Why Breastfeed

by Mary Gibbons, LM

  • Breast milk is the superior infant food, created just for them.
  • It contains all the nutrients that your baby needs.
  • There are no artificial ingredients.
  • It is easier for your baby to digest and assimilate.
  • It guards against obesity for your baby
  • It protects against many illness and allergies in the baby for their whole life
  • Breastfed infants are shown to have higher IQ tests
  • It is much cheaper
  • It is much more convenient. It never needs to be made, heated or stored.
  • It helps your uterus to contract and slows bleeding.
  • If you are exclusively breastfeeding it will be unlikely that you will be fertile before the baby is 6 months old.
  • It uses extra calories and helps you lose weight without dieting.
  • It protects you from developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, urinary tract infections and osteoporosis
  • And so much more!

How to be successful at breastfeeding

  • Nurse your baby often.  The more demand the more supply.
  • Avoid pacifiers, bottles, or confusing items such as nipple shields.
  • You can apply a nipple cream like Lansinoh or Vitamin E to your nipples.
  • Do not use soap or your nipples before or after birth. This strips the natural oils that the produce and causes dryness and irritation. Rinse them with plain water. You can also use breast milk on your nipple.
  • If you have flat nipples your baby may have trouble latching on. Pinch your nipple at the base and gently pinch to bring the nipple out. If your nipple does not come out, you may have flat or inverted nipples. Try to pull them out everyday. You can buy specials breast shields for this to help pull them out.
  • Try to achieve a natural birth so that the baby will not be drugged after delivery, and so that you will not be drugged or have discomfort from side affects of the drugs.
  • Make sure that you nurse the baby as soon as possible. If it all possible ask that the newborn statistics be put on hold until your baby has been nursed. Breastfeeding is firmly established if the baby nurses in the first hour after birth. Many babies will sleep deeply a few hours after birth, so if you haven’t established breastfeeding before this drowsy period it can be more difficult. Make sure that the hospital staff does not offer your baby bottles, pacifiers, or formula. The hormones secreted by nursing diminishes bleeding. Prolactin is the hormone that causes you to feel protective of your baby. Oxytocin and prolactin work to make milk
  • It is better for the baby to room in with you to help with breastfeeding and bonding, lessen the chance of baby being given bottles or medications that you are unaware of, and to lessen the chance of infections from other babies being passed to your baby. The father or someone else can always attend any tests or blood work that need to be performed on the baby.
  • Make sure that you are getting plenty of rest. For the first week you should only take care of yourself and the baby. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps.
  • If you must go back to work it is still possible to breastfeed your baby.
  • Some woman find it helpful to seek encouragement from other breastfeeding friends or joining a group of breastfeeding mothers.

The first time you nurse your baby

You should try to have skin to skin contact with your baby as soon as possible. If your baby is healthy you should not be separated. Try to nurse within the first hour. Use pillows under your arms if needed. You should try to be very comfortable and relaxed. Place the baby on you, facing you. You should be belly to belly with the baby. The babies head will rest in your arm. Place one arm under the breast, and one on top, like he is hugging your breast. You babies ear, shoulder and hip should be in a line, with no twisting in its neck. With your free hand cup your breast in a C position. Hold your nipple at the base of the areola with your thumb and forefinger. Pull the nipple out a little bit so the baby can latch on. Some babies need you to keep a hold on your nipple during the while feeding. Tickle the babies lips with your nipple to encourage the baby to open his mouth.. Wait for baby to open its mouth wide and then quickly put your nipple inside his mouth above his tongue. Pull his head toward you with your arm. Do not move your body toward the baby. It may take a few tries. Make sure that the baby has your whole nipple and most of your areola in its mouth. If your breast is large and it covers the babies nose, pull your babies bottom in towards your body more. If the babies nose and chin are not on your breast he is probably not latched on far enough. The first few times that you nurse the baby you should let him stay attached as long as he will. This helps the baby learn and establishes successful breastfeeding.

Do not pull the baby off of your nipple during nursing. First break the suction with your finger. Nurse your baby at least every 2 hours. Your milk will come in between 2-5 days. Some women find this to be very uncomfortable. Taking a warm shower before nursing, and some gentle breast massage should help with the discomfort. Try not to pump to relieve the engorgement, it will encourage your body to keep producing that amount of milk. If your nipple is too firm for the baby to latch onto, you can hand express a small amount of milk to make it soft again before feeding.

Bonding and Holding your baby

You baby has been held by you for the last nine months, being fed by you, being warmed by you, listening to your heart and to your voice. After the baby is born it is overwhelmed by the change in environment, temperate, lighting, and noise. The moments of birth can be very scary for a baby who is not given right to its months waiting arms. The best thing you can do is hold your baby. A quiet, restful time immediately after birth is critical for you and the baby. There is no immediate rush to find out baby’s measurements or clean the baby. there is no reason or for this practice except convenience. It is much more important to bond and breastfeed than to call everyone with the babies weight.

You can find this information and much more at Carol Denny’s website. She is an AZ Midwife.