DEAR DR. DONOHUE: In two months, I will be a first-time mother. I want to breastfeed my baby, but I really am at sea about understanding what I need to do. When does breastfeeding begin? How can I know if the baby gets enough to eat? Do I breastfeed during the night? All information will be welcomed. – L.T.

ANSWER:
Breastmilk is the most nutritious food a baby can get. Furthermore, breastfeeding promotes an emotional union of mother and child. Human milk contains antibodies that aid an infant’s immature immune system in warding off infections. Breastfed babies have fewer ear, respiratory and digestive-tract infections than do bottle-fed babies. It’s been shown that breastfed babies are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, become obese or have eczema. Mothers who breastfeed have a lesser incidence of breast and ovarian cancer.

Breastfeeding can begin shortly after a baby is born. You can tell that a baby is getting enough to eat if it isn’t losing weight by the end of its first week and if it is gaining weight by the end of the second week.

Middle-of-the-night feedings are usual in the first three to six weeks of a baby’s life.

Either the doctor who delivers you or the doctor who is going to be the infant’s doctor can give you all the information you need on how to feed your baby successfully.

You have another great source of information, the La Leche League. It’s an international support group started by a group of women in the Chicago area in the 1950s, and has grown to a worldwide organization. The league provides women with knowledge on the proper techniques of breastfeeding and supplies answers to any questions you have. You live in a large metropolitan area that probably has a chapter of the league. You can reach its headquarters at www.llli.org or at 800-525-3243.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Can hair grow on the lips if a person shaves very close to the upper and lower lips? Some informed individuals say no. – L.G.

ANSWER:
Never in my life have I seen hair on people’s lips. Lips have no hair follicles. You even could shave the lips if you felt so inclined (but please don’t try this), and hair would not grow on them. If you have evidence to the contrary, let me know.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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