The experience of breastfeeding is special for so many reasons, including:
- The perfect nutrition only you can provide.
- The joyful bonding with your baby
- The cost savings
- The health benefits for both mother and baby.
- In fact, breast milk has disease-fighting antibodies that can help protect infants from several types of illnesses. And mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of some health problems, including breast cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Keep in mind that breastfeeding is a learned skill. It requires patience and practice. For some women, the learning stages can be frustrating and uncomfortable. And some situations make breast- feeding even harder, such as babies born early or health problems in the mother. The good news is that it will get easier, and support for breastfeeding mothers is growing.
You are special because you can make the food that is uniquely perfect for your baby. Invest the time in yourself and your baby, for your health and for the bond that will last a lifetime.
Before You give Birth
To prepare for breastfeeding, the most important thing you can do is have confidence in yourself. Committing to breastfeeding starts with the belief that you can do it!
Other steps you can take to prepare for breastfeeding:
1. avoid early delivery. Babies born too early often need special care, which can make breastfeeding harder.
2. Take a breastfeeding class. Get good prenatal care, which can help you.
3. Ask your health care provider to recommend a lactation consultant.
Learning to Breastfeed
Breastfeeding is a process that takes time to master. Babies and mothers need to practice. Keep in mind that you make milk in response to your baby sucking at the breast. The more milk your baby removes from the breasts, the more milk you will make.
After you have the baby, these steps can help you get off to a great start:
• Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth. Ask for an on-site lactation consultant to come help you.
Ask the staff not to give your baby other food or formula, unless it is medically necessary
•Allow your baby to stay in your hospital room all day and night so that you can breastfeed often. Or, ask the nurses to bring your baby to you for feedings. Try to avoid giving your baby any pacifers or artifcial nipples so that he or she gets used to latching onto just your breast.
How often should I breastfeed?
Early and often! Breastfeed as soon as possible after birth, then breastfeed at least 8 to 12 times every 24 hours to make plenty of milk for your baby. This means that in the first few days after birth, your baby will likely need to breastfeed about every hour or two in the daytime and a couple of times at night. Healthy babies develop their own feeding schedules. Follow your baby’s cues for when he or she is ready to eat.
How long should feedings be?
Feedings may be 15 to 20 minutes or longer per breast. But there is no set time. Your baby will let you know when he or she is fnished. If you are worried that your baby is not eating enough, talk to your baby’s doctor.