If you have decided to breastfeed your baby, accept our congratulations for making the right choice. Breastfeeding is the most natural way of feeding babies. Breastfeeding is very healthy for you and your baby. Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients to help your infant grow into a strong and healthy toddler. Some nutrients in breast milk help protect your infant against some common childhood diseases and infections. Breastfeeding gives your baby a healthy start that lasts a lifetime.
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Babies
Breastfeeding helps your baby grow healthy and strong from day one. It also gives you and your baby time to be close, get to know each other, and bond. Here are some of the many benefits of breastfeeding:
- Breast milk naturally has all the nutrients babies need to grow and develop.
- Breast milk has antibodies that can help prevent your baby from getting sick.
- Breastfeeding can help prevent health problems in your baby, such as allergies, eczema, ear infections, and stomach problems.
- Breastfed babies are less likely to be hospitalized with breathing infections.
- Breastfed babies are less likely to become obese or have diabetes.
- Breastfeeding may help prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Mothers who breastfeed find it easier to lose weight after pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding may help lower the risk for breast and ovarian cancers, diabetes, and certain other diseases in mothers.
Research studies show that breastfed babies have lower risks of:
- Leukemia (during childhood)
- Obesity (during childhood)
- Ear infections
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Lower respiratory infections
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in premature babies, or babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy)
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Type 2 diabetes
Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mothers
Breastfeeding helps a mother's health and healing following childbirth. Breastfeeding helps mothers save thousands of dollars on formula feeding. Breastfeeding leads to a lower risk of the following health problems in mothers:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
Get Off To A Great Start
As you have read and learnt all the benefits of breastfeeding, now get off to a great start by breastfeeding right after your baby is born. Experts recommend breastfeeding your baby for at least the first 12 months. Here is when and how to start breastfeeding your baby:
- Cuddle with your baby skin-to-skin right away after giving birth if you are both healthy.
- Breastfeed as soon as possible after giving birth.
- Breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry.
- Ask for a lactation consultant to help you.
- Ask the hospital staff not to give your baby pacifiers, sugar water, or formula, unless it is medically necessary.
- Let your baby stay in your hospital room all day and night so that you can breastfeed often.
- Try not to give your baby any pacifiers or artificial nipples until he or she is good at latching on to your breast (usually around 3 to 4 weeks old).
- Ask for help if breastfeeding is difficult
Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Breastfeeding is new for you and your baby, and it will take time and practice. You and your baby may need a little help and practice in the beginning. Keep in mind that most women are able to work through any problems they have with breastfeeding at first. After sometime, you and your baby will get accustomed to the routine and become comfortable.
Tips For Successful Breastfeeding
Learn Signs Of Your Baby’s Hunger: Babies let their mothers know when they are hungry by certain behavior and actions. All babies are different. Mothers have to observes and learn their baby’s hunger signals. As you and your baby get to know one another, you will be able to recognize your baby's unique hunger signals.
Signs that your baby is hungry include:
- Becoming more alert and active
- Putting hands or fists to the mouth
- Puckering of the lips
- Making sucking motions with the mouth
- Sticking out the tongue
- Turning the head to look for the breast
Crying can be a late sign of hunger, and it may be harder for the baby to latch if he or she is upset. Over time, you will be able to learn your baby's cues for when to start feeding.
Follow Your Baby's Lead: Some babies will take both breasts, one after the other, at each feeding. Other babies take only one breast at each feeding. Help your baby finish the first breast as long as he or she is still sucking and swallowing. Your baby will let go of your breast when he or she is finished. Offer your baby the other breast if he or she seems to want more. If your baby falls asleep while nursing and you are worried he or she did not get enough milk, try switching to the other breast or squeeze your breast to encourage more milk to flow and wake up your baby.
Skin-To-Skin Contact: Keep your baby close to you by skin-to-skin contact. This will soothe his or her crying and also will help keep your baby's heart and breathing rates stable. A soft carrier, such as a wrap, can help you "wear" your baby.
Avoid Nipple Confusion: Do not use pacifiers and bottles in the first few weeks after birth unless there is a medical reason. If you need to use supplements, work with a lactation consultant. She can show you ways to give supplements that help you and your baby continue breastfeeding. These include feeding your baby with a syringe, a tiny tube taped beside your nipple, or a small, flexible cup. Try to give your baby expressed or pumped milk first.
Have Your Baby Sleep In Your Bedroom: Having your baby sleep in a crib or bassinet in your bedroom lets you to breastfeed more easily at night. Research studies have found that when a baby shares a bedroom with his or her parents, the baby has a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Nutritional Needs Of Newborn Babies
Many moms worry that their babies won't be full enough to sleep through the night with only breast milk. Breast milk is the only food or liquid your baby needs for the first 6 months. In fact, giving babies things like rice cereal, baby food, or formula during the first 6 months can keep them from getting the nutrients they need from breast milk. Here are some basic guidelines to help you provide enough nutrition to your newborn baby.
Birth To 6 months:
- Feed your baby breast milk only (no formula, juice, cow's milk, solid foods, or water).
- Give your baby any vitamins, minerals, or medicine that your doctor recommends.
6 months to 12 months:
- Keep breastfeeding your baby.
- Introduce your baby to new foods.
12 months and up:
- Keep adding new foods to your baby's diet.
- Continue to breastfeed as long as it feels right for you and your baby.