Breastfeeding is normal and is healthy for infants. Breastmilk has hormones and disease-fighting cells called antibodies that help protect infants from germs and illness. This protection is unique and changes to meet your baby’s needs. Some reasons to breastfeed are:
- Breastfeeding offers essential nutrients and a nutritionally balanced meal
- Breastmilk is easy to digest
- Breastmilk fights disease
Immediate benefits for breastfed babies include:
- Increased resistance to infections
- Earlier development of the infant immune system
- Decreased risk of ear infections
- Decreased risk of diarrhea
- Decreased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Baby is less likely to be hospitalized due to serious illness
Long-term health benefits for breastfed babies include:
- Decreased risk of childhood obesity
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases with childhood onset, such as:
- Juvenile diabetes
- Some cancers
- Allergic disease/asthma
- Enhanced neurological development that may result in higher IQs and better eyesight
- Suckling at the breast promotes good jaw development and encourages the growth of straight, healthy teeth
Immediate benefits for a mother who breastfeeds include:
- Uterus returns to normal size more quickly and mother has reduced blood loss
- Exclusive breastfeeding delays the return of fertility in most women
- Reduced insulin needs in diabetic mothers
- Psychological benefits of increased self-confidence and enhanced bonding with infant
- Helps mother get needed rest by requiring that she sit or lie down with baby every few hours to feed
Long-term benefits for a mother who breastfeeds includes:
- Earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight, with no return of weight once weaning occurs
- Reduced risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture
- Family savings of several hundred dollars when the cost of breastfeeding is compared to the cost of using artificial formula
- Employers benefit because mothers of breastfed children have reduced absenteeism and take fewer sick days
- Reduced health care costs since breast fed babies usually require fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations
- Breastfeeding is convenient because breast milk is always available at the right temperature, and requires no mixing
What is a Baby Friendly Hospital?
Baby Friendly Hospitals are those which follow The 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, developed by a team of global experts, that research shows are most favorable to breastfeeding success. Ask if the hospital where you will be delivering is “Baby Friendly”. Go to http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/ for a list of baby friendly hospitals by state.
How can I find a breastfeeding friendly medical practice?
It is recommended that expectant parents begin interviewing pediatricians for their baby while they are pregnant. Bring this list of questions (and hints about the responses you should look to receive) to help you interview pediatricians.
If you are concerned about how breastfeeding is going, don’t wait. Call someone for help. Start with your pediatrician’s office. Your pediatrician should be able to assess how breastfeeding is going and offer you support. For some cases, you may be referred to a lactation consultant.
Oregon law requires employers to provide workplace support for breastfeeding mothers. When you return to work your employer must:
- Give you 30 minutes of unpaid time to pump breast milk for every 4 hours worked.
- Provide you with a private place to pump, other than a restroom.
Please be sure to: 1. Tell your employer ahead of time you need a place to pump when you return to work. 2. Take these breaks during your normal break or meal times when possible.
Seek out breastfeeding support groups in your area before your baby is born and consider attending one while pregnant and becoming familiar with the leaders. Talking with other women about their breastfeeding experiences may be helpful and give you a circle of friends to call for help after the baby is born.
Always interview your pediatrician. Let them know how you feel, the things you want to do, and where they can help you. If they aren’t the right one, don’t worry. There are many pediatricians. Here is a helpful list of questions to ask when interviewing a potential pediatrician.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.
If you and your baby are healthy after birth, it is best to breastfeed within the first hour after delivery. While in the hospital, keep the baby with you in your room so you can learn his hunger cues and respond promptly. Some newborns feed as often as every 1.5 hours, while others feed about every 3 hours. Breastfed newborns will feed 8-12 or more times per 24 hours (once your milk has come in). If your baby isn’t waking on his own during the first few weeks, wake him if 3-4 hours have passed since the last feeding. Talk to your pediatrician if your baby continues to have a hard time waking to eat.
- Wash your hands before expressing or handling your milk.
- Use only clean containers to store expressed milk. Use collection containers specific for the purpose of storing human milk. Don’t use ordinary plastic bags or formula bottle bags for storing milk.
- Freshly expressed milk can remain at room temperature for up to 4 hours.
- Use refrigerated milk within 48 hours.
- Freeze milk if you will not be using it within 24 hours. Frozen milk is good for at least 3 months (some experts suggest 3-6 months if kept in a 0 degrees F freezer).
- Store milk at the back of the freezer — never in the freezer door.
- Make sure to label the milk with the date you froze it and possibly your child’s name if you are bringing it to an out-of-home child care facility. Talk with your child care provider about how they require breast milk be stored and labeled.
Freeze 2-4 ounces of milk at a time, depending on the average amount of a single feeding for your baby. You may also want to freeze some small amounts for certain situations.
- Thaw milk in the refrigerator or you can thaw it by swirling in a bowl of warm water (do not shake!).
- Heating milk in microwave ovens or bottle warmers is not safe. Excess heat can destroy the important proteins and vitamins in the milk. If you will heat the milk in the storage container you might wish to avoid rigid plastic bottles with recycling # 7 in the triangle to avoid exposure to BPA, a potential hormone disrupter. For more information, visit the BPA Web site.
- Thawed milk must be used within 24 hours.
- Don’t refreeze your milk.
Breast milk alone is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months after birth. Original Source
If you want to try it, it is best to wait until your baby is at least 3 or 4 weeks old to introduce a pacifier. This allows your baby time to learn how to latch well on the breast and get enough milk. Once your baby is breastfeeding well, you should use the pacifier when putting your infant to bed to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Mothers who smoke are encouraged to quit, however, breast milk remains the ideal food for a baby even if the mother smokes. Although nicotine may be present in breast milk, adverse effects on the infant during breastfeeding have not been reported. AAP recognizes pregnancy and lactation as two ideal times to promote smoking cessation, but does not indicate that mothers who smoke should not breastfeed.
Yes. Breastfeeding is not a sure way to prevent pregnancy, even though it can delay the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles. Talk to your doctor or nurse about birth control choices that are okay to use while breastfeeding.
Most likely. Almost all medicines pass into your milk in small amounts. Some have no effect on the baby and can be used while breastfeeding. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medicines you are using and ask before you start using new medicines. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and dietary or herbal supplements.
For a guide on bottle feeding with formula download this pamphlet
You can find this and other information regarding bottle feeding here.
Download this guide to choosing the pump best for you.
The recommendations in this publication do not indicate an exclusive course of treatment or serve as a standard of medical care. Variations, taking into account individual circumstances, may be appropriate. This content is for informational purpose only.