"Babies have needs, not wants," says Grauer. "Yours will want to eat when hungry. Always offer the breast first. If it's not about food, he won't take it. Move on to something else," she explains. "Trying to schedule a newborn is like trying to herd cats: It doesn't work and frustrates you and the baby."
Whether your partner wants to feed the baby, or you need a mom's day out, it's nice when the baby can alternate between breast and bottle. But it's important to have breastfeeding go well before introducing any kind of artificial nipple. "If you can devote the first three to four weeks to getting a solid feel for breastfeeding, you will be able to offer pacifiers and bottles at that time, provided breastfeeding is going well," says Grauer. "If introduced too soon, they can throw the process off. Everyone needs a solid foundation!"
Returning to work can be stressful for all new moms, but sometimes, nursing moms face additional challenges -- such as finding a quiet, clean place to pump breastmilk, and coordinating breaks throughout the day. Don't give up; take action! "Talking to your boss helps you to know the lay of the land," Grauer explains. "She may have a solution for where to pump that you didn't know about. Also, she will probably be more understanding when you need to leave in the middle of a meeting. Everyone needs to be on the same page."
"My biggest mistake was constantly second-guessing myself on my decisions regarding breastfeeding," says Jennifer M., a mom in Chicago who sums up her experience this way: "Anxious, overwrought first-time parent + fussy baby who can't tell you what she wants = misery. Some time later, I looked up and realized what a healthy, chubby, happy kid I had, and I stopped being so hard on myself."
You may breastfeed for a few days, weeks, months or years; it's all up to you and your baby. Any amount of breastmilk has benefits for both of you, and when it's time to wean, you'll know. Jenna G., a mom in Boston, hoped to nurse her baby for six weeks but didn't wean until she was 3 years old. "I am glad that I tuned out people's advice about weaning and just let it happen naturally."
Enjoy the special breastfeeding relationship with your baby. Once you find your groove and figure out what works best for you and your baby, the only "mistake" you'll make is worrying about making mistakes!
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