Newborn Parenting: Breastfeeding

If you have tried to breastfeed you have learned that it is not as easy as it looks.  However, once you learn the basics, you will have no problems getting your baby the nourishment he or she needs.  Of course, it can still take a little practice as well.

Preparing for Breastfeeding

If possible, you want to start learning about breastfeeding before your baby is even born.  Your OB/GYN can help you with getting literature and even classes to help you get more comfortable with this.  Most major hospitals also have lactation consultants that can be helpful.

Now, the physical aspects of breastfeeding will be taken care of by your body.  This includes things like keeping plenty of milk in supply for your baby.

To make breastfeeding a bit easier, there are also certain products that many women find helpful.

These include:

  • Nursing bras
  • Nursing pillows
  • A breast pump
  • Nursing camisoles and tops
  • Breast pads
  • Cold packs and ointments for sore nipples

How to Tell if Your Baby is Getting Enough

You are not able to measure breast milk like you are able to measure formula in a bottle.  Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to know if your baby is getting enough with each feeding.  If your baby is not getting enough, there is the risk for failure to thrive and dehydration.  These are serious, but relatively uncommon.  To know if your baby is getting enough breast milk, look for the following:

  • Your breasts have a softness to them, as opposed to a firmness, after you feed your baby.  This signals that milk was emptied from them
  • You should be seeing about six to eight wet diapers each day
  • Your baby appears to be satisfied and relaxed after each feeding
  • Your baby has about three stools every day for the first month
  • Your baby gains weight at a steady pace

Benefits of Breastfeeding

While formula feeding is not bad, breast milk will always be better for your baby.  Breast milk helps your baby’s immune system by supplying him or her with certain antibodies for up to six months.  This helps to get the immune system developed as well as protect against illnesses like colds and the flu.  Babies who are breast fed are also believed to be at a lower risk for developing allergies.

SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is something that can be difficult to prevent, but breast feeding is believed to lower the risk.  In fact, research shows that you can lower your baby’s risk of SIDS by 50 percent by breast feeding exclusively.

Mom can also benefit from breast feeding her baby.  Postpartum depression risk is lower in women who breast feed their babies.  This is due to the release of oxytocin when you are nursing your baby.  Oxytocin is a hormone that helps to promote relaxation and nurturing.  It is also believed that breast feeding can help to reduce your risk of certain cancers.  Such cancers include ovarian and breast cancer.

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