Facts about breastfeeding
Why is breast best?
Congratulations on your decision to breastfeed. You are giving your baby the very best start in life. But breastfeeding is far more than just a way to feed your baby. It helps you bond with your baby, allowing you to understand what she needs much better, and building your confidence as a mother. To get the best benefits for you and baby, feed her only breast milk for at least 6 months.
|Breastmilk is healthliest for baby
- Breastmilk has EVERY vitamin, mineral and other nutritional element your baby needs. Formula can’t properly reproduce the vitamins in breastmilk, like iron, for the baby to properly absorb it.
- Breast milk is easier to digest than formula.
- Breastfed babies have less diarrhea, constipation, and colic than babies who are not breastfed.
- Breast milk contains antibodies to fight infections.
- Babies may have less risk of becoming obese, having diabetes, and developing other diseases.
- Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, allergies, and certain cancers.
- Breast milk contains special ingredients to promote brain growth.
- Breastfeeding lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and infant death from other causes.
- Breastfeeding is more than just food. It is the most effective way to settle baby when she is scared, tired, hungry or over-stimulated.
|Breastfeeding is healthiest for mother
- Breastfeeding helps mother’s uterus shrink and reduces bleeding and risk of post-partum hemorrhage.
- It may help the mother lose weight faster.
- It reduces her risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis
(brittle bones) later in life.
- It helps her fight the ‘baby blues’ and can prevent or limit the effects of post-partum depression.
|Breastfeeding saves money
- It saves on formula, bottles, utilities, and medical bills. The cost of formula alone for a year is €1,000+ in Kosovo. It is completely portable; you don’t need to find clean water, warm up the milk, or clean bottles!
- It reduces sick days used by working mothers.
- It’s good for the environment because there is less trash and plastic waste.
Adapted from United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). (2002).
Will breastfeeding ruin my body and boobs?
No, this is a myth and here’s why:
- Most women find that breastfeeding helps them lose weight faster and in their belly, hips and thighs. Most women lost 0.8kg per month during their first six months of breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding doesn’t make your breasts droopy, but pregnancy may cause them to change size and shape after having a baby. When pregnant, breasts increase in size and the ligaments that support them may stretch and it is this stretching that can result in slight sagginess. This will happen whether you breastfeed or not.
Can I breastfeed really?
Yes, almost everyone can:
- Breast size doesn’t matter; the size of your breasts or nipples has no relation to how much milk you produce and how well you can breastfeed.
- Your baby has a natural instinct to breastfeed.
- You almost certainly will have enough milk, as long as you stay hydrated (drink plenty of water) and nurse often. Your milk production is almost always a simple matter of supply and demand – the more your baby demands i.e. the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will produce. It is normal to worry as you can’t actually see how much milk your baby is taking. But we show you simple ways to be sure baby is getting enough.
- Yes, you might have problems with latch or supply, especially if you have a C-section. But there are lots of ways to make it work for you. Take a look at our Breastfeeding Guides and if you still need help, contact us.
- Breastfeeding may not be safe for your baby if you have certain medical conditions, take certain medicines or have other problems, like using drugs. Check with your doctor if you think you have a condition that may make breastfeeding unsafe for your baby.
When will my milk come in?
In the first few days you will produce a small amount of fluid called colostrum. This early milk is packed with important vitamins, minerals, proteins and immunities to help your newborn stay healthy. It might not seem like there is enough but don’t worry, you are producing the right amount and it is the only food your baby needs. Try to breastfeed within an hour of birth to get breastfeeding off to a great start. Between the third and fifth days after birth, you will start to feel fullness in your breasts, indicating your milk has come in. The first few weeks are the most important for breastfeeding as this is when milk supply is established. So tell your husband and family how important it is to have their support and encouragement especially during this time.
I had a C-section so can I still breastfeed?
Yes. Sometimes women who have had a C-section or difficult vaginal birth have trouble with their milk supply and/or finding a comfortable position. There are a few things to do to make breastfeeding more successful for you:
- Hold your baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible, for as long as possible (at least one hour at a time) and as often as possible.
