Breastfeeding basics: what new moms need to know

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  (WOTV)- August is national breast-feeding month and it’s a great time for moms-to-be to learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding.  I’ve breastfed both of my children and found it to be both rewarding and exhausting all at the same time.   Breastfeeding a huge commitment and every mom should be proud of herself for whatever commitment she makes to feeding her baby.

Benefits of breastfeeding

-Protects your baby from a variety of illnesses.  According to Babycenter.com,  “your breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby. Your body responds to pathogens (virus and bacteria) that are in your body and makes secretory IgA that’s specific to those pathogens, creating protection for your baby based on whatever you’re exposed to.”

-Studies show that babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop allergies.  Babycenter.com sites that, “Scientists think that immune factors such as secretory IgA (only available in breast milk) help prevent allergic reactions to food by providing a layer of protection to a baby’s intestinal tract.”

-Creates a strong bond with your baby.

-Breastfeeding may be related to higher I.Q. scores.  When studies tested kids who were breastfed vs. kids who were not, breastfed children tended to score higher.

Breastfeeding tips

Breast feeding may be natural but it certainly isn’t easy, especially at first.  Babies tend to eat every 2-3 hours, sometimes more (often referred to as cluster feedings).  Each feeding session often takes 15-30 minutes.  You may feel like your baby is constantly attached to you, sometimes because they are hungry and sometimes because they are seeking comfort that only you can provide.  Here’s some tips to help you along the way.

TIP 1: Don’t give up.  You will be tired and you will be sore.  You will think, “not again! We just finished.”  You can do it.  When you feel like throwing in the towel set small achievable goals for yourself.  For example, you’re feeling like you can’t manage another feeding tell yourself to push through until you get to one week.  Once you hit that goal you may be over the hurdle and can make it another week and another.

TIP 2: Use Lanolin every single time, even if you don’t need it.  You will get sore from the constant feedings.  Lanolin will help protect and heal your nipples in between feedings.

TIP 3: If your nipples crack or bleed it’s important to care for them right away.  Call your doctor for prescription nipple cream.  It’s safe for you and baby and is literally a miracle cure.  The sooner you make the call the sooner you can get back on track.   Also you will find if your nipple has been damaged by a poor latch you’ll want to feed baby exclusively on the other side and give yourself time to rest and heal.  Try pumping on the damaged side.  You’ll find it’s less painful until you heal.

TIP 4: When your milk comes in, pump like crazy to help establish a strong milk supply.  After baby finishes hook up your pump and see if you can get more milk and store it.   Establishing a strong milk supply early on is important because later when your baby “needs more” your body will be able to produce it.

TIP 5: Drink tons of water.  That’s right, in order to produce lots of milk you need to be really well hydrated.

TIP 6: Watch what you eat.  Many foods that you eat can upset your baby’s sensitive tummy.  Gassy foods like beans, broccoli, cauliflower ect. can really hurt your baby’s tummy causing gas pains and lots of tears.  Pay attention to what you eat and how your baby reacts.  Caffeine can also cause fussiness so be aware of what you take in and how it affects baby.   We always kept Infant Gas Drops on hand to help as well as Gripe Water.

TIP 7: Set yourself up for success by positioning your baby correctly using a specially designed breastfeeding pillow.  The My Breast Friend Pillow is what I recommend because it straps around your body to help keep your baby from sliding between you and the pillow.

TIP 8: Ask for help.  I was so proud of myself for venturing out of my comfort zone and attending a breast-feeding support group  only a few days postpartum.  I was in so much pain due to my son’s latch and they were able to work with me one on one and teach him and I how to get it right.  These groups are free and held a few times a week.