In this post I wrote about establishing your milk supply. But what about maintenance? How do you keep the breastfeeding relationship going as long as you want?
There is one simple thing you can do. It doesn't cost any money. You can do it in your sleep.
Here it is:
Nurse your baby in your bed at night.
That is how millions of women around the world from the beginning of time have raised their babies. Out of the breastfeeding moms that I know, the ones who kept baby in bed with them (and nursed throughout the night) were able to nurse as long as they wanted- a year at the shortest, 5 years at the longest. Mom was able to decide how long to nurse, instead of running out of milk and finding the decision had already been made! Some of these women went back to work a few weeks after birth. Even if Mom (or baby) is too busy to nurse during the day, nursing throughout the night will keep up the supply of breastmilk, providing baby with all the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding.
On the other hand, I know a few moms who encouraged their babies to sleep all night without nursing and they could not keep up with baby's demand. Not nursing at night AND trying to pump instead of nurse during the day? That's really a recipe to lose your milk supply. Now, this does not happen to every mom, but why risk it?
But isn't cosleeping dangerous? Actually, there are some studies that show cosleeping is beneficial to baby. They say Mom's breathing helps regulate Baby's breathing and that intentional cosleeping reduces the risk of SIDS You can find more information on Dr. Sears' website about cosleeping. To make your bed as safe as possible for your little one, use common sense. Cosleeping should be intentional (that means don't fall asleep with baby accidentally). There is little risk of you (the non-smoking Mom) rolling over onto your baby unless you have been drinking, using drugs, are overtired, or are severly obese. However, I don't recommed putting baby between mom and dad (or a sibling). I'm not convinced Dad or a sibling wouldn't accidentally roll onto the baby. You should have a rail or a net to keep baby from rolling out of bed. Keep the floor clear so that if baby does happen to roll out she won't become trapped or suffocate (piles of clothing, trash cans, etc). Never put your baby on the side of bed next to the wall as she could become trapped between the bed and the wall. The safest option is to sleep on a mattress on the floor.
Two excellent breastfeeding/cosleeping resources:
Kellymom- a website devoted to breastfeeding and natural parenting
La Leche League- Their book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, includes practical tips for cosleeping. Even if you choose not to cosleep, this book is essential for the breastfeeding mother!
What about you? How did you maintain your breastmilk supply?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, just a mom who has nursed two babies. Please consult your physician for advice on safe cosleeping. I assume no responsibility for any outcome, good or bad, that results from this advice.
Linked to WFMW and Real Food Wednesday.