If you are pregnant or have recently given birth, one concern that is likely on your mind is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has significant benefits for your new infant. This guide will provide an overview to some of the main factors involved in breastfeeding.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is beneficial for infants because it provides the exact nutrition they need for proper growth and weight gain, including protein, fat, and vitamins. Breast milk is also easier for infants to digest than formula, and it contains important antibodies to ward off bacteria and viruses. In addition, breastfeeding decreases the risk of your child contracting allergies or asthma and encourages bonding due to the skin-to-skin contact and closeness.
Infants who only receive food through breastfeeding during the first six months of their life are less likely to have diarrhea, ear infections, and respiratory illnesses. They also typically require fewer doctor’s and hospital visits. Breastfeeding has also been linked to preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and may decrease your child’s risk for developing certain types of cancer, obesity, and diabetes.
Many women wonder if they will be able to produce enough milk to breastfeed. The body naturally responds to the feeding needs of the infant, meaning that you will produce more milk as your baby requires it. During the first few days after giving birth, you will produce colostrum, the “first milk” that is important for newborns because it provides for them nutritionally and helps their digestive tract prepare for breast milk.
One common problem for new mothers is getting the baby to “latch on.” First, use one hand to cup your breast and introduce your nipple to the baby’s lower lip. When the baby opens his or her mouth, bring the head forward and center the nipple over the tongue. You can tell that the baby has latched on when his or her lips have tightened around your nipple. The baby will then begin to nurse, which may cause a tugging or tingling feeling.
Pumping & Storing
Pumping and storing milk is important for many women. You can pump breast milk by hand or with a breast pump and safely store it in the refrigerator for up to three days or the freezer for up to three months. Never use a microwave to heat up your breast milk; instead, thaw it using warm water or in the refrigerator.