Breast milk helps keep your baby healthy.
Why is Breastfeeding Important for your Baby?
- It supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions.
- It protects against allergies, sickness, and obesity.
- It protects against diseases, like diabetes and cancer.
- It protects against infections, like ear infections.
- It is easily digested – no constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach.
- Babies have healthier weights as they grow.
- Breastfed babies score higher on IQ tests.
Breast milk is always ready and good for the environment.
- It is available wherever and whenever your baby needs it.
- It is always at the right temperature, clean and free.
- No bottles to clean.
- Breastfeeding has no waste, so it is good for the environment.
Why is Breastfeeding Important for You?
Mothers who breastfeed:
- Have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer
- May find it easier to return to what they weighed before they got pregnant
- Strengthen the bond with their children
Making it Work – You Can Do It!
Some helpful hints:
- Breastfeed soon after birth and breastfeed frequently 8 to 12 times in a 24 hour period.
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin.
- Keep your baby with you in the hospital.
- Do not give a pacifier or bottle until breastfeeding is well established.
- Give only breast milk.
What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby?
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat — everything your baby needs to grow. And it’s all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies. Plus, babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.
Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies. What’s more, the physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact all help your baby bond with you and feel secure. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children. The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It’s been thought to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers as well, but more research is needed.
Are There Breastfeeding Benefits for the Mother?
Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. It may lower your risk of osteoporosis, too.
Since you don’t have to buy and measure formula, sterilize nipples, or warm bottles, it saves you time and money. It also gives you regular time to relax quietly with your newborn as you bond.
Even if you breastfeed less than the recommended 6 months, it’s better to breastfeed for a short time than no time at all. You can add solid food at 6 months but also continue to breastfeed if you want to keep producing milk.
What’s the Best Position for Breastfeeding?
The best position for you is the one where you and your baby are both comfortable and relaxed, and you don’t have to strain to hold the position or keep nursing. Here are some common positions for breastfeeding your baby:
- Cradle position. Rest the side of your baby’s head in the crook of your elbow with his whole body facing you. Position your baby’s belly against your body so he feels fully supported. Your other, “free” arm can wrap around to support your baby’s head and neck — or reach through your baby’s legs to support the lower back.
- Football position. Line your baby’s back along your forearm to hold your baby like a football, supporting his head and neck in your palm. This works best with newborns and small babies. It’s also a good position if you’re recovering from a cesarean birth and need to protect your belly from the pressure or weight of your baby.
- Side-lying position. This position is great for night feedings in bed. Side-lying also works well if you’re recovering from an episiotomy, an incision to widen the vaginal opening during delivery. Use pillows under your head to get comfortable. Then snuggle close to your baby and use your free hand to lift your breast and nipple into your baby’s mouth. Once your baby is correctly “latched on,” support your baby’s head and neck with your free hand so there’s no twisting or straining to keep nursing.
What Are the ABCs of Breastfeeding?
- A = Awareness. Watch for your baby’s signs of hunger, and breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry. This is called “on demand” feeding. The first few weeks, you may be nursing eight to 12 times every 24 hours. Hungry infants move their hands toward their mouths, make sucking noises or mouth movements, or move toward your breast. Don’t wait for your baby to cry. That’s a sign he’s too hungry.
- B = Be patient. Breastfeed as long as your baby wants to nurse each time. Don’t hurry your infant through feedings. Infants typically breastfeed for 10 to 20 minutes on each breast.
- C = Comfort. This is key. Relax while breastfeeding, and your milk is more likely to “let down” and flow. Get yourself comfortable with pillows as needed to support your arms, head, and neck, and a footrest to support your feet and legs before you begin to breastfeed.
Are There Medical Considerations With Breastfeeding?
In a few situations, breastfeeding could cause a baby harm. You should not breastfeed if:
- You are HIV positive. You can pass the HIV virus to your infant through breast milk.
- You have active, untreated tuberculosis.
- You’re receiving chemotherapy for cancer.
- You’re using an illegal drug, such as cocaine or marijuana.
- Your baby has a rare condition called galactosemia and cannot tolerate the natural sugar, called galactose, in breast milk.
- You’re taking certain prescription medications, such as some drugs for migraine headaches, Parkinson’s disease, or arthritis.