Making the decision to breast-feed is a very personal matter, but you and your baby are unique and the decision is up to you. Here’s information you can use to get started with confidence.
Benefits for baby:
This is one of the most natural and beneficial acts a mother can do for her child, breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat, everything your infant needs to grow. Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Nursing reduces your baby’s risk of having asthma and allergies. Infants that are nursed tend to gain less unnecessary weight and tend to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula. The physical closeness, skin to skin touching, and the eye contact all help your baby bond and feel secure with you. The longer a mom and baby breast-feeds, the greater the benefits are for both mom and baby.
Here are the ABCs of breast-feeding:
A= Awareness. Watch for your baby’s signs of hunger, and breast-feed whenever your baby is hungry. This is called “on demand feeding.” In reality, with newborns during the first few weeks, you may be nursing 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. Hungry infants move their hands toward their mouth, make sucking noises or mouth movements, or move toward your breast. Don’t wait for your baby to cry. That is a sign of being frustrated after becoming too hungry.
B= Being patient. Feed as long as your baby wants to nurse each time. Don’t hurry your infant through feedings. Infants typically breast-feed for 10 to 20 minutes on each breast.
C= Comfort. Comfort is the key to successful nursing. It means you’ll relax while breast-feeding and your milk is more likely to let down and flow. Get yourself comfortable with pillows as needed to support your arms, head and neck, and a foot rest to support your feet and legs before you begin to breast-feed.
Benefits for mom:
Nursing provides health benefits for mothers beyond emotional satisfaction. Mothers who nurse their babies recover from childbirth more quickly and easily. The hormone oxytocin, released during feeding, acts to return the uterus to its regular size more quickly, which helps promote the cessation of postpartum bleeding, and weight loss. You can burn between 400 to 500 calories per day while breast-feeding. This is an important way for mom to develop a special emotional relationship and bonding with her child.
Since you don’t have to sterilize nipples, warm bottles and measure formula, breast-feeding saves you time and money. This is also good for the environment, since there are no bottles to wash or formula cans to throw away.
These are general informational ideas, if you have any specific questions; please consult with your health care provider.