be tiring. All babies need to get up to feed in the night. Researchers in West Virginia evaluated the total sleep time, sleep efficiency and fragmentation, and subjectively reported night awakenings, sleep quality, and sleepiness/fatigue in 94 postpartum women. Sleep time and efficiency was measured using a wrist actigraph. They compared sleep between 2 and 16 weeks postpartum in women who were breastfeeding, feeding formula or both. They found no difference in any of the sleep parameters by type of infant feeding ( Memorize Montgomery-Downs, 2010 ). For all new mothers it is all right to limit visitors until the baby is two or three weeks of age.

If family members are coming to visit they should be encouraged to provide help that the mother needs. This may include caring for the other children, cooking and keeping house.

Fathers play an important role in supporting breastfeeding mothers and infants. Rempel interviewed fathers of breastfeeding babies in Canada. These fathers described their role as a team member who supported the mother in breastfeeding. This support included encouragement and helping to solve issues that arose with breastfeeding, helping with cooking and child care, and understanding the mother's time committment to breastfeeding. Many admitted that they missed the ability to feed the young baby but since they believed that breastfeeding was best for their baby, they realized that they would be able to be more involved with feeding as the infant grew and started eating foods ( Memorize Rempel, 2011 ).

All new breastfeeding mothers should have a breast pump available or know how to do hand expression. If they are planning to pump regularly, an electric breast pump may be preferable. Pumped milk can be saved in the refrigerator or in the freezer and fed to the baby later.

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email -- Copyright 1998 Mary O'Connor MD, MPH -- Unauthorized use prohibited