How do newborns benefit from breastfeeding?
Breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, carbohydrates, and antibodies that protect babies from certain illnesses and infections. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, moms should exclusively breastfeed their newborns for the first six months of life, and continue for at least 12 months. By breastfeeding your newborn, you can decrease your baby's risk of:
- Ear infections
- Respiratory infections
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
How do women who are nursing benefit from breastfeeding?
When women breastfeed, studies have shown that they can decrease their risk of the following conditions and diseases:
- Type II diabetes
- Ovarian cancer
- Pre-menopausal breast cancer
- Heart disease in the future
- Postpartum depression
Are there different types of breast milk?
- Pre-milk made during pregnancy that your baby receives after delivery.
- It's in a small amount and is perfect for the infant.
- Changes into regular milk two to five days after delivery.
- Milk released at the start of a feeding when your breasts are full.
- Low in fat and calories.
- Milk released at the end of a feeding.
- As your breast starts to empty, fat globules dislodge and move down the ducts.
- High in fat and calories.
How do you know when your baby is ready to eat?
Babies give feeding cues when they are hungry, such as:
- Smacking lips
- Sucking their fingers
- Clenching fist
- Moving head from side to side
How should I position myself and my baby for breastfeeding?
There are many different positions for breastfeeding, however, the key in the beginning is to use a pillow to support the baby’s body.
Nursing moms should use one of their hands to support the infant, and the other hand to support her breast.
How do I help my baby latch onto my breast?
Breastfeeding is natural and practiced by billions of women around the world. However, it's a skill that takes patience and practice to learn how to do correctly.
The following steps can help your newborn successfully attach to your breast:
- Bring your baby close to you, facing and touching your body.
- Lightly touch your nipple to your baby's upper lip (this will cause the baby's mouth to open).
- Be patient and wait for your infant to open its mouth very wide, like a yawn.
- Quickly bring your baby toward the breast (with your hand behind their shoulders) and aim the nipple toward the roof of the mouth.
- Continue to breastfeed until your baby is full.
Watch Attaching Your Baby at the Breast for a tutorial on how to latch.
Should I switch breasts?
- Do not limit breastfeeding to a set amount of time.
- Watch the baby, not the clock. Continue to breastfeed, as long as the baby is actively suckling.
- When your baby is finished with the first breast, if they are still giving feeding cues, offer the second breast.
How will I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Your baby should nurse as long as they are actively suckling and swallowing while breastfeeding. In addition, you should look for these signs:
- Feeding between 8-12 times a day.
- Peeing and pooping throughout the day.
- While sleeping or awake, your baby does not give feeding cues after feeding (i.e., smacking licks, sucking fingers).
- Routine weight checks with the healthcare provider.
How often should I use a breast pump?
- If your baby is breastfeeding well, it's recommend to not actively pump your breasts the first three to four weeks after you've given birth.
- If you choose to pump and feed your baby a bottle, it's recommended to pump your breasts after breastfeeding and store the milk.
What do I do if my baby isn't latching?
- Contact your healthcare provider.
- Contact a lactation or breastfeeding consultant.
- Pump your breasts every three hours until your infant is latching.
- Number one rule: Feed the baby a supplement if needed.
How do I care for my breasts when they become sore, tender or chapped?
- Proper latching and positioning will prevent sore nipples.
- Nipple creams can be soothing, but make sure the product states it does not have to be removed.
- Contact a lactation or breastfeeding consultant if soreness does not improve.
What foods should I eat to stay healthy while breastfeeding?
Getting an adequate amount of nutrition is critical for the health of you and your baby’s growth and development. You should include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy products. In addition, you should:
- Add 300-500 extra (nutrient dense) calories while breastfeeding.
- Continue with prenatal vitamins.
What should I avoid doing or eating and drinking while breastfeeding?
Moms breastfeed all over the world, and most will not stop eating their cultural foods. The most important thing to remember is that moderation is the key when you are eating.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have concerns with your diet.
Women who are pregnant and nursing should not use tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs, or prescription medications for nonmedical reasons.
If you're pregnant and need help with an addiction to substances, Mothers in Recovery may be able to help. Call 954-276-3429 for more information.