Breastfeeding is the number one recommended method of feeding a newborn baby. It is important, that when considering methods to feed your newborn, that you carefully weigh the benefits and risks of each, allowing yourself to make an informed and educated decision.
What is breastfeeding?
A woman’s breast are designed to produce milk for a newborn baby. During puberty the breasts begin to change and develop in preparation for becoming a mother and the need to nurse an infant. During pregnancy, the breasts change even more, preparing to act as the sole source of nutrition for the newborn baby. Once the baby is born, the baby is positioned at the breast and allowed to suck on the nipple, stimulating the milk within the breast to be released (also known as the let-down reflex) and the baby then drinks the milk.
Can everyone breastfeed?
Physiologically speaking, around 2% of women are unable to breastfeed their babies due to abnormal mammary tissue, breast development or severe medical issues such as cancer requiring radiation.
Is there anyone that shouldn’t breastfeed?
Women who have HIV or other infections that are possible to spread through breast milk should not breastfeed their babies in order to avoid passing the infection to their child. Some women who are taking certain medications should not breastfeed while taking these medications. If you’re unsure whether or not the medications you are taking are safe for breastfeeding there is an excellent book titled “Medications and Mother’s Milk” that gives information on many over-the-counter and prescription medications available on the market and how they may impact a nursing infant.
What are some of the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding may reduce a woman’s risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer, and diseases later in life. Breastfeeding also helps women lose their pregnancy weight more quickly and effectively. Breastfeeding also helps stimulate uterine contractions which help shrink the uterus back to its pre-pregnancy size.
Breastfeeding helps prevent illness in babies. Breast milk contains special cells known as antibodies that provide immunity and defense against illnesses. Because of these cells the baby receives from the mother, the baby is less likely to be sick, need medications or be hospitalized.
Breastfeeding greatly reduces the chances of the baby to develop certain medical conditions and diseases later in life, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Breastfeeding is inexpensive! Formula can costs thousands of dollars per year, while breastfeeding is free, convenient and healthy for the baby!
Breastfeeding helps reduce the chance of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and recent reports suggest that up to 90% of deaths in children under the age of two in America, may have been prevented had the child been breastfed.
What do I do if I want to breastfeed but am unsure how?
Breastfeeding may seem difficult, and might even be uncomfortable at first, however, with patience and practice, breastfeeding will become second nature. If you are struggling with breastfeeding and feel you may need help before or after delivery, you may consider consulting with a lactation consultant, breastfeeding counselor or other professional who may understand breastfeeding and be able to assist, such as a doula. You may also consider taking a breastfeeding class prior to when you expect to deliver your baby to help prepare yourself beforehand. There are also many books available in libraries as well as online resources, and support groups (such as La Leche League) that may be able to provide assistance and education.
“Breastfeeding Benefits.” Breastfeeding, Breast Feeding Products & Information Such as Inverted Nipple Cure, Medela BreastPump, Breast Pump. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.
“Breastfeeding: Is It Right For You? – Search Health Topics A-Z.” West Penn Allegheny Health System. Web. 26 Sept. 2010.
Huggins, Kathleen. The Nursing Mother’s Companion. Boston, MA: Harvard Common, 2005. Print.
Johnson, Robert V. Mayo Clinic Complete Book of Pregnancy & Baby’s First Year. New York: W. Morrow and, 1994. Print.Book