- According to the latest studies, babies who have been fed solely with breast milk for at least 6 months have stronger immune system and are less prone to illnesses, and are most likely to maintain a healthy weight.
- When mothers breastfeed, they are actually delaying their menstrual period. Breastfeeding could also help in proper pregnancy gaps.
- Breastfeeding greatly helps in cutting the risk of certain cancers such as ovarian cancer and breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding strengthens the connection between the child and the mother.
- Interestingly, mothers who breastfeed have higher self-confidence than those who don't.
Benefits of Breastfeeding on Families
- Breastfeeding significantly cuts the family's expenses on baby food and health care.
- Breastfeeding ensures optimum health for babies, thus, consequently resulting to a healthier community.
Tips for Your First Breastfeeding Experiences
- Reach out to other mothers who have also breastfed so you can learn from their experiences.
- While still in the pregnancy stage, do some research about breastfeeding so that you will already have an idea of what to do the moment your baby arrives.
- Be religious with your prenatal appointments with your doctor so you and your baby can be properly monitored and cared for.
- Make sure to inform your doctor of any surgery or medical procedure that you have undergone.
- Breastfeed your baby immediately after giving birth since the baby's instinct to suck are at its peak during this period.
- If you have inverted nipples, ask your doctor if this will be a major problem for you and your baby later on.
- Ideally, your baby should be kept with you in your hospital room so you can breastfeed anytime and also bond more with each other.
- While your baby is still in the nursery, give specific instructions to the nurses to not feed your baby with infant formula, but instead bring the baby to you during feeding time.
- Don't be surprised if your milk production substantially increases a few days after giving birth; this is normal, especially after an easy and normal delivery.
- If you feel any discomfort or pain during breastfeeding, don't hesitate at all to ask for help.
- Make sure to breastfeed your baby as often as needed; babies normally need about 10 feedings per day.
- Most importantly, don't ever pressure yourself into doing breastfeeding perfectly right away. You and your baby will eventually grow more comfortable into the process as each day goes by.
Answers to Common Questions About Breastfeeding:How soon can I start breastfeeding my baby?
Immediately after giving birth, you can already breastfeed your baby. It is during this period when the baby's sucking instinct is at its peak. It is also at this time when the mother's breasts produce colostrum, a yellowish milk which is rich in antibodies for the baby's optimum protection.
Is it painful to breastfeed?
Normally, breastfeeding is a painless process. Initially, you might feel slight soreness or sensitivity, but in the succeeding days, you can expect that uncomfortable feeling to disappear. To reduce any feeling of pain, make sure that your baby's mouth is wide open so that he or she will be able to suck in the entire areola, if not most of it. As long as breastfeeding is done properly, it will be a relaxed and easy experience for the mother and the baby. If ever it continues to hurt even after several days of breastfeeding, ask help from your doctor or seek advice from those who know enough about this process.
How many times in a day should the baby be breastfed?
There is no standard schedule that mommies need to follow when it comes to breastfeeding. However, newborn babies need to be fed as often as possible, preferably on a 2-hour interval. Frequent breastfeeding helps in producing more milk.
Are there certain foods to avoid or stick with when breastfeeding?
There are actually several different beliefs as well as recommendations as to the food and drinks that breastfeeding mothers should take or do away with. However, studies suggest that the foods that mothers eat do not have a major effect on the quality of her milk. It can be expected though that during this period, mothers tend to eat more, which is understandable since making milk burns about 500 calories a day. What is really important though is for mothers to eat healthy to keep themselves in excellent condition, both mentally and physically.
