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Addendum to The Boob Rules (for Babies Four Weeks and Older)

Addendum to The Boob Rules (to be implemented after baby is four weeks old):

There are the hard and fast breastfeeding rules:

#1 Feed the Baby 

#2 Protect Your Milk Supply

#3 Seek (the right) Help

But, these rules are tough. Feeding the baby on demand with every little mouthing cue may have left you feeling like a 24/7 all-you-can-eat buffet. Pumping for every bottle may have made you feel like a poor old Bessie hooked up to the milkin’ machine in the barn. So, after the four-week mark, when the fog of new motherhood starts to clear and your baby is past birth weight, you can start to amend those strict rules and give yourself some breathing room. 

#1 Feed the Baby

Yes, you still need to feed the baby about eight to 12 times a day, but that number can hang closer to eight these days. Do yourself a favor and stack those feedings in the daytime so you increase the odds that your baby will sleep more than four hours at night (once he is past birth weight, let him sleep!).  

I have a little confession to make. All those early feeding cues you were taught? You know, when baby opens and closes his mouth like a baby bird, sucks his hand and roots? Yeah…that doesn’t always mean he’s hungry. I’m sorry! I know you were told to feed your baby every single time he shows a hunger cue, but the truth is that we tell you that because we figure you have no idea what you are doing!! In the first few weeks, when in doubt, if you see a feeding cue, put the baby on the boob.

But now that you are past four weeks, you should know that babies mouth and root for a lot of reasons. You should also know that you don’t have to feed your baby every time he opens his mouth. (You’re welcome. You were starting to feel like that kid’s bitch, weren’t you?!).  So, if he mouths or roots or sucks his hand, he may be hungry, but he also may just want to go back to mom’s diner.

See, human babies are really the most pathetic mammals out there. They can’t walk like a horse or wiggle like a kitten. They can’t swim like a dolphin or cling to their mother’s fur like a monkey. All they can do is try to stay near their food source. Move them away and they show hunger cues or cry until you put them back. Every nursing mom has fallen for that trick–you know, the one where you have fed your baby for over an hour and all you want to do is pee and eat something so you hand the baby to dad. The baby, who was fast asleep when you handed her off, almost immediately starts mouthing at her hands when she reaches dad’s arms. He tries to shush her and rock her, but she continues to eat his shirt, his arm, and her blanket. Within seven minutes, she is crying and dad is handing her right on back to you.  “She’s hungry again,” he says. Well, at least you got to pee. 

She isn’t hungry again. It is just that daddy smells like Old Spice, not milk, and it is making her a little nervous. She isn’t sure where her next meal is coming from and it makes her panicky. 

Once she has her face back near the boob, she can rest in peace.  

So, yes, feed the baby. But you don’t have to feed the baby all the time! Here’s a good time to use some tricks to make her think she is on the boob: 

1. Pacifier (I know, I know, just read the blog okay?)

2. Swaddling (Hands in. Again, read the blog)

3. Babywearing: she may accept the next best thing to having the boob in her mouth–sleeping on the boob. 

#2. Protect your supply

Yes, for every time baby feeds there must be a pump to equal that skipped feeding. But did you know that it doesn’t have to be at the same time?!  I am about to blow your little tired mind… read on here.

#3  Seek (the right) Help

This one stays the same. Seek helpful help. Because this crazy breastfeeding thing is just getting started. Make sure you have a long-term relationship with your Lactation Consultant and your support group. Things will pop up all throughout breastfeeding and you need to know who to call and where to go when you need to be surrounded by those who know exactly what to say.