Breastfeeding, for able mothers, is a great option to boost the health of the baby and can also provide benefits and convenience for the mother. It can certainly be a learning curve for new mothers juggling the responsibilities of caring for a newborn, as well as learning how to breastfeed, but if you’re able to try breastfeeding as an option for your baby, read on to learn why it may be worth your while.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
In the days following delivery, new moms produce colostrum. This is a yellowish fluid, sometimes referred to as “premilk,” brimming with nutrients and antibodies that will arm your baby with a barrier of defense that may protect them against certain viruses and bacteria. Additionally, breastmilk is relatively high in protein and low in sugar, making it an easily digestible, nutrient-dense meal for your baby. For the mother, breastfeeding will help facilitate a bond due to skin-to-skin contact, which will also provide your newborn with a sense of reassurance. Research also suggests breastfeeding may reduce a mother’s risk of developing postpartum depression.
What is the minimum and maximum amount of time to breastfeed?
When asked about the minimum amount of time a mother should breastfeed, many experts say, as long as the mother can is a win. If that’s two days, that’s perfectly fine. The American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommends breastfeeding for approximately six months after the baby’s born. After six months, they recommend adding in the appropriate complementary foods along with breastfeeding for up to two years or longer.
What do first-time moms need to know about breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding can be difficult, especially in the beginning. It’s important to understand that it may not go smoothly at first and try not to put unrealistic expectations on yourself or your baby.
The process may take practice. The process of your baby latching on correctly to your breast to feed may not come naturally at first, practicing this step can help your baby latch on better in the future. There are also different positions to try to ensure the process is comfortable and efficient. Instead of breastfeeding in the traditional, upright sitting position, consider laid-back breastfeeding, a cradle hold, crossover hold, football hold or side-lying position.
How can you produce more milk for breastfeeding?
Ideally, your body will produce enough milk for your baby without intervention, but if you’re struggling to produce enough milk to feed your newborn there are a few different courses of action you can take. Nursing on demand is rooted in the “supply and demand” notion, which says you’ll produce more milk if your baby is consuming it. You may also try “power pumping” which involves pumping for about 10-20 minutes following a breastfeeding session, with similar logic as the nursing on demand theory.
It’s also important, as the mother, to ensure you’re eating and drinking enough to support your own nutrition, as well as the baby’s needs. If you continue to have trouble producing milk, try incorporating lactation cookies with brewer’s yeast, flax seeds and oats, or lactation supplements.
Breastfeeding can be difficult, and every mother’s journey is unique. If breastfeeding your newborn is a viable option, there are plenty of reasons to give it a try.