Benefits of Breastfeeding
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that breast milk is the optimal form of nutrition for infants. Breast milk is considered best for infants, because it has many short and long term benefits. Breast milk is easier for a baby to digest. It contains nutrients and antibodies that can't be duplicated by formula, which help protect infants against certain illnesses and diseases and keeps baby from getting sick as often. In addition, breastfeeding has many benefits for the mother.
How Long Should I Breastfeed?
For optimal benefits for mom and baby the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusively breastfeeding for about 6 months. Once solids are introduced the AAP recommends to continue breastfeeding up to one year and longer if mutually desired by mother and baby.
Is Breastfeeding for Everyone?
While breastfeeding is best for baby there are exceptions to the
rule. If the baby has galactosemia or if the mother has Human Immunodificiency
Virus (HIV) she should not breastfeed. The virus can be transferred to the baby
through breastmilk. The AAP also recommends that women who are using illicit
drugs or have active and untreated tuberculosis not breastfeed. If you've come
down with an illness, you should know that it's probably okay for you to
continue breastfeeding, because you will pass antibodies on to your baby to help
keep him from getting sick. Also, you should know that most medications are okay to take while breastfeeding, because the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of using formula. If you are breastfeeding you should always check with your doctor before using medication.
Is my Baby Getting Enough to Eat?
This is a common question for new breastfeeding mothers. When your baby is born, their tummy is only the size of a marble, and by day ten its stomach has grown to the size of a ping pong ball. This being said, your baby can't hold very much milk in one feeding in its first days of life. Gradually as their stomach grows they'll be able to eat more at one feeding. It's normal for baby to lose a little bit of weight in the first days of life and then to regain it. A good way to know if your baby is getting enough to eat is by monitoring how many wet diapers he has each day. This varies depending on how many days old your baby is. On the first day, your baby should have about one wet diaper and one bowel movement. There should be about 2 wet diapers and three bowel movements by day two, and by day three there should be about six wet diapers and three bowel movements. A typical newborn will eat 8-12 times per day. A baby is also getting enough to eat if he or she has adequate weight gain after the first week of life, which will be monitored by the baby's doctor.
How Can Dad Help?
Studies show that the dad's attitude about breastfeeding is the leading reason for mom choosing to breastfeed or not. One way a dad can support mom's decision to breastfeed is by attending a breastfeeding class with her. While breastfeeding promotes bonding between mom and baby, if mom pumps milk dad can help with feedings. Dad can help by changing the diaper and bonding with baby in other ways.
Pumping and Milk Storage
There are a few different ways to express breast milk: manually, by a manual pump, or by an electric pump. You will have to decide what is best for you. Each form of pumping comes with different levels of skill and cost. Depending on how often you will need to pump may help you decide on what your best option is.
Breast milk can be stored in BPA-free plastic bottles, clean glass, or breast milk bags, and you should label the containter with the date. It's best for freshly pumped breast milk to be stored at room temperature for up to four hours, for refrigerated breast milk to be stored up to 72 hours, and for frozen milk to be stored up to 6 months. While the given lengths of time or recommended as being best for milk storage, it is okay to store for longer. For information on how to properly store breast milk and for more on how long to store milk and on pumping visit womenshealth.gov.
At womenshealth.gov you will also find information on how to thaw and warm milk. Do not shake milk to mix because it can destory some of the milk's valuable components but gently swirl instead. Never warm milk in a microwave or boil. Instead you can thaw in the refrigerator or warm by placing under warm water. Once warmed it's recommended to use within 1-2 hours then discard. Do not place back in the refrigerator or refreeze. Frozen milk that is placed in the refrigerator to thaw should be used within 24 hours.
More Information & Resources
Answers to Breastfeeding Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Get answers to frequent questions like breastfeeding while sick or smoking and drinking alcohol, and taking medications, weaning your baby, is your baby getting enough Vitamin D, and more! Also get a list of resources.
Visit http://massbreastfeeding.org/faq/ for FAQs from diet, feeding in public, common breastfeeding problems, pumping at work, and more.
Read an on-line magazine, Women's Guide to Breastfeeding, for information on learning how to breastfeed, to get answers to common questions, to get tips for breastfeeding in public and on common challenges, and get a feeding chart.
Breastfeeding ABC's and Video
Learn more about the ABC's of breastfeeding and watch a video on how to properly latch baby to breast.
For information on breastfeeding, including common breastfeeding challenges, breastfeeding in public, going back to work, and more go to womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding.
Visit www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding for breastfeeding recommendations, FAQ's, resources, and data.
Visit http://www.bestforbabes.org/take-action for information on breastfeeding activisim and breaking news about the rights of mothers to breastfeed.
Breastfeeding Videos and Information
Go to http://www.flbreastfeeding.org/ for videos and information on breastfeeding, including support, benefits of breastfeeding, and Florida breastfeeding laws.
Read The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding 2011 to learn steps people can take to support mothers and babies who are breastfeeding. Also, learn about the importance breastfeeding has on health, psychosocial, economic, and environment factors, breastfeeding rates, and barriers to breastfeeding. You may also just read the Executive Summary.
For information on the benefits of employers supporting breastfeeding in the workplace and how to support breastfeeding at work read The Business Case for Breastfeeding: Steps for Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite.
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
To find an IBCLC go to http://www.ilca.org. An IBCLC is a certified professional that can provide information and support and answer questions and help deal with breastfeeding complications.
La Leche League International
Visit http://www.lllflorida.com/ for information on breastfeeding and for finding local support groups.
WIC is a federally funded nutrition program for Womin, Infants, and Children, and they offer breastfeeding support. For more information contact the Health Department at (407) 648-6853.
(800) LA-LECHE (525-3243) National La Leche League office
(800) 994-9662 National Women’s Health Information free telephone help