Breastfeeding Your Baby
One of the most important decisions you will make as a new parent is how you plan to feed your baby. Breast feeding has many benefits and advantages for both mother and baby and is the most natural way to provide the optimal nutrition during the first year of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “breastfeeding ensures the best possible health as well as the best developmental and psychosocial outcomes for the infant”.
How Breastfeeding Works
The breastfeeding process is largely controlled by hormones during pregnancy and shortly thereafter. Usually within two to three days after birth, milk production is determined by how much and how often the breasts are emptied. The more frequently and completely the breasts are emptied, the more milk the mother will make! It is about supply and demand. Giving bottles (even if it is breast milk) or pacifiers can interfere with milk production. We encourage you to wait until the baby is about four weeks old before introducing either. Newborns need to nurse between 8 and 12 times in a 24 hours period.
Advantages of Breast Milk and Breastfeeding
Human milk is intended for human babies. It provides everything a baby is known to need and has many benefits…
Breastfeeding benefits to the baby:
Changes to meet the baby’s changing needs
Promotes normal brain development
Promotes eye and jaw muscle development
Contains antibacterial and antiviral properties
Reduces the risk of SIDS
Reduces the risk of development of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Decreases risk for obesity
Decreases risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections
Breastfeeding benefits to the mother and family:
Always available and needs no preparation
Reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer
Reduces risk of developing endometrial cancer
Causes the uterus to return to its pre-pregnant size more quickly
Stimulates the building of strong bones in the mother
Psychological benefits of increased self-confidence and enhanced bonding
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While breastfeeding is very normal, natural and the ideal way to feed your baby, it is not always easy in the beginning. It takes practice and patience.
Many new moms are very surprised by how much time it takes to feed their baby in the early weeks. Babies do require a lot of time and attention, no matter how they are fed. Many mothers who breastfeed ultimately say that it is one of the easiest things they do.
We encourage you to watch your baby for feeding “cues” and feed when the baby requests. A baby will signal their mother when they are getting hungry by stretching, smacking their lips together, sticking out their tongue, rooting or bringing their hand or fist to their mouth; crying is actually the last sign of hunger. “Cluster” feeding is very normal in the newborn period. This is when a baby will nurse many times over a period of several hours. It often happens in the evening as though the baby is “tanking up” before going to sleep for a few hours.
We are here to help and support you throughout your breastfeeding journey. We want you to get off to a good start and our physicians, nurse practitioner, physicians assistant and lactation counselor are here to help you achieve your personal breastfeeding goals.
It is always best to check with your healthcare provider before taking any medications.