Why is breastfeeding important?
- It supplies appropriate nutrients in the right proportions for your baby’s body
- It has antibodies to help protect your baby from infections, such as the common ear infection
- It is easily digestible, so babies are less constipated and gassy. It is also the right temperature, so there is no risk of burning the baby’s mouth with an overheated formula
- Babies have healthier weights as they grow if they have breast milk versus baby formulas
- Breast milk can also help with health down the road by decreasing risk of being overweight, developing type 1 and 2 diabetes, , asthma, high cholesterol, leukemia, and lymphoma
- Studies have also shown that breastfed babies have higher cognitive function and are smarter
Breast feeding can even help moms too!
- Studies have shown that breastfeeding moms have decreased risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and ovarian cancer
- It can help you return to their previous weight before pregnancy
Studies also show that the milk changes in volume and components to meet the baby’s needs. These changes are caused by the time of day, how often the mother nurses, and the age of the baby. Each mother’s breast milk is different, and that makes it more tailored to each baby, which is an advantage over formulas.
Guidelines for Feeding Breast Milk
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk as the best nutrition for infants. They recommend feeding breast milk exclusively for the first 6 months, then introducing other foods while continuing breast feeding until one year. After that, it is up to the mother and baby to decide if they want to continue breast feeding.
They recommend mothers feed their infants soon after birth and frequently (8 to 12 times in 24 hours)
Tips for Breastfeeding in Public
- Wear loose clothing for easy access to your breasts
- Use a special breastfeeding blanket that goes around your shoulders
- Try a sling to support your baby while feeding
- If in a restaurant, face the wall or sit in a booth
- If near a mall, slip into the women’s lounge or a dressing room to breastfeed
If people criticize your practice, you can:
- Ignore the comment or change the subject
- Show understanding of their viewpoint but not respond to their criticism
- Share information about breastfeeding to increase awareness
Tips for Working Mothers
For those who cannot be with their infant to breastfeed for each meal, breast pumps have become more popular to store the milk for later. Mothers can express the milk using their hands, a manual pump, or an electric pump. Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance must cover the cost of a breast pump. The website below for women’s health gives a great outline on how to pump, store, and thaw breast milk:
Drexel University College of Medicine