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Breastfeeding

If you suffer from sore breasts or mastitis, applying moist heat and massaging your breasts prior to nursing will help, but so will simply continuing to breastfeed. To soothe nipple pain, use a warm compress or simply continue to nurse, making sure that your nipple is centered and completely inside your baby's mouth.

To establish a healthy nursing habit, you should nurse for at least two to three hours a day at first, although you may quickly graduate to nursing as often as eight or twelve times a day, since breastmilk can be digested within an hour and a half. This gives your baby the opportunity to eat the hindmilk, which is very high in fat and calories.

Your baby will set the pace of your feedings and as long as you are feeding him whenever he's hungry, he should be getting enough to eat. A good indicator that he's getting enough is the number of diapers he goes through in a day. In the first few days, he will probably go through one or two diapers a day, and after your milk comes in, at least six. A breastfed baby less than two months old should have two or more bowel movements a day, with less frequent bowel movements after the first couple of months when your baby is able to digest your milk better. Your doctor can also double-check that your baby is eating enough by checking his weight against standard growth charts for his age.

If you want to express your milk, but don't want to use it immediately, you can freeze it for later. The best storage containers are made of hard plastic or glass, but you can also use plastic freezer bags - just be sure to double bag to protect against freezer burn and leaks.

The length of time you may safely store your breast milk depends on how you freeze it. According to Dr. Sears, you can safely freeze your breast milk for up to two weeks in a freezer compartment within a refrigerator, three or four months in a self-contained freezer unit in a refrigerator, and six months in a separate deep freeze unit with a constant temperature. Click here for more information and a printable chart on freezing breastmilk.

You should stop breastfeeding when you and/or your baby decide that it's time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year, but only you and your baby can decide how long to breastfeed.

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