Benefits of Breast Feeding
Breastfeeding takes time and a little experience to feel comfortable. Once you’re comfortable, it can be extremely rewarding and a wonderful way to bond with your child, as well as provide health benefits to your growing baby.
How do you get started? Watch your baby for signs of hunger. Keep your baby in contact with your skin to wake up your baby’s instinct to breastfeed. You’ll be able to tell when it’s time to nurse when your baby gives you these signs:
- Rooting. Your baby turns his or her head toward you with mouth wide open.
- Sucking. Your baby sucks on his or her hands or puckers his or her lips.
- Moving hand to face. Your baby may search for his or her fist to suck.
- Eyelids flutter or body moving as your baby lightly sleeps.
- Sounds such as little grunts and whimpers.
How long do you let your baby nurse?
- Let your baby nurse until he or she is full.
- Let your baby finish the first breast.
- Burp and change the diaper to wake up your baby.
- Offer your second breast.
How will breastfeeding make you feel? You shouldn’t feel pain in your breast during breastfeeding. If you do feel pain, ask your nurse for help. You should hear your baby swallowing occasionally in the first few days after birth, and then after more milk comes in a few days after birth, hear more swallows and feel your breast soften when breastfeeding. Mild tenderness is normal and you may feel latch pain that will disappear as your baby starts to nurse regularly.
Breastfeeding benefits both you and your child.
Benefits for your baby:
- Your breast milk is rich in nutrients and antibodies, which can protect your baby. When it comes to nutrition, breast milk is the best option for your baby.
- Breastfeeding decreases your baby’s chance of getting a variety of infectious diseases, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, allergies, asthma, stomach upsets, diarrhea, and other issues.
- Babies that are breastfed are less likely to be obese during their childhood.
- Some studies suggest decreased rates of SIDS in the first year of life, childhood diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, and high cholesterol and heart disease in adulthood.
- Breastfeeding helps your baby bond with you.
Benefits for you:
- Decreased postpartum bleeding.
- Decreased risk of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.
- Protects against osteoporosis and hip fractures later in life.
- Some studies suggest a quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight.
- Breastfeeding is free, reducing financial burden and health care costs.
- Breastfeeding often means you’ll take less time off work due to a baby’s illness.
If you experience discomfort or have any questions
about breastfeeding, contact your doctor or a lactation consultant.