All About Breastfeeding

An article that is about the benefits of breastfeeding. Information on various positions and other concerns a new mother may have.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful and important gift you can give your baby. Breast milk contains the nutrients that babies need to grow. There are other substances, like antibodies, that your baby will receive as well. Your milk is made-to-order for your baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months. The World Health Organization recommends it up to 2 years and beyond those ages as mother and baby desire.

Even though it seems that once your baby is born, all you have to do is place him on your breast and away we go. Sometimes it happens that easily. Most women need some help in getting started. In prior generations, the mother or family friend would step in to help. Today most hospitals and birthing centers have lactation consultants on staff that can assist you and is available for follow-up questions. While pregnant, buy a breastfeeding handbook from someone like La Leche League and read it. That will give you some good general information and be available as a support book for later questions.

The first few weeks can go much smoother if correct positioning takes place. Sore nipples and other issues are prevented when latching occurs correctly. Position yourself comfortably with back support and pillows for your arms. Hold your baby close to you with his body slightly turned so he does not have to turn his head to nurse. Support the breast so it is not on your baby's chin and encourage him to open his mouth. It does take practice so if it feels uncomfortable try again.

The four main positions for breastfeeding are the cradle position, the cross-cradle position, football position and side-lying position. The cradle and cross-cradle positions refer to holding your baby across your lap and using one or the other arm to support the head, neck and back. The football is just like holding a football except you are holding the baby. This position is excellent for women who had a Cesarean birth, as the baby is not lying on the incision area. The side-lying position is for when you are both tired. The baby is facing the mother with some pillows for extra support if needed.

The first milk that your breast produces is called colostrum. It is low in fat but very high in carbohydrates, protein and antibodies. There is not a lot produced but it is extremely concentrated and contains a laxative effect to help with first stools. Breastfeeding often in the first 24 hours allows the baby to get plenty of colostrum. In addition, it will help your body to start producing mature milk within 3-4 days.

If you have flat or inverted nipples, it is possible to breastfeed. There are plenty of techniques that are available. Many women with breast implants also can nurse their baby. Many medications that may be prescribed are normally safe for breastfeeding mothers. Tell the doctor that you are nursing so he can check to make sure the medication is safe or whether he needs to find another one.

There are many ways of discreetly breastfeeding in public so do not feel a bottle is necessary. There are nursing shirts or you can just wear an extra large shirt and lift up from the bottom. In 2000, revised growth charts were released that include breastfed babies in the samples. Breastfed babies typically have fewer ear infections and other illnesses and studies show an increase in IQ. Relax and enjoy this special time with your baby. No matter how long you nurse, it is a small amount of time compared to the rest of your life.

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