Are you thinking about breastfeeding? If so, below are some of the many benefits that breastfeeding can provide to both baby and mom.
Experts agree that breastfeeding is the best choice to feed your baby. The benefits of breastfeeding are not able to be replicated even with the best formula company in the world. So what exactly is so special about breastmilk? Well for one thing . . . breastmilk is an actual LIVING substance. It is full of antibodies from the mother’s body that protects the infant from viruses and other bacteria. Breastmilk changes as your baby grows. Formula is the same from day 1 of life till day 365. Breastmilk changes to meet the demands of your growing baby. Breastmilk is easier to digest than formula. Formula fed babies are at higher risk for:
- Ear Infections
- Necrotizing enterocolitis
- Lower respiratory infection
- Atopic dermatitis
- Type 1 and 2 diabetes
- Childhood leukemia
Breastfeeding also benefits the mother as well as the baby. It may seem to be lots of work at first but once you get the hang of it-it is A LOT easier than formula feeding. You do not have to “whip it out” in the middle of the mall but you can go in a dressing room and feed the baby when you are out. It takes just as long for a baby to nurse at the breast as it would take for a baby to finish a bottle. No need to buy, measure, or mix formula. Breastmilk is always ready when the baby is ready. Nighttime feedings are SO much easier! It makes the mother feel good because it releases the hormone oxytocin which is the “feel good” hormone. It is free! No bottles or formula to buy. Mothers who breastfeed also have lower risks of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Breast Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer
- Postpartum Depression
Mothers who breastfeed lose weight quicker than those who do not and they also miss less work because their babies are generally healthier than formula fed babies.
Ok . . . so with all these good things about breastfeeding-why do so many people not do it? Breastfeeding requires commitment. It is a commitment to learn and work through problems associated with breastfeeding. It is important to surround yourself with supportive people. You do not want to hear negative things about other people’s HORRIBLE nightmare stories about why they did not succeed. Every situation is unique. We cannot judge someone for deciding not to breastfeed or giving up if they did try. It is a personal decision. At Premier Pediatrics we want to support you in whatever decision you decide to do. . .
Most Frequently Asked Questions to the Lactation Consultant
When will my milk come in?
In pregnancy, breasts begin making colostrum. Colostrum is full of nutrients and immunity builders. A baby’s stomach is the size of a marble at birth. Their stomach only has the ability to hold 5-7 cc of milk. That is exactly what your breast make on day 1. Your baby’s stomach stretches as your milk supply increases. It is also the reason your baby will want to nurse so frequently. The more frequently your baby nurses, the quicker your mature milk will come in. With your first baby, post normal delivery it will usually come in at Day 3. After c-section, it will come in at Day 5.
Is it ok to just give one bottle when we are in the hospital?
The problem with giving a bottle (even just one) is the fact that baby’s stomach grows as mom’s milk supply grows. For example: Day one your breasts are making 5cc of colostrum. This is exactly how much her stomach can hold. If you give a bottle of one ounce of formula/water, her stomach will stretch to hold that volume. When she comes back to nurse, she only gets 5cc and mom wonders why baby does not seem content. It is best to just allow baby to nurse on demand
How will I know my baby is getting enough?
As long as baby is nursing 8-12 times in 24 hours, having wet and dirty diapers, and gaining weight; your baby is getting enough. Pumping is not an adequate way to determine how much breast milk your baby is getting out of your breast. The baby is always going to get more than the pump will. Baby will lose approximately 10% of birth weight initially but should gain back up to birth weight by day 10-14. The doctor’s office will closely monitor weight in the first couple weeks.
When should I start pumping?
This is entirely preference. Some moms prefer to begin pumping day one. Some will pump one side and nurse on the other, some will pump after breastfeeding, others do not like pumping and prefer not to. The breast will adapt to whatever method you prefer. In the first couple weeks it is best to let the baby be the pump and not worry with the extra step of pumping. At approximately one month, your body regulates to the baby’s demand and pumping can be initiated. If mom is returning to work around 6 weeks, many will decide to pump from day one to start a supply of milk. Just do whatever makes your life easier. Anything goes!
How do my breasts know how much milk and what if I need more?
The easiest way to explain how the breasts work is to think of it as a supply and demand. If the baby needs more milk, the baby will nurse “all the time” and keep the breast empty. Empty breasts signal the brain that more milk is needed. Same concept when you are told to pump after nursing to increase supply. Empty breasts make more milk. So if more milk is needed, it is important to allow the baby to nurse as frequently as possible and even pump if necessary to keep breasts empty.
What about overproduction?
Though this is quite possibly the “best” problem to have; it is still a problem. Overabundant supply can lead to engorgement, plugged ducts, and mastitis. If you are struggling with having an overabundant milk supply and are pumping after feedings or between feedings; stop pumping. Allow your supply to regulate to your baby’s needs.
Common Problems Regarding Breastfeeding
Too Much Milk?
- baby choking or pulling back to escape milk flow
- Leaking breasts that interfere with daily activities
- Engorgement lasting past initial “milk coming in” phase
- Use only one breast each feeding.
- Use the same breast for several feedings.
- Pump only for comfort, do not empty breasts. By leaving milk in the breast, the brain is signaled that more milk is not needed.
Too Little Milk?
- Breastfeed on demand-at least 8-16 times a day
- Drain each breast thoroughly at least once a day.
- Empty breast more often.
- No long periods without milk removal (don’t go past 5 hours without feeding)
- Begin feeding on affected side.
- Massage affected breast during feeding.
- Use firm massage.
- Soak affected breast by leaning over basin of warm water and massage. Change feeding position to ensure drainage of all ducts.
- Point infant’s nose toward site of plugged duct.
- Put warm compress over plugged duct 5 minutes before nursing.
- Same treatment as plugged ducts but also needs antibiotics. Call doctor.
Information provided by our lactation consultant, Kim Rivers, RN, CLE, IBCLC