Benefits of Breastfeeding
For the baby
- The colostrum (first milk) helps the baby’s digestive system function better.
- There are antibodies from the mother in the milk that help the baby fight off infections.
- The baby has a lower incidence of asthma, allergies and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
- The nutrients in breast milk is better than formulas for the baby and helps the baby’s mind grow better.
- Babies who breastfeed have less gas, colic and constipation.
For the mother
- You develop a very special bond between you and your baby.
- It is more convenient, always available at the correct temperature and cheaper.
- It burns calories and helps with losing your pregnancy weight that was gained.
- It makes your uterus contract back down to normal size faster and slows the bleeding following delivery.
- Breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
- Nursing every 1 1/2 to 3 hours is common during the first few weeks.
- How often to nurse will vary from baby to baby.
- Nurse as frequently as your baby requests, or when you feel the need to reduce the fullness of your breasts.
- Awaken your baby if it has been 3-4 hours since the last feeding.
- Frequent feeding will help you make more milk and prevent problems like sore nipples and engorgement of your breasts.
Baby’s Position At The Breast
- Whether you are lying down or sitting, be sure that the baby’s tummy is facing your tummy.
- Support your breast with four fingers underneath the breast and the thumb above.
- Stroke the baby’s lips and cheek closest to the breast gently with your finger or nipple.
- When the baby’s mouth is open wide enough, place all of your nipple and as much of the dark area around the nipple as possible into your baby’s mouth.
- The length of each feeding varies from baby to baby and from feeding to feeding.
- The baby must suck about three minutes for your milk to get to the baby. This is called “let down”. For this reason, allow the baby to end the feed on each breast.
- To break suction, put your finger into the baby’s mouth and gently pull down on his/her lip. This will help prevent sore nipples.
Reducing Breast Engorgement
- As your body prepares milk for your baby, you may experience signs of breast engorgement. When breasts are engorged, they feel warm, full and may be tender to the touch. You can reduce engorgement if you:
- Nurse frequently, every 2-3 hours.
- Place light ice packs (bags of frozen corn or peas work well) on your breasts after feeding. This reduces swelling.
- Apply moist hot packs to breast prior to each feeding. This increases circulation.
- Gently massage breast prior to and during the feeding.
- Make sure that both breasts are empty after the feeding.
- Use a breast pump to keep up with your nursing schedule if your baby is not taking in enough milk, you are returning to work to keep your nursing schedule or you feel you are getting engorged.
- Do not supplement water or juice in place of breastfeeding,
- Be sure the baby is latched on and positioned properly while breastfeeding.
- Prevent fatigue, stress and anemia.
- Wear a support bra.
- Eat a balanced diet with enough fluids.
If your engorgement lasts more than two days call your lactation consultant or doctor.
Is My Baby Getting Enough Milk?
Sometimes mothers worry about whether their babies are getting enough milk. You can be assured that your baby is getting enough milk if:
- The baby is actively sucking and swallowing.
- The baby nurses at least 8-12 times and 10 to 15 minutes on each breast per day.
- The baby is wetting 6-8 diapers in a 24 hour period.
- The baby is having at least 1-2 stools every day for the first few months. Breast milk is all the food your baby needs. It is not necessary for your baby to have water or formula, In fact, to help your breasts make more milk; it is best not to give your baby bottles during the early weeks.
- The stool should be soft and yellow.
Take Care of Yourself
Take care of your breasts by:
- Bathing or showering daily.
- Air-drying your breasts after feeding.
- Avoiding the use of soaps.
- Start feedings on your left breast at one feeding and on your right breast at the next feeding.
- Your milk will “come in” by 2-3 days after delivery. You may feel some discomfort from engorgement which makes your breasts very firm and often tender. Engorgement “peaks” out within 24 to 48 hours. In the meantime, apply warm moist towels to your breasts for 10-15 minutes before feeding. Gentle massage and expression of some milk will soften your breasts making it easier for your baby to latch on. Wear a good fitting nursing bra and air dry your nipples for 10-15 minutes after each feeding.
- Only use cotton bra pads.
- Only use pure lanolin on your breasts after nursing and wash it off before nursing.
- Take care of yourself by:
- Eating well-balanced meals and nutritious snacks.
- Drinking milk, fruit juice and water to satisfy your thirst (about 8 glasses/day).
- Getting plenty of rest.
- Increase calcium in your diet (1000 mg/day).
- Avoid foods that you notice affect the baby adversely.
Seek Medical Attention If:
- You have any questions or difficulty with breast-feeding.
- You need help.
- You have a hard, sore area in your breast, accompanied by a fever or redness.
- Your baby is too sleepy to eat well or is having trouble sleeping.
- Your baby is wetting less than 6 diapers per day, by 5 days of age.
- Your baby’s skin or white part of his or her eyes is more yellow than it was in the hospital.
- You feel depressed.
Document Released: 12/18/2008 Document Re-Released: 06/3/2006
ExitCare®Patient Information ©2009 ExitCare, LLC.