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Why doesn't my baby want to nurse?

SO you've decide to give your baby the best gift of life - your breastmilk.

Breastmilk is the best food for baby because it provides all the nutrients that are crucial for an infant's growth and development, and also protects babies against infections and illnesses.

But despite the good advice from your doctor, family, and friends about breastfeeding, you may have some problems or concerns that you are too shy to ask.

As they say, there is no such thing as a stupid question. Here are some common questions and concerns that most nursing mothers encounter, even if they are "veteran" mothers.

Is it normal for my baby to spit up after feeds?

It is common for babies to sometimes spit up their milk after feedings. This is usually due to the baby's immature digestive tract, or it occurs if the baby has eaten too much.

Your baby may spit up when you are burping him or her - this is so common that parents have nicknamed it the "wet burp".

You can lessen the spitting by burping your baby every three to five minutes during feeding. Giving smaller, more frequent feeds rather than large volume feeds may also help.

Positions are important. Make sure your baby's head is at a level above his feet while feeding, and keep him upright after feeding - the best position is to hold your baby and burp him or her.

As long as your baby is growing well and gaining weight, and doesn't seem to be uncomfortable with the spitting up, you do not have to worry. However, if your baby is vomiting forcefully or spitting up too much milk every time, you should ask your paediatrician for advice. Try to keep a record of exactly how often and how much your baby is spitting up so that it will help your doctor to properly diagnose the problem.

Generally, spitting up is just a phase and many babies will outgrow this by the time they're able to sit upright.

Can I still breastfeed if I'm sick?

There are rare exceptions when you cannot breastfeed your baby, such as when you have certain medical conditions.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, breastfeeding is not advisable if you are HIV-positive, taking antiretroviral medications, have untreated, active tuberculosis, are infected with human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I or type II, using illicit drugs, taking prescribed cancer chemotherapy agents, or undergoing radiation therapies.

In some conditions, such as with nuclear medicine therapies, you only have to stop breastfeeding temporarily. In this case, you can pump and discard the breast milk until you're able to start nursing again so that you can maintain your milk production.

Your doctor is the best person to make a case-by-case assessment when you are diagnosed with any medical condition or prescribed any medications, and advise you whether it is safe to continue breastfeeding.

Why does my baby bite me when feeding?

Some mothers may be embarrased to ask about this because they think it is weird. But it is more common than you think.

Babies often use their gums - or when they begin teething, their teeth - to play with their mothers' nipples. This should not occur when your baby is nursing, because once your baby is positioned and latched on correctly, your nipple should be far back in your baby's mouth. However, when your baby is starting to pull away from your breast, he or she might bite you at that point. This can be prevented by slipping your finger into the corner of your baby's mouth to break the suction.

Biting is also a sign that your baby is distracted or bored. If you think that this is the reason, try initiating a new activity to engage your baby, and give him an extra hug or kiss if he nurses without biting.

If your baby is teething, you can offer him a teething toy or ring - which is a much better alternative to your nipple!

Does my breastfed baby need extra vitamins?

Breastmilk is the complete food for your baby, especially during the first six months of age. It contains all the vitamins and minerals that your baby needs to grow and develop.

But do remember that the amount and types of vitamins in breast milk is directly related to your vitamin intake. It is essential that your diet contains adequate levels of vitamins, particularly fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, and water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, and panthothenic acid.

Why doesn't my baby want to nurse?

Does it seem like your baby has suddenly gone 'on strike'? It can be worrying, especially if your baby usually breastfeeds with no problems at all.

This problem has been known to happen and usually only lasts a few days. It may be due to the fact that your baby is teething and sore gums make it uncomfortable or painful for him to nurse.

If you have been stressed recently or changed your nursing patterns due to a change in your daily routine, this could also affect your baby's nursing.

Your baby may have sensed something "different" about you - whether it's the fact that you're using a new soap, perfume, deodorant or lotion, or that a change in your diet is making your milk taste different.

Of course, there's also the possibility that you're not the source of the problem - it could be that your baby is suffering from an ear infection, a stuffed-up nose, a cut in his mouth, or an oral infection called thrush.

If your paediatrician examines your baby and finds that there is nothing wrong, you can try to overcome the "strike" in your own way. Try to spend more time with your baby so that you can coax him to nurse without getting stressed about it. You may need to ask a family member, friend or babysitter to help out with the other chores in the house.

It may take a while to get your nursing schedule back to normal. Until then, make sure you pump or hand express to keep your milk supply up and to make sure the baby is getting enough to eat.

If you are stressed, your baby will sense it too - so make it as enjoyable for your baby as possible. Remember, it's not just about feeding your baby, it's also about bonding with him. Nurse in a quiet, comfortable place, and hug, caress and kiss your little one - it will comfort both baby and mother!

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