Nursing and the Need to Suck

Posted by Linda

Did you know that suckling at the breast is a powerful way to soothe the baby? It is also a biological need, as is eating. Suckling or sucking is characterized by rapid repeated sucks distinguished by little swallowing. Swallowing is a great way to tell whether the baby is getting milk or not when you are nursing. I always listen for that noise because like myself, many mothers wonder from time to time, if the baby is getting enough milk.

Dr. Weissbluth, in his book “Healthy Sleep, Happy Child” states that removing the baby from the breast while he is sucking is unnatural and unhealthy. Some women remove the baby from the breast while he is sucking before he falls asleep, in the belief that in doing so they will prevent sleeping problems from developing. Of course, this behavior is untrue. Some women hold the baby’s lips together to stop their baby from sucking. Remember sucking is part of the baby’s natural development. Others might wake the baby up after he has fallen asleep on the breast while sucking. According to research, there is no evidence that any of these actions lead to the prevention of sleep problems.

Mothers who take the baby off the breast after they think that the child has had enough time to eat, maybe ten minutes or so, may not have educated themselves about the nursing or feeding process. It takes time. Each baby differs in the amount they want to nurse, but generally it takes about a half an hour of nursing followed by maybe two hours of not eating and then the process begins again. Breast milk is digested about every two hours and then the baby is hungry again. Breastfeeding requires time and patience and the recognition that this period after birth, especially the first six weeks, is time to bond with your child and well as take care of his or her physical needs. As the poem goes cleaning and sweeping can wait til tomorrow, for babies soon grow we learn to our sorrow. This time is precious. Finally if you are concerned about developing sleep habits and think that topping the tank so to speak, will help the baby sleep longer, remember, it is the brain that controls sleep, not the tummy.

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