Before I had my first baby, I decided I wanted to breastfeed. I did not know very much about how to do it or all the great benefits it would provide. Honestly, for me, it was not easy. After having three babies, I was inspired to become a Lactation Consultant. It is a true honor to help others in their breastfeeding journey.
The Benefits of Breastfeeding are Amazing!
Did you know…
Your breast milk is specially made for your specific baby. It enhances their immune system, digestive system and brain development. Breastfed babies have reduced risks of ear and respiratory infections, allergies, childhood cancers, obesity, diabetes and digestion problems. Benefits extend into adulthood.
Breastfeeding mothers tend to lose their pregnancy weight faster. They have reduced risks of breast and ovarian cancers, heart disease, Type II diabetes, postpartum hemorrhage and depression.
Breastfeeding also saves money with less spent on health care costs and formula. Working breastfeeding mothers tend to take fewer sick days because of their baby’s enhanced immune protection from breastmilk. Breastfeeding promotes trust and a special bond.
On top of all that, breastfeeding is convenient. Your breastmilk is readily available with no need to prepare, pack or wash bottles. Breastfeeding is also environmentally friendly producing no waste.
- Skin-to-skin or kangaroo care time is encouraged from the first few hours after birth and beyond. This special time helps babies begin to learn to breastfeed, stimulates a mother’s milk production and promotes bonding. For skin-to-skin time, hold your baby on your bare chest wearing only a diaper and a receiving blanket placed over baby’s back.
- Latching onto the breast correctly and comfortably is important and may take some practice.
- Position your baby so that your nipple is pointing to your baby’s nose.
- Slightly touch baby’s top lip with your nipple while leading baby so the chin lightly brushes on your breast.
- As your baby opens wide and reaches up and over your nipple, aim your nipple toward the roof of the mouth and bring your baby in closer for a deep latch.
- The baby’s mouth should be open-wide and cover most of the areola.
- The latch should be comfortable.
- When your baby is in a quiet alert state, you may have the best success.
- Breastfeed at least 8 or more times every 24 hours (usually every 1 to 3 hours from the start of the last feeding). Offering both breasts each feeding is encouraged. Alternate which breast you start on for the next feeding.
- Watch for your baby’s hunger cues and feed on demand. Hunger cues are: hands to mouth, smacking lips, sucking, tongue movements, rooting (turning head from side-to-side), stretching, clenched fists and crying.
- Watch for signs the baby is getting enough. You may notice the hunger cues disappear, the baby appears satisfied, releases the breast, falls asleep, may be drowsy, and the baby is peeing and pooping enough for the baby’s age. You may also hear or see the baby swallowing while breastfeeding.
- Learn and practice different feeding positions. Lean back, relax and be comfortable. Your baby’s ear, shoulder and hip should be in alignment for easier swallowing. Bring your baby to breast, not breast to baby, to help prevent sore neck and shoulders. Alternating positions can help empty different areas of the breast.
- If you need to release the latch, gently put your clean finger against your breast and slightly into the corner to the baby’s mouth.
- Avoid pacifiers and bottle nipples for the first few weeks until breastfeeding is well established. A baby uses different mouth and tongue motions for breastfeeding. Pacifier use can contribute to sore damaged nipples, latching problems, wasting energy on non-nutritive sucking and poor weight gain. Special circumstances may warrant pacifier or bottle use (like for some preterm or NICU babies).
- Breastmilk supply is stimulated by baby’s demand and frequent emptying. Milk production can be stimulated with skin-to-skin time, breast massage, hand expression and pumping (when needed).
All babies and families are unique. Our team at Good Samaritan Medical Center is here to help guide you in your feeding choice goals. We are truly lucky to have a wonderful staff at Good Samaritan Medical Center that is happy to support you on your journey to parenthood.
Babies have natural instincts to breastfeed but it is not always easy. Try to be patient and ask for help and guidance when needed. We are here for lactation support. Remember, this is a learning experience for both you and your baby. It brings much joy to know that we are helping families on their journey for healthy and happy babies.
About the Author: Kathleen Wegner, BSN RN IBCLC
Kathleen is a Registered Nurse (RN) and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She truly enjoys helping families by combining her expertise as a lactation consultant with her nursing specialty in mother and baby care. She is a member of the United States Lactation Consultant Association, the Florida Lactation Consultant Association and the Breastfeeding Coalition of Palm Beach County. She is grateful for the opportunity to work with all those she meets.