Whether you’re pregnant and considering breastfeeding or you’re a new mom and need a little support with your decision to breastfeed, the providers here at Premier Women’s Care of Southwest Florida put together this list of benefits and tips for breastfeeding to help you in your efforts to give your child their healthiest start in life.
The benefits of breastfeeding are plentiful for both you and your baby. In fact, in 2011 the United States Breastfeeding Committee established August as National Breastfeeding Awareness Month to make families aware of all the good things mother’s milk brings to your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for your baby’s first six months of life, and then at least until 12 months old while adding solid foods to the baby’s diet.
The benefits of breastfeeding for babies include a lower risk of developing:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Ear and respiratory infections
- Sudden infant death syndrome
The benefits for new moms include a lower risk of developing:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
Plus, with the number of calories moms burn breastfeeding, nursing can help them return to their pre-baby weight more quickly. Also, breastfeeding promotes a unique and special mother-baby bonding experience.
Tips to make breastfeeding successful
In spite of the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics to breastfeed your child, only 1 in 4 women exclusively breastfeeds for the first six months. One of the reasons more women don’t is that they don’t get the support they need. Although breastfeeding is a natural way to feed your child, it doesn’t always come naturally to many new moms.
Plus, new moms who need to return to work often have challenges making breastfeeding work for their families. Here are 10 tips to help you breastfeed for as long as possible:
Start breastfeeding right away
Try to breastfeed within the first hour after giving birth. During this time, you’ll be providing your baby colostrum, not breast milk, which is what your body makes immediately after giving birth. It’s chock-full of antibodies that help against your baby’s first exposure to viruses and bacteria. This early breastfeeding experience helps set the two of you up for success while also jump-starting your breastmilk production.
Position your baby correctly
The key to getting your baby to breastfeed is to make sure your baby is latching to your nipple properly. A lactation consultant at the hospital should be able to help make sure your baby’s mouth is open wide enough to get a good latch to empty your milk ducts.
Your breastfeeding position is important as well. If you’re uncomfortable, it will be hard to sit still for the 8-12 times you need to feed your child in a day. Prop or bolster yourself with pillows and invest in a comfortable chair or glider.
Avoid nipple confusion
Try not to offer your baby a pacifier or a bottle until your breastfeeding routine is well established. Other nipple-shaped objects may confuse your baby and make breastfeeding more challenging.
Nursing can make you thirsty and feel dehydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water to give you energy and to make sure your body can make the milk your baby needs!
Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of calcium helps you produce the milk you need to feed your baby and give you the energy to get through the day on a reduced amount of sleep. Try to get about five servings of milk or dairy products every day.
Ask for help with housework
You're busy helping a human being grow. Ask for help with housework and other daily activities, so you have the time and energy to focus on the most important thing in your life.
Make sure your baby is gaining weight
To help ensure that all your breastfeeding diligence and efforts are succeeding, track your baby’s weight gain and count dirty diapers. Your baby should produce about 6-8 wet diapers and 2-5 stools a day, at first. This number changes as your baby gets older and their diet changes.
Get help if it hurts
Sometimes nursing hurts. Your nipple can get dry and cracked. You may develop a condition called mastitis or clogged milk ducts. Speak to a lactation expert right away to get help.
Practice pumping and bottle-feeding before going back to work
Working moms who need to return to work after a few months can still stick to a nursing routine by regularly pumping at work and having a caregiver feed your child with a bottle of breastmilk. Breast pumping can be awkward, so practice before returning to work and also make sure your baby is comfortable taking a bottle.
For more advice on breastfeeding, call the experts here at Premier Women's Care of Southwest Florida or make an appointment online. We have offices in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida.