Breastfeeding is one of the most natural and beautiful things a mother can do for her child. It’s a special bonding experience that can provide countless benefits for both mother and baby. In fact, it can be downright tough at times. This is why we have put together this comprehensive guide to breastfeeding. Whether you are a first-time mom or a seasoned pro, we have got all the info you need to make breastfeeding a success. From latching tips to pumping advice, read on for everything you need to know about breastfeeding.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding
There are many benefits to breastfeeding for both mother and child. It can help the mother bond with her baby, and it can also help the baby develop a healthy immune system. Additionally, breastfeeding can help reduce the risk of developing certain diseases later in life, such as obesity and type II diabetes.
Benefits for Mom
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. There are continued benefits from breastfeeding beyond 1 year, and up to 2 years, especially for the mother. 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.
Breastfeeding offers other several benefits for you, too. It lowers your risk for several diseases and conditions, like:
- Endometrial cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease including high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Postpartum depression
Benefits for 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. It 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.
Here are other conditions that lower the risk for babies when breastfed:
- Bacterial meningitis
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and infant mortality
- Childhood obesity
- Type 2 diabetes
- Leukemia (in childhood)
- Cavities and orthodontic problems
- Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Breast milk contains everything your baby needs to grow and develop. It provides a unique and specific formula of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some nutritional benefits of breast milk are:
- Easy to digest for your baby’s immature tummy and intestines
- Contains antibodies that protect against infection and boost immunity
- It has the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and vitamins for your baby’s development
- Promotes healthy weight gain in infants
- Changes to meet your baby’s nutritional needs as they grow
- Contains substances that naturally soothe your baby
How to Get Started with Breastfeeding
The best time to start it is within the first hour after your baby is born. It is important to keep in mind that every mother and baby are different and there is no one right way to breastfeed. The following are some tips on how to get started:
- It is important to know that it is not always easy. It can be tough in the beginning, and there will be good days and bad days. With a little patience and perseverance, you will get the hang of it!
- Get comfortable: Find a position that works for you and your baby. There are many different positions that can be successful for breastfeeding, so experiment until you find what works best for both of you. Some common positions include the cradle hold, the cross-cradle hold, and the side-lying position.
- You should know that there are a few different positions that you can try when breastfeeding. Some moms prefer to sit up while others like to lie down. There is no right or wrong way, so experiment until you find the position that is most comfortable for you and your baby.
- Once you are comfortable, help your baby latch onto your breast correctly. A proper latch is a key. Place your baby’s mouth directly over your nipple, making sure that their tongue is down far enough to cup the lower part of the nipple. Once they are latched on, you should hear them suck rhythmically. If you hear clicking or smacking sounds, they may not be positioned correctly and may need readjusting.
- It may take a few tries (and a few wet diapers!) before you get the hang of breastfeeding. Don’t get discouraged – just keep at it! If you have any concerns or problems, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider or a lactation consultant who can offer guidance and support.
- Remember to take care of yourself while breastfeeding! Drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy foods to keep up your energy levels. And if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, reach out to a friend or family member for support.
Tips for Successful Breastfeeding
- It can take a little while for your baby to get the hang of it. Be patient and keep trying – they will get there eventually!
- Don’t give up! If it is proving to be difficult, don’t give up! There are plenty of resources available to help you, so seek out help if you need it.
- You can also try pumping your milk instead of breastfeeding, which can be just as effective.
- Pay attention to your baby’s signs and cues that they are hungry – they may start rooting around or making sucking motions with their mouth. Try to offer the breast before they start crying, as this will make it easier for them to latch on.
- Don’t force them to keep going if they are no longer interested; let them decide when they are done.
Where to Get Support for Breastfeeding
There are many sources of support for breastfeeding mothers. Here are some of the most common:
- La Leche League International: This nonprofit organization provides mother-to-mother support, information, and education on breastfeeding.
- National Breastfeeding Hotline: This hotline, operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides information and support. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English and Spanish.
- Breastfeeding USA: This national nonprofit organization provides breastfeeding information and support through a network of volunteer counselors. Offers online resources and an annual conference.
- Your healthcare provider: Many healthcare providers have lactation consultants on staff who can provide one-on-one support for breastfeeding mothers. Ask your provider for referrals to other resources in your community.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your baby and provide them with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. If you are new to breastfeeding or are having difficulties, we hope this article has been helpful. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help — reach out to a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider if you need assistance. For more health tips, visit Centric Healthcare!