There are many benefits of breastfeeding – for you and your baby. It is also a great time for you and your child to bond.

Healthcare professionals recommend that an infant should begin breastfeeding within one hour of being born, as often and as much as the infant wants. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests feeding children breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months of the baby’s life. This means the baby should not receive any additional food or fluids unless directed by a healthcare professional. Once the child reaches 6 months, he or she should be introduced to a balanced diet of vegetables, grains, fruits and proteins.

How does breastfeeding benefit my baby?

Breast milk is made for babies. It has all the essential nutrients a baby needs to be healthy and grow. Breast milk consists of the perfect mix, vitamins, protein and fat. It also has antibodies to help your baby fight viruses and bacteria. Babies who are exclusively fed breast milk have fewer ear infections, respiratory issues and diarrhea. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of asthma and allergies. Overall, these babies visit the doctor less and are less likely to be hospitalized than babies who are fed formula.

The AAP says breastfeeding can help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

According to the AAP, there is unequivocal evidence that breastfeeding helps protect against many diseases and other conditions in the infant, such as:

  • Bacteremia
  • Diarrhea
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Otitis media
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Late-onset sepsis in preterm infants
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Hodgkin’s disease

The AAP also says breastfeeding can help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

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How does breastfeeding benefit mom?

Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding in the following ways:

  • Decreased postpartum bleeding
  • Rapid uterine involution by releasing oxytocin
  • Decreased menstrual blood loss
  • Increased child spacing (lactational amenorrhea)
  • Quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight by burning more calories
  • Decreased risk of breast cancers
  • Decreased risk of ovarian cancers

Breastfeeding also benefits t your wallet. Families who breastfeed are normally less sick. There is no chance of contamination, and it is always the correct temperature. Plus, it helps you save time and money by alleviating the costs of formula, sterilization of nipples and warming bottles.

How long should I breastfeed my baby?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends combining solid food and breast milk after six months for two years, or for as long as the mom and baby desire.

Will I produce enough milk?

At first, your breasts produce colostrum, which is “first milk.” This milk is thick and yellowish. It does not seem like there is a lot, but it will be more than enough for your baby. Colostrum prepares the baby’s digestive tract to digest breast milk.

Your body will make more milk as your baby nurses. If you begin supplementing your breast milk with formula, you risk making less breast milk.  You must continue breastfeeding if you want your body to keep producing milk.

How can I help my baby to begin breastfeeding?

Babies have instincts to immediately start breastfeeding. Most healthy newborns are able to breastfeed within the first hour after birth without any assistance. Your baby should have direct skin-to-skin contact with you immediately after birth if possible. A nurse or lactation consultant can help you determine a comfortable position for you and the baby.

What can I do to help my baby latch on?

The baby will need to attach to your breast. While cupping your breast in one hand, stroke the baby’s lower lip with the nipple. The rooting reflex, which is the baby’s natural instinct to open the mouth and suck, will be stimulated. Pull the baby close when the baby opens his or her mouth. Aim your nipple toward the roof of the baby’s mouth. You should bring the baby to your breast, not your breast to the baby.

How do I know if the baby is latched on correctly?

The baby should have the nipple in his or mouth and most of your areola. The baby’s sucking should be even and smooth. You will also hear the baby swallow and slight tugging. Just start over if the baby is not latched on properly. Insert a clean finger between your baby’s gums and the breast. When you feel a soft pop, you can pull your nipple out of the mouth.

breastfeeding chart

When should I switch breasts?

You can switch your breasts off to feed. The baby does not have to feed from both breasts during one feeding. You can offer the other breast at the next feeding.

How long should each breastfeeding session last?

The baby will set his or her feeding schedule. Most newborn are fed for 10-20 minutes on each breast. However, some may feed for longer. If the baby wants to continue feeding for 30 minutes on each side, he or she may be having trouble getting enough milk. When the baby is full, the baby will either fall asleep or unlatch.

How can I tell if my baby is hungry?

The baby will nuzzle your breast, make sucking motion or put hands to their mouths. Crying is normally a late sign of hunger.

How often should I breastfeed?

Feeding at least 8-12 times in 24 hours or every 2-3 hours is recommended in the baby’s first few weeks.

What problems may I encounter?

Nipple pain: At first, breastfeeding can make your nipples sore. If it does not get better after the first week, you should contact your healthcare provider. Make sure the baby opens his or her mouth wide enough to get some of the areola in the mouth so he or she is not sucking the nipple only. You can apply a small amount of breast milk to the affected area to speed up the healing process.

Engorgement: Your breasts will feel tender, full or even hard if they are full of milk. This issue usually goes away in about a week once your body knows how much milk to produce for your baby. You can breastfeed more often. You can also gently massage your breasts or release some milk with your hand or a pump. Apply warm compresses or take a shower with warm water to help ease the pain during feeding.

Blocked milk duct: A hard knot will form in the breast if a duct gets clogged. Breastfeed more from that breast to get the milk flowing. Apply a warm compress or take shower with warm water to ease pain.

Mastitis: If a clogged duct becomes infected, it is called a mastitis. It can cause flu-like symptoms: fever, aches and fatigue. The breast will be swollen and painful. You should call your healthcare provider. An antibiotic may be prescribed to treat this infection. Ask your doctor if you should continue to breastfeed with this antibiotic in your system.

What should I know about returning to work while breastfeeding?

Your employee is required by law to provide a reasonable amount of time and a suitable place to pump or breastfeed as frequently as necessary for up to 1 year after the birth of the baby. It cannot be a bathroom. It must be complete blocked from view without intrusions by others. You will also need a safe place to properly store the milk.

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