Common Changes That Take Place in the First Few Weeks
|Birth||Just a small amount of breastmilk which will look yellowish; this is the colostrum, a kind of milk that is rich in antibodies||Expectedly, you will still be feeling weary, yet excited. You can take advantage of this time to practice breastfeeding and learn more about your baby||Your baby can stay awake for about an hour from the time of birth. Make the most of this time by breastfeeding your little one.|
|First 12 to 24 Hours||In each feeding session, your baby can now consume approximately a teaspoon of your milk. Your body can now also produce a sufficient amount of milk that the baby needs.||Make sure that you are well rested. Explore and slowly understand the changes that come with being a new mother. In the event that you feel any pain during breastfeeding, make sure to seek the advice and help from your doctor or from others who are knowledgeable about this.||In the first 24 hours of a baby's life, they are expected to sleep through almost the whole day. The whole process of being born is actually quite stressful for the baby too, hence, the need for a deep and serious sleep. But once they are awake, they need to be breastfed every so often, especially that it is during this time when their instinct to suck is so strong. Make sure to ask the nurses to avoid giving your baby formula milk unless it becomes really necessary to do so.|
|2nd to 5th Day||By this time, your milk will have most likely turned bluish white in color. However, it could still appear yellowish until 2 weeks from the time you gave birth.||Noticeably, your breasts become bigger and milk may just suddenly leak out. Most often, the breasts will swell and feel hard. If this is the case, try squeezing or pumping out a little amount of milk before breastfeeding your baby. In a day or 2, the swelling is expected to disappear. Breastfeeding can greatly help in easing the discomfort that comes with the swelling Using ice packs is also helpful.||Babies need a lot of feeding sessions in a day. It is normal for them to feed every 2 hours or even every hour. The time it takes for them to finish each feeding varies among different babies. They may also lose a little bit of weight after delivery, but will return to their normal weight when they reach their 2nd week.|
|First 4 to 6 Weeks||Changes in the color of the milk are noticeable during the course of the feeding session. It could appear bluish white when you start to breastfeed and would turn white when you're almost done.||Your body now becomes well-adjusted to the whole breastfeeding process. Your breast will no longer feel hard and your milk no longer leaks out, or at least the leaking has been minimized.||By this time, babies can latch on more easily and can already consume more milk due to their bigger stomachs. Since their tummies can hold more milk, feedings will be less frequent as compared to the first few days.|
How to Tell if Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk
One good way of determining if your baby is being fed enough milk is by monitoring the number of diapers used in a day. During the first week, babies normally use up about 1-2 diapers each day since milk production is quite low at this time. Eventually, when your milk production increases and your baby's stomach becomes larger, the number of diapers used will also increase. You can expect around 6 wet diapers and about 4 dirty diapers on average per day. If for some reason you are worried about your baby's weight, don't hesitate to call your pediatrician.
The following table indicates the average number of diapers that healthy babies use in a day. If your baby uses more, there's no need for alarm. If you're doubtful though, you can always seek the advice of your baby's doctor.
|Baby's Age||Number of Wet Diapers||Waste Color and Texture|
|Day 1 (birth)||1||Thick, dark|
|Day 2||2||Thick, dark|
|Day 3||3||Greenish yellow|
|Day 4 (upon increase of milk production)||5-6||Greenish yellow|
|Day 5||5-6||Seedy, watery, mustard in color|
|Day 6||5-6||Seedy, watery, mustard in color|
|Day 7||5-6||Seedy, watery, mustard in color|
- A breastfeeding pillow such as a Boppy or the My Breast Friend can help with getting a good latch. The My Breast Friend is gaining popularity because its flat shape with a small bump behind the baby helps prevent the baby from rolling off.
- Make sure your breast is well supported while breastfeeding your baby. The proper way to do this is by placing your thumb on top of your breast while the other four fingers should be positioned underneath. See to it that your fingers are not touching the areola or the dark skin surrounding the nipple; instead, your fingers should be placed behind it.
- Gently brush your nipple on your baby's lips to prompt the baby to open his or her mouth.
- Position your baby close to your chest, making sure that his or her entire body is facing yours. Guide your baby as he or she latches on; see to it that his or her lips are properly placed and that he or she is able to take in not just the nipple but a big part of the areola as well.
- As your baby tries to get the hang of breastfeeding, his or her chin and nose may brush against your breast. At times, you may also see your baby's jaw move. However, as expressed earlier, mothers should remember that breastfeeding shouldn't be a painful experience. If you experience any pain, most probably the baby is not latched on properly. Reposition the baby and try again.
There are a number of effective ways to hold your baby while breastfeeding:
You can also use the cradle hold. This kind of position is most commonly used by a lot of mothers. To do this, simply hold your baby in such a way that his head is resting in your upper arm and his or her entire body facing yours.
