Breast milk supplies the perfect amount of fatty acids, lactose, water, and amino acids for your baby's growth, digestion, and brain development. Here are a few more reasons why breastfeeding is best for baby:
- The antibodies in breast milk protect infants from bacteria and viruses, helping to fight off infection and diseases.
- Breastfeeding can protect your baby from developing allergies, and reduces the risk of SIDS.
- Breastfeeding can protect your baby against obesity and unnecessary weight gain in the future.
- The exercise of suckling on the breast promotes good jaw development and encourages the growth of strong, healthy teeth.
- Breastfeeding also has psychological benefits for your baby. Breastfed babies know the smell of their mother and her milk. Breastfeeding is a great time for attachment and bonding between baby and mother.
Breastfeeding is great for a new baby, but it has plenty of positive effects on the mother, as well. Here are just a few:
- Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day, which helps to melt off those extra pregnancy pounds.
- Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which causes uterine contractions, helping to shrink the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size. These uterine contractions also help slow bleeding after delivery and prevent hemorrhaging.
- Oxytocin also decreases blood pressure and has a calming effect when released.
- Nursing is a very relaxing experience for both mother and child. This is a time for bonding and much needed rest for new mothers.
- Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
If you are a first-time mother, getting started with breastfeeding can be a little overwhelming. Our breastfeeding chart will make it easier to keep track of the suckling details.
Positioning your baby correctly is key for a proper latch and will ensure your baby is getting the best intake of milk. Once your baby is correctly latched on, milk flow should come naturally. If you are having difficulty, don't become frustrated or force your nipple into your baby's mouth. Stay calm, sooth your infant, and try a different position.
Staying healthy will also make breastfeeding easier on you and your new baby. Make sure you follow a healthy diet, and avoid foods and substances that are unhealthy or that will make your baby gassy or uncomfortable.
Breastfeeding can sometimes be painful. Nipples can become sore or cracked, and breasts can become painfully engorged with milk. Read advice on how to handle these problems.
If you are experiencing other common problems, such as inverted nipples, a yeast infection, or milk failure, be sure to seek help right away from your doctor or lactation consultant. The sooner you treat your problem, the sooner you and your new baby can begin a comfortable feeding routine.
Sometimes your little one will have problems latching on or suckling, or will only take one breast. No need to panic. Just stay calm and soothe your baby. Once the baby is calm, try again in a different position. Never force your nipple into the baby's mouth.
Once your milk starts flowing, you may experience leakage in your nursing bra and shirt. Be sure to invest in nursing pads. This will cut down on accidents, laundry, and embarrassing moments.
If you are having trouble breastfeeding, a support group may be helpful. Most support groups are free or inexpensive. To find a support group in your area, try the following:
- Contact La Leche League, a national support organization for nursing mothers. The League sponsors groups in many cities, which meet regularly to discuss breastfeeding problems.
- Ask the hospital where you gave birth for suggestions. Many hospitals or birthing facilities offer free support groups that meet weekly or bi-monthly.
- Ask your obstetrician, gynecologist, general practitioner, pediatrician, midwife, or childbirth educator about local support groups.
- Contact a lactician (lactation consultant).