- Try starting breastfeeding within one hour after birth.
- Keep your baby with you 24/7 even if you don’t feel like it.
- Try different positions to avoid your incision, including lying flat with the baby on their chest, side-lie or clutch hold while sitting upright. See here for some pictures; many women find the football hold and side-lying position comfortable.
- If it is hard to get your baby to latch onto your breast, don’t panic or get upset, but understand it is only temporary and that you and your baby can do it.
What should I eat?
Almost anything you like:
- Often, people might tell them they cannot eat spicy foods, or beans or cabbage. But the fact is that food is rarely problematic. A baby will often be gassy or fussy in the early weeks especially as it gets used to not being fed through the placenta (and also to living in the outside world) so don’t be quick to blame your breastmilk.
- But, if your baby is especially fussy every time you eat a certain food then try cutting it out. Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter) is often the most common cause of problems so they could try cutting dairy out for a few weeks to see if there is any improvement. Symptoms of problem might include diarrhea, rash, fussiness, gas, constant spitting up or vomiting, hard stools, bloody or mucousy stools, runny nose, cough, or congestion. In the rare instance that food is causing gassiness and fussiness, it's most likely a problem with dairy protein.
- Limit caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas) as it can make your baby irritable and unable to sleep. Try not drink alcohol or smoke, but regardless you should continue to breastfeed.
- Always check with your baby’s doctor before taking any kind of medication, even over-the-counter drugs.
- Continue to take a prenatal vitamin or multivitamin while breastfeeding.
What things do I need for breastfeeding?
Not much! Just a can-do attitude! Also a shirt that you can pull down or up to give your baby access to your breast helps. Special clothes and bras are not necessary, but don’t wear a bra with underwire as that can cause pain and problems. In the first few months you might need disposable breast pads to catch leaking milk when you are not nursing your baby.
How long should I continue to breastfeed?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, so if possible, do not give your baby water or formula during this time. Feeding the baby anything other than breast milk interferes with a mother’s ability
to produce enough milk. The WHO recommends breastfeeding baby until two years of age and beyond. But any amount of breastfeeding is good for your baby’s health and development. Even breastfeeding for a short time is good for your baby.
Do I need to stop breastfeeding when pregnant?
No, there is no medical reason for you to stop breastfeeding if you become pregnant. You can also continue to breastfeed if you are sick, take birth control or many other medications or require surgery; just check with your baby’s doctor first.
Can I breastfeed in public?
Yes. You should breastfeed your baby whenever he is hungry no matter where you are, even in public places like cafes, offices or parks. You are meeting your baby's needs and not doing anything indecent. You should be proud of your commitment! Plus, no bottles and formula means fewer supplies to pack! Some tips for breastfeeding in public include:
- Wear clothes that allow easy access to your breasts.
- Use a special blanket around your shoulders, but some babies do not like this.
- Try breastfeeding your baby in a sling.
- Practice at home to reveal yourself only as much as you feel comfortable.
- Breastfeed your baby before he becomes fussy so that you have time to get into a comfortable place or position to feed.
- When you get to your destination, scout out a place you can breastfeed.
Is breastfeeding good for babies with special needs?
Yes. Some babies are born premature (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or with birth defects or other medical conditions. Breastfeeding a baby with special needs like these can help her grow and protect her from illness. But you may need help to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby; we can help so contact your local Beba-ks Center (Women's Health Resource Center).
When do I start feeding my baby other foods?
Feed your baby only breastmilk for at least 6 months. This means no water, formula, other liquids or solid food — just breastmilk. Feeding the baby anything other than breast milk interferes with a mother’s ability
to produce enough milk. At about 6 months, your baby may be ready to start solid food, but breastmilk will still remain her most important source of nutrients during her first year of life. For a feeding guide, click here. Any amount of breastfeeding is good for your baby’s health and development. Even breastfeeding for a short time is good for your baby.
Category: Breastfeeding Basics