Clutch Hold or Football Hold
If you have inverted nipples or larger busts, an appropriate position that you can use is the clutch hold, also known as the football hold. To do this, clutch your baby at your side, making sure his or her head is at the level of your breast, close to the nipple. Support your baby's head by letting it rest firmly and securely on your palm.
Cross Cradle or Transitional Hold
If your baby is quite small, or has a hard time latching on, it might be more suitable to use the transitional hold, otherwise known as cross cradle. This is done by holding your baby in the arm opposite the breast that you will use for breastfeeding. Make sure the baby's head is properly supported by letting it rest firmly on your palm.
Side Lying Position
To give mothers a chance to sleep comfortably while breastfeeding their baby, they can use the side-lying position. To do this, lie on your left or right side, bring the baby close to you, making sure that his or her mouth is close to your nipple.
Breastfeeding in Public
Is it really necessary to breastfeed in public?
Breastfeeding in public isn't a necessity. It is common to feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in a public place at first. Often, after a couple of tries, mothers become more at ease and confident about the thought of having to breastfeed in public. It also greatly helps to reach out to other breastfeeding moms and learn from their experience.
The following are some tips which breastfeeding moms can also benefit from:
- If you won't be out too long, feed your baby before you leave and again once you get home.
- If your baby needs a feeding while you're in a mall, look for a women's lounge, customer's lounge, or a comfortable area where you can sit and breastfeed your baby.
- You can also go inside your car during feeding sessions.
- If you are in someone else's house, you can ask the owner of the house if you can go to one of the rooms so you can comfortably nurse your baby.
- It's tempting to just use the baby bottle to feed your baby in public places. As much as possible though, refrain from doing this so that your baby can really get used to breastfeeding and be able to latch on perfectly.
Is it ok to let my baby use a pacifier while at the breastfeeding stage?
According to breastfeeding experts, it would be best to avoid using pacifiers for at least the baby's first month. Using pacifiers might hinder the baby's capability of learning how to breastfeed. When you and your baby have gotten the hang of breastfeeding, you can then have the option of letting your baby use a pacifier.
Returning to Work
Is it still possible to breastfeed if I return work?
Definitely, you can still breastfeed even if you have reported back to work or back to school. Inform your employers and colleagues that you will still continue to breastfeed your baby so they can also understand your needs and requests. Find time to pump your milk in a private place and store it in a cooler or refrigerator so you can feed it to your baby when you get home. But again, as stated previously, it would be best to introduce baby bottles to your baby only when he or she reaches about 4-6 weeks so he can learn to breastfeed well during the first month after birth.
What is the best type of breast pump to use?
There are several kinds of breast pumps available in the market today. You can buy from department stores or at baby supply stores. Prices range from $25 for a good manual breast pump to more than $200 for an electric pump. The more expensive ones are electric pumps that come with a carrying case as well as an insulated section where milk containers can be stored. There are also top of the line automatic pumps which can be purchased or even rented from hospitals or from a lactation consultant.
Several mothers also prefer to use pumps which allow them to pump both breasts at the same time. This kind of pump can either be bought or rented. It might be quite costly compared to the traditional pumps, but this kind of pump is more effective. It offers more convenience to the mothers and saves them a lot of time pumping their milk. If you're doubtful about which one to use, ask the help from other mothers or breastfeeding experts.
Is it okay to give water to my baby or feed him with baby food?
In the first 6 months of a baby's life, your milk is solely what his or her body needs for optimum nutrition and health. A newborn baby has a delicate digestive system, hence, it is advisable not feed him or her other liquids such as juice and water. You have to wait until your baby reaches 6 months before you feed him or her with solids or other liquids other than breast milk. This helps protect your baby from diseases and allergies early on in life.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Is it true that babies nowadays are at risk for vitamin D deficiency?
Although the AAP or The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a statement back in 2003 that some babies are susceptible to diseases brought about by vitamin D deficiency, this should not be a major cause of concern to mothers. Today, vitamin D supplements for infants can now be bought over the counter. The AAP updated its guidelines in 2008 and now recommends that babies, regardless if they are breastfed or formula-fed, should be given at least 400 International Units of vitamin D per day starting from the time they reach 2 months all the way through childhood and adolescence. Sunlight is also a great source of vitamin D, although there are actually a lot of factors that affect the amount of vitamin D that the baby's body can produce from it.
