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Smiling Baby

Breastfeeding Education

Start your breastfeeding journey informed and empowered!

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Why is breastfeeding important?

In the first year of life, breast milk is the best food for babies. It helps babies grow healthy and strong, as it supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions. As babies grow, they have healthy weights.

What are the benefits of breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is good for both infants and parents. Breastfeeding helps protect a baby from many illnesses. Infants who are breastfed have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, acute ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe lower respiratory disease. Parents who breastfeed their infants have a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

How does your body make milk?

While your baby is in your womb, your body provides your baby with all the nourishment it needs. During pregnancy, your body is preparing for your baby’s birth by getting ready to produce breast milk. At delivery, pregnancy hormones change suddenly and the breastfeeding hormones (prolactin and oxytocin) start working to provide breast milk.

When your baby sucks at your breast, the hormones are released, causing milk to flow. The more frequently you breastfeed your baby, the more your hormones will be released and the more milk you will make.

If you breastfeed exclusively without bottle feeding in between feedings, you will have more success in meeting your breastfeeding goals. When your baby feeds well and empties the breast well, especially within the first few weeks, your body will continue to make more milk to meet your breastfeeding goals.

What is in your milk?

Breast milk is filled with the vitamins and nutrients that your baby needs to grow healthy and strong. In the first few days after you give birth, colostrum is the first milk–it is yellow in color and rich in nutrition. Within 3-5 days, your milk will change color and will be produced in greater quantities. Your breast milk has antibodies from your immune system, which will help your baby fight infections.

What does “latching on” mean in reference to breastfeeding?

Latching on is the term used to describe the way your baby attaches to your breast to nurse. To succeed in breastfeeding, it is very important for your baby to latch on well to the breast. A good latch is needed for the breast milk to flow properly and for your baby to feed well.

Breast or nipple pain is a sign that the baby is not latched on well. You can avoid discomfort and pain by latching your baby properly to the breast. Good positioning and properly taking the baby off the breast can help ensure a better breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby.

Lactation consultants can help with any “latching on” issues you might be having with the way your baby attaches to your breast to nurse. They can show you how to bring the baby to the breast, ensure the baby’s mouth is wide open with flanged lips, and achieve an asymmetrical latch onto the areola.

What books would you recommend for breastfeeding?

Here is a list of great books on the subject of breastfeeding:

Recommended Reading List

  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, La Leche League

  • The Breastfeeding Class You Never Had, Ann Bennett, IBCLC, RLC

  • Breastfeeding Made Simple, Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

  • Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding, Ina May Gaskin

  • The Nursing Mother’s Companion, Kathleen Huggins

  • Latch, Robin Kaplan and Abby Theuring

  • The Breastfeeding Book, Dr. William and Martha Sears

  • Work. Pump. Repeat., Jessica Shortall

  • So That’s What They’re For, Janet Tamaro

  • Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, Sheila K. Kippley

  • Breastfeeding with Confidence, Sue Cox

And here is a book providing insightful, in-depth suggestions on how to be an ideal partner, and become a fully-prepared parent.

  • We’re Pregnant! The First Time Dad’s Pregnancy Handbook, Adrian Kulp

How long should you breastfeed your baby?

The World Health Organization recommends that women exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months of life to achieve optimal growth, development, and health. A review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter, infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding along with introducing appropriate complementary foods for 1 year or longer, as mutually desired by parent and infant.

What are the barriers to breastfeeding ?

  • Lack of Knowledge of Specific Benefits of Breastfeeding

  • Social Norms and Beliefs that Bottle Feeding is the Norm

  • Poor Family and Social Support

  • Embarrassment

  • Lactation Problems

  • Employment and Child Care

  • Barriers Related to Health Services

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