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Breast Feeding

     It is important to understand that it takes most first-time mothers and their babies around six weeks to settle into nursing, to a point where it's easy for both of them. Those first weeks are bound to be exhausting and emotionally supercharged, but even at the beginning, breastfeeding doesn't have to hurt.

     Breasts can become engorged with too much milk and with the extra blood supply that comes with it, and that can indeed be horribly painful. If they're too huge and hard, the baby may not be able to latch on and suck, but if you encourage the baby to suckle often enough in his first couple of weeks, that situation will never arise.

     Nipples can get chapped and sore; they can even develop tiny painful cracks, and those cracks can let infection in, but if the baby is properly latched on for feedings, none of that will happen, because it will not be the nipple that he/she sucks on but the much larger area of the areola.

     Make sure your baby faces the breast directly so he doesn't have to turn his/her head and pull on the nipple. Touch his/her lower lip, so he opens his mouth widely, then slip your nipple right to the back of his mouth. His/her suction will hold the breast there out of harm's way, while his/her jaws squeeze the areola.

     If you are experiencing engorgement or sore nipples, seek out your pediatrician or a lactation counselor. The La Leche League is the most notable of the breastfeeding advocacy groups. There are La Leche offices across the country, your pediatrician's office can probably help you get in contact with them.

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