Every baby deserves a healthy start. Breastfeeding provides just the right nutrients to help a baby grow and offers many health benefits for both you and your baby. But it also can be challenging to manage breastfeeding in today's trying times. It's best to learn all you can about breastfeeding before giving birth to prepare for what's to come. We understand the decision of whether or not to breastfeed is a personal one. As a new or expecting mother, you deserve support, no matter how you decide to feed your baby. During World Breastfeeding Week, take this time to learn about the benefits and expectations of breastfeeding.
Benefits for the Baby
Breast milk is like the mega food for your baby, containing the best combination of ingredients for a robust immune system and overall growth and development. Breast milk provides your baby with all the nutrition he/she needs during the first six months of life. Also, no additional food or water is recommended too, so breastfeeding makes nursing your baby simple. Your breast milk provides abundant and easily absorbed nutritional components, antioxidants, enzymes, immune properties, and live antibodies. Plus, it also contains substances that naturally soothe infants. As time passes and your baby grows, your milk changes to meet the new nutritional requirements your baby needs. For instance, according to the American Pregnancy Association, your first milk is high in fat with less water, but at three months of age, your milk has less fat and more water. There is a solid connection between breastfeeding and a healthy immune system. As mentioned, you will pass your antibodies to your baby through your breast milk, giving your baby a head start to fight off infections. Research shows that the rates of ear infections, respiratory problems, asthma, and allergies are lower in breastfed babies. Breast milk also makes a protective coating inside your baby's stomach to keep germs from taking hold.
Benefits for Mom
Breastfeeding is a beautiful gift for you as well as your baby. Many mothers cherish the sense of fulfillment and joy they receive from the physical and emotional communion they experience while nursing their child. These feelings are amplified by the release of hormones, such as prolactin, that produce a peaceful, nurturing sensation that allows you to relax and focus on your child, as well as oxytocin that promotes a strong sense of love and attachment between the two of you. These feelings may be one of the reasons why so many women who have breastfed their first child choose to breastfeed their other children who follow. Mothers that breastfeed return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner and have lower rates of breast and uterine cancer. It helps your uterus return to normal and decreases blood loss after your baby is born. You may also experience a break from your period for as long as 12 months. Many medical organizations strongly recommend breastfeeding, including The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. From the first days and weeks of nursing to when your baby gets older, learn what to expect while breastfeeding.
COVID-19 and Breastfeeding
If you are breastfeeding and have symptoms of or confirmed COVID-19, take steps to avoid spreading the virus to your baby:
• Wash your hands before touching your baby
• Wear a cloth face covering, if possible, while feeding at the breast
• Wash your hands before touching pump or bottle parts and clean all parts after each use
An infant being breastfed by a mother who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 should be considered as having suspected COVID-19—when the infant's testing results are not available—for the duration of the mother's recommended period of home isolation and 14 days after that. The same approach should be taken concerning an infant with any other ongoing, close contact with another person who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Mothers should be counseled to inform their child's healthcare provider that their child has had high-risk contact with a person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
Every mother's experience with breastfeeding is different. Whether this is your first baby, or you are an experienced mom, each baby is unique. Breastfeeding is and will be a learning process. While your baby is learning how to latch, suck, and swallow, you learn how to position your baby correctly to feed, observe and follow hunger cues, and manage your breast milk supply and breast health. But know that breastfeeding provides a rare emotional experience for the mother and the baby. It is the one parenting behavior that only the mother can do, creating a unique and powerful physical and emotional connection. Your significant other, the baby's siblings, and other relatives can appreciate the new member of the family being welcomed in such a loving way.
Many of Community Care’s pediatric practices have nursing staff with extra training in breastfeeding support. This wonderful service is available for new mothers who may be having difficulty with nursing. Check out our full list of pediatric practices. Please note, not all of our practices have lactation nurses. For more information or to inquire, call your pediatrician’s office. Those who offer this service provide in-person support or telehealth support, especially during COVID-19.