Breastfeeding can be one of the most enjoyable and special experiences for a new mother and the health benefits for both mother and baby are significant.
Your breast milk is perfect for your baby. It is custom designed to meet the specific needs of your baby at each stage of development. Before your baby is born, you begin to produce breast milk, called colostrum that is very high in protein and provides essential nutrients that are perfect for your baby when he/she arrives. Milk in this first stage also contains a large amount of antibodies that help to protect your baby against many respiratory and digestive infections.
Two to four days after your baby is born, you will begin to produce mature milk, which contains water, protein, vitamins and minerals, and the right amount of fat to help your baby feel satisfied and develop properly. As your baby nurses the milk gradually thickens until it resembles cream. This “hind milk" is higher in fat content. It is important to remember that your baby needs to nurse long enough to get the “hind milk” to ensure adequate weight gain. Breast milk is all the baby needs for the first six months of life. Breast milk constantly changes to meet the baby’s growing needs. Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand. The more your baby nurses, the more milk you will produce. To establish a good milk supply it is important to nurse frequently the first few weeks and to avoid supplements and bottles unless medically indicated.
When your baby is breastfeeding, he or she is in a familiar, comforting place, hearing the sounds of your voice, your breathing and your heartbeat. The closeness of the breastfeeding experience creates a very strong emotional bond between mother and baby, and helps the baby feel loved and comforted.
Breastfeeding Quick Tips
- Breast milk is perfect for your baby at the moment of birth. The composition of colostrum is just what your baby needs to get a healthy start in life.
- Breast milk will help protect your baby from acute and chronic illnesses (i.e. ear infections, stomach viruses, diarrhea, respiratory infections, asthma, obesity, type 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, and SIDS. There is also evidence that babies who breastfeed have higher IQ’s.)
- Mothers who breastfeed lose weight faster, and have lower risks for certain breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, postpartum depression and cardiovascular disease.
- Breast milk is constantly changing, hour by hour, day by day and week by week since the mother’s body is completely in tune with the needs of her baby. It is always just what your baby needs.
- Breast milk is always available at the right temperature and amount without any mixing, measuring or fuss.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, with the introduction of solid foods in addition to breast feeding at 6 months.
- Families who breastfeed can save from $380.00 to $1660.00 dollars a year by feeding their baby breast milk instead of formula.
Natural and Learned Technique
While breastfeeding is natural, it is a learned skill for a new mother and baby, which is why mothers often have questions about the process. Our dedicated Lactation Consultants are available to provide you with breastfeeding support, helpful information and recommended techniques to make breastfeeding easier for you and your baby before you deliver, while you are in the hospital and after discharge.
Riverview Hospital offers Breast feeding classes monthly, a breastfeeding support group weekly and outpatient consultations. For questions or appointments please call our Breastfeeding Support Line at 317-776-7202. To register for a class please call 317-776-7247.
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