Weaning Your Baby
When is the best time to wean my baby?
Ideally, babies should be exclusively breastfed for at least 6 months. Your baby will get maximum benefit if you could continue until his/her first birthday as recommended by AAP.
How can I motivate my husband or partner to support me with breastfeeding?
As early as during pregnancy, start explaining to your husband about the many benefits of breastfeeding. Make sure to stress its significance to your baby's health as an infant and even on his wellness in the future. Don't forget to mention the advantages that it brings to your family financially. Breastfeeding could save you hundreds of dollars in the long run since formula milk can be quite costly. Together with your partner, come up with ways that he can bond and get to know your baby better. Encourage him to read to your baby or cradle your baby to sleep. Whatever activities you can come up with, make sure that it does not just involve you and the baby, but also your partner.
Alcohol & Smoking
Is it safe to breastfeed even if I drink alcohol or smoke?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently pointed out that the positive effects of breastfeeding offset the negative impact of the mother's smoking. However, it cannot be argued that if you quit smoking or at least minimize the number of cigarettes you consume in a day, you and your baby will definitely be in a far better physical state. When it comes to alcohol drinking, as long as it's not excessive, then it won't be harmful to the baby. But when taken in large amounts, it could negative effect on the baby in the long run.
If I have to take some medication, is it still possible to breastfeed?
While you are still breastfeeding, make sure to always check with your doctor prior to taking any medication. Your healthcare provider can guide you in deciding which medication is safe to take. If you need more information on specific over the counter drugs or prescription medication, you can also visit www.aap.org.
Importance to Our Society
Why is breastfeeding an important issue for the US Department of Health and for Human Services?
Breastfeeding is a worldwide health issue that offers tremendous benefits to mothers, babies, and ultimately to the community. Breastfed babies, especially those who are breastfed for at least 6 months, most likely become healthier adults who can contribute to the improvement of the society. Breastfeeding reduces instances of illnesses, hospitalization, and childhood obesity. Recent studies have also indicated that the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lesser the likelihood of her getting breast cancer.
Why Women Don't Breastfeed
Why are more and more women not breastfeeding their babies?
There are various reasons why several women opt not to breastfeed their baby. The following are some of the reasons based on the results of the focus groups conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health:
- A lot of women were raised in an environment where breastfeeding was not given much importance. As a consequence, these women never knew anything about breastfeeding and the benefits that it brings.
- Most career women feel that it is quite impossible to strike a balance between breastfeeding and working away from home.
- Women have this misconception that most of the time breastfeeding is indeed painful, as related by other mothers or based on their experience from their previous children.
- Some women cannot afford to pay for prenatal care, thus their babies are at a greater risk for premature birth or abnormal birth weight. With this, it will even be more difficult for them to breastfeed. Prenatal care should also cover providing of information to mothers about breastfeeding.
Additional Help & Advice
Where can I go to seek help and advice on breastfeeding?
There are agencies or organizations that are dedicated to providing help and information to mothers who have problems or issues in regard to breastfeeding. The following are the organizations that you can go to for assistance:
African American Breastfeeding Alliance, Inc. (AABA)
This is the first ever organization that was put up with the primary purpose of promoting breastfeeding African American families. The AABA's programs are all geared towards the overall well-being of African American babies. If you wish to speak with someone from this organization, call their toll-free hotline at 1-877-532-8535.
La Leche League International
This organization provides women with significant information about breastfeeding. This group has volunteers who voluntarily offer their services over the phone or during regular meetings. If you wish to know more about La Leche League International and its products and services, you can visit their website at www.llli.org. If you want to speak with a volunteer, you can call 1-800-LA LECHE.
National Women's Health Information Centeró Breastfeeding Helpline and Web Site
This organization has professional health workers/lactation consultants who will assist new mothers in order to successfully breastfeed their newborn. If you notice the tag IBCLC on these consultants, this means that they are certified professionals duly acknowledged by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. If you wish to find an IBCLC in your area, go to www.iblce.org.