All About Breast feeding
The experience of breast-feeding is special for so many reasons, including:
- The joyful closeness and bonding with your baby
- The specific nutrition only you can provide
- The cost savings
- The health benefits for you and your baby
The decision to breast-feed is a personal one. As a new mom, you deserve support no matter how you decide to feed your baby. You should not be made to feel guilty if you cannot or choose not to breast feed. Click-here to make your own baby food.
Why Breast-feeding is Important
Every woman's journey to motherhood is different, but one of the first decisions a new mom makes is how to feed her child.
When you choose to breast feed, you make an investment in your baby's future. Breast-feeding allows you to make the food that is perfect for your baby. Your milk gives your baby the healthy start that will last a lifetime.
Breast feeding also:
- Protects your baby
- Benefits your health
- May make your life easier
- Benefits society
What is colostrum and how does it help my baby?
Your breast milk helps your baby grow healthy and strong from day one.
- Your first milk is liquid gold. Called liquid gold for its deep yellow color, colostrum is the thick first milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth. This milk is very rich in nutrients and includes antibodies to protect your baby from infections.
Colostrum also helps your newborn infant's digestive system to grow and function. Your baby gets only a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, because the stomach of a newborn infant is tiny and can hold only a small amount. (Visit How to know your baby is getting enough milk to see just how small your newborn's tummy is!)
- Your milk changes as your baby grows. Colostrum changes into mature milk by the third to fifth day after birth. This mature milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby continue to grow. It looks thinner than colostrum, but it has the nutrients and antibodies your baby needs for healthy growth.
What health benefits does breast feeding give my baby?
The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. This protection is unique and changes to meet your baby's needs.
Research suggests that breast-fed babies have lower risks of:
- Childhood leukemia
- Childhood obesity
- Ear infections
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Lower respiratory infections
- Necrotizing (nek-roh-TEYE-zing) enterocolitis (en-TUR-oh-coh-lyt-iss), a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Type 2 diabetes
Does my breast feeding baby need more vitamin D?
Maybe. Vitamin D is needed to build strong bones. All infants and children should get at least 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D each day.
To meet this need, your child's doctor may recommend that you give your baby a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU each day. This should start in the first few days of life. You can buy vitamin D supplements for infants at a drugstore or grocery store.
Even though sunlight is a major source of vitamin D, it is hard to measure how much sunlight your baby gets and sun exposure can be harmful. Once your baby is weaned from breast milk, talk to your baby's doctor about whether your baby still needs vitamin D supplements. Some children do not get enough vitamin D from the food they eat.
What are the health benefits of breast-feeding for mothers?
Breast feeding helps a mother's health and healing following childbirth. Breast feeding leads to a lower risk of these health problems in mothers:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
How does breast-feeding compare to formula-feeding?
- Formula can be harder for your baby to digest. For most babies, especially premature babies, breast milk substitutes like formula are harder to digest than breast milk. Formula is made from cow's milk, and it often takes time for babies' stomachs to adjust to digesting it.
- Life can be easier for you when you breast-feed. Breast feeding may seem like it takes a little more effort than formula-feeding at first. But breast feeding can make your life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. When you breast-feed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. You do not have to buy, measure, and mix formula. And there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night! When you breast feed, you can satisfy your baby's hunger right away.
- Not breast feeding costs money. Formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year. Breast-fed babies may also be sick less often, which can help keep your baby's health costs lower.
- Breast-feeding keeps mother and baby close. Physical contact is important to newborns. It helps them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Mothers also benefit from this closeness. The skin-to-skin contact boosts your oxytocin (OKS-ee-TOH-suhn) levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps breast milk flow and can calm the mother.
Did you know?
In some situations, formula-feeding can save lives.
- Very rarely, babies are born unable to tolerate milk of any kind. These babies must have an infant formula that is hypo allergenic, dairy free, or lactose free. A wide selection of specialist baby formulas now on the market include soy formula, hydrolyzed formula, lactose-free formula, and hypo allergenic formula.
- Your baby may need formula if you have certain health conditions that won't allow you to breast feed and you do not have access to donor breast milk.
Talk to your doctor before feeding your baby anything besides your breast milk. To learn more, visit the Breast-feeding a baby with health problems section - https://womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-baby-with-health-problem.html. To learn more about donor milk banks, visit the "https://womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-and-special-situations.html" Breastfeeding and special situations section.
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