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Breastfeeding: Going Home from the Hospital

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    Breastfeeding Risk Factors in the Infant
  • Small (less than six pounds) or premature (less than thirty-eight weeks) infants
  • Babies having difficulty latching on to one or both breasts
  • Babies who don't suck well for any reason
  • Babies with any abnormality of the tongue, jaw, or palate
  • Twins or greater multiples
  • Babies with medical problems, such as jaundice, heart or breathing difficulties, infections
  • Babies with neurologic or muscle tone problems
Indications for Using a Rental Electric Pump
The preceding are just a few examples of mother-baby pairs who should receive extra help with breastfeeding after dis-charge. Some mothers will require only simple modifications in their breastfeeding routines. Others will benefit from using a hospital-grade rental electric pump to empty their breasts imme-diately after they nurse their babies. By regularly extracting any residual milk at the end of feedings, you can establish and maintain a generous supply even though your own infant might not nurse effectively. A baby who doesn't nurse very well is likely to obtain more milk during his feeding attempts if his mother manages to keep an abundant supply. By "drinking from a fire hydrant," an ineffective nurser still may be able to obtain sufficient milk. Without the pumping regimen just described, a mother's milk production may decline quickly when her infant nurses poorly. You will hear more about pumping after feedings to extract residual milk in other chapters of this book.

If you or your baby have any of the risk factors mentioned, your baby's doctor should monitor your infant closely after discharge until it is clear that breastfeeding is going well. Since few physicians have the time to evaluate and manage breastfeed-ing problems, you should ask to be referred to a lactation consultant who can give special assistance with breastfeeding technique, help you decide when and how to taper pumping, and communicate with your baby's physician about feeding pumped milk to your baby.

In-Home Weighing of Infants
In-home weighing of infants is another option to help new parents when close monitoring of breastfeeding is desired. New technology now makes it possible for concerned parents to follow their baby's weight at home, thus taking much of the guesswork out of breastfeeding. Parents can rent an accurate, portable, user-friendly, electronic scale to weigh their baby periodically between medical visits until they are confident that their infant is thriving with breastfeeding. Certainly a scale cannot substitute for your baby's health care provider. Rather, the information it provides is meant to make you and your health care professional a stronger team. Report the weights you obtain to your baby's doctor, who can interpret the results with you.

Special, highly accurate rental electronic scales also are available that allow you to measure your baby's milk intake during a breastfeeding by weighing him (identically clothed) before and after nursing. This procedure is known as infant-feeding test weights. The information obtained from in-home test weighing of babies can be very helpful in monitoring infants at risk for inadequate breastfeeding. If you have a breastfeeding problem and decide to perform infant feeding test weights at home, I strongly recommend that you also work with a lactation consultant who can help you modify your baby's feeding plan based on the information gathered from the test-weighing procedures. Of course, your breastfeeding specialist will need to communicate closely with your baby's doctor.

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From Dr. Mom's Guide to Breastfeeding by Marianne R. Neifert. Copyright © 1998 by Marianne R. Neifert. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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