Breastfeeding 101: Basics, Benefits and Bumps in the Road
Education & Research A mother’s milk contains antibodies, requires no preparation and provides all the necessary nutrients newborns need.
With months of pregnancy to prepare for breastfeeding, many moms are caught off guard when they end up feeling overwhelmed, anxious and insecure. It is important to accept that all of these reactions are perfectly normal. Fear of the unknown can be an impairing force, therefore it’s essential to empower yourself with information and support.
Getting started: Breastfeed your baby in the first hour after birth. Providing a lot of skin-to-skin contact helps encourage baby to feed. Newborns nurse at least every two to three hours, but it does not hurt to nurse more often if baby wants to. To know your baby is getting enough, watch for 6 wet and 2 dirty diapers each day after day 5.
Storing extra milk: Store breastmilk for up to 6 months in your freezer. Label storage bags with the expression date and store flat for quicker thawing. If you pump more milk than your baby needs, consider donating to a non-profit milk bank. Milk banks pasteurize and dispense donor milk to premature infants in NICUs.
The miracle of human milk
Good for baby and for mom: Breastmilk provides infants with complete nutrition and protection through immunological properties. While breastfeeding, your body releases oxytocin, a hormone that contracts your uterus and releases milk. Breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day, which helps moms return to pre-pregnancy weight. In addition, studies show that breastfeeding can lower your risk of osteoporosis as well as forms of breast or ovarian cancers.
If things don’t go perfectly
Find help: Breastfeeding support from family, friends and professionals is important for new moms. Problems such as nipple soreness and production concerns can sidetrack breastfeeding. Sometimes all you need is support from another breastfeeding mother. For professional support, consult a lactation consultant. Connect with social media and stay informed with the latest breastfeeding news. Mother-to-mother support groups and blogs can offer solutions and encouragement.