Breastfeeding: Ideal for Infants
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As a mother, one of the best things that only you can do for your baby is to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is more than a lifestyle choice — it is an important health choice. Any amount of time that you can do it will help both you and your baby. While breastfeeding isn't the only option for feeding your baby, every mother has the potential to succeed and make it a wonderful experience.
Both babies and mothers gain many benefits from breastfeeding. Breast milk is easy to digest and contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. Research indicates that women who breastfeed may have lower rates of certain breast and ovarian cancers.
- Breast milk has disease-fighting cells called antibodies that help protect infants from germs, illness, and even SIDS. Infant formula cannot match the exact chemical makeup of human milk, especially the cells, hormones, and antibodies that fight disease.
- Breastfeeding is normal and healthy for infants and moms.
Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of these health problems:
- Ear infections
- Stomach viruses
- Respiratory infections
- Atopic dermatitis
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- Childhood leukemia
- Sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS
- Necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants
- Type 2 diabetes
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Postpartum depression (PPD)
- Breast milk is different from infant formula. Colostrum, the thick yellow first breast milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth, will give your baby the best start at life. It is known as "liquid gold." It is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby as he or she first enters the world. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold. A newborn stomach is only the size of a large marble at first!
- For most babies, breast milk is easier to digest than formula. It takes time for their stomachs to adjust to digesting the proteins in formula because they are made from cow's milk.
- Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
- When you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Unlike human milk straight from the breast, infant formula has a chance of being contaminated.
- Breastfeeding makes your life easier. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula. There are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!
- Breastfeeding can save you between $1,160 and $3,915 per year, depending on the brand of formula.
- A mother can satisfy her baby's hunger right away with breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby, helping them bond. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness and bonding with their infants.
Most breastfeeding concerns can be prevented. And if an issue arises, there are many ways to treat it right away by calling on a lactation consultant or other health care provider. Getting plenty of rest and fluids, reducing stress, and eating healthy foods will also help you feel better and be able to cope with any early challenges you might face after your baby is born. This list of concerns is for informational purposes only. Only a lactation consultant and/or your doctor can diagnose and treat you.
Common breastfeeding challenges:
For more information on the topics listed below (and more) click here.
- Sore Nipples
- Low milk supply
- Oversupply of milk
- Plugged ducts
- Breast infection (mastitis) F
- ungal infections
- Nursing strike
- Inverted, flat, or very large nipples
- Breastfeeding a baby with health problems
- Breastfeeding and special situations
- More information on common breastfeeding challenges
Finding Support and Information
Once you have started to breastfeed, keep trying! There are many people who can support you in your effort to give your baby the best start. Some may already have been helping you during your pregnancy and birth.
Who Can Help?
- Local Breastfeeing Help - In Cochise County we are privileged to have several breastfeeding educators Countywide. Their credentials include: CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) or CBE (Certified Breastfeeding Educator). For a local breastfeeding consultant please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 520-803-3912. The Cochise County Health Department, WIC or AMCH Programs can make an appointment for you to meet with a certified professional in the privacy and comfiort of your own home.
- Other Resources to Find Breastfeeding Educators –You can find a breastfeeding educator with the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program or mother-to-mother support group meetings from La Leche League. You can also contact the National Breastfeeding Helpline at 1-800-994-9662 and speak directly with breastfeeding peer counselors.
- International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) – Also called a "lactation consultant," this person is a credentialed breastfeeding professional with the highest level of knowledge and skill in breastfeeding support. IBCLCs are experienced in helping mothers to breastfeed comfortably by helping with positioning, latch, and a wide range of breastfeeding concerns. Many IBCLCs also are nurses, doctors, speech therapists, dieticians, or other kinds of health professionals. Ask your hospital or birthing center for the name of a lactation consultant who can help you. For more information, you can visit the "Find a Lactation Consultant" Directory.
- Doula (DOO-la) – A woman who is professionally trained and experienced in giving social support to birthing families during pregnancy, labor, and birth and at home during the first few days or weeks after birth. Doulas help women physically and emotionally, and those who are trained in breastfeeding can help you be more successful with breastfeeding after birth.
- Pediatrician – A medical doctor who focuses on treating babies, children and teens.
- OB/GYN or Obstetrician/Gynecologist – A medical doctor who focuses on treating women's reproductive health issues before, during and after pregnancy.
- Certified Nurse-Midwife – A health professional who provides care to women during pregnancy, labor and birth. Midwives can also provide breastfeeding advice.
Recent Reports On Breastfeeding
2008 Breastfeeding Report Card
Breastfeeding for Businesses
Surgeon General Report 2008
What To Expect
Centers for Disease Control
La Leche League