Breast milk is the ideal human milk for babies. The first food or milk a mother makes is called colostrum. Colostrum is rich in the right amount of nutrients to nourish a newborn. Full of mothers antibodies, it jump starts the infant’s immune system and offers lifelong protection from many diseases. Babies who receive formula are more likely to suffer from ear infections, food allergies, respiratory and GI illnesses, Sudden Infant Death (SIDS), obesity and diabetes.
Mothers benefit as well. Mothers get back to pre-pregnancy weight faster, have less blood loss after delivery, have less problems with postpartum depression and are less likely to have premenopausal breast cancer and osteoporosis later in life. Families benefit when mothers and infants are healthier. Parents will miss less work days due to a sick child especially if a mother can breastfeed and continue to pump her milk at work. Parents will also spend less money on doctor visits.
The community benefits since moms and babies are healthier. We would save over $3 billion a year in health costs if every mother breastfed, if she could. Plus, breast milk is the original organic and green food!
What Do I Need to Know about Breastfeeding?
- Breast milk is called liquid gold for all its important health benefits.
- Breastfeeding is not an all or nothing proposition. Very few women make no breast milk. Define your own success. Any breast milk is wonderful and increases your baby’s health.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, with solids being introduced then and breastfeeding continuing through to one year old. Breastfeeding continues until the mother and child decide to stop, which could be through the toddler and preschool years.
- The Affordable Care Act mandated breast pump coverage. However, this is for a personal electric pump and does not usually cover rental grade (once called hospital grade) breast pumps. Check with your insurance company regarding your specific plan.
- Your workplace may be required by law to provide you with a comfortable and private place to express your milk for your breastfeeding infant. Learn more from the United States Department of Labor.
When Do I Need to See a Lactation Consultant?
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) can help anybody with any breastfeeding question. Before or after delivery, An IBCLC can provide support and offer evidenced-based information.
Sore nipples are not normal.
There is an old wives’ tale that says breastfeeding is supposed to hurt when a woman is learning to breastfeed. That is not so.
Breastfeeding is a learned and practiced art. Babies are born with an instinct and reflex to suck. However, the baby has to learn the mother and the mother, the baby. It is like learning to ride a bicycle. Training wheels at first and then someone holding on to the back of the seat before letting go. Think of an IBCLC as your training wheels and the person holding on to the back of the seat. Sometimes, a ride may wobble and fall. The same may apply to breastfeeding. Sometimes, mother and baby don’t have a good latch. The result is pain. Tug and pull is normal, “Ouch!” is not.
Are my nipples flat?
Babies do not need to have a mother’s nipple be erect or standing out to be able to breastfeed.
However, a flat or inverted nipple can present some challenges for a breastfeeding mother. Prenatally, an IBCLC can talk with a mother about her nipples and breastfeeding concerns.
Is my baby getting enough? Am I making enough milk?
An IBCLC can work with a breastfeeding family to help with breastfeeding success. An IBCLC will watch a breastfeeding session and look at the latch, check baby’s weight and talk about infant’s behaviors before making any recommendation. Remember, an IBCLC cannot diagnose or prescribe but can assess and make recommendations for the parents to discuss with baby’s doctor or pediatrician.
Can I breastfeed on medication?
An IBCLC has resources to research medications and breastfeeding. Most medications are compatible with breastfeeding. But if you or your doctor are unsure, consider calling an IBCLC to answer your question.
Where can I find breastfeeding help?
Sentara offers many breastfeeding support services. Before a mother delivers, she and a support person can take a prenatal breastfeeding class. The class reviews the benefits of breastfeeding and what to expect in the first few days after delivery. How to latch the baby, how to tell if the baby is getting enough and what to anticipate after going home is discussed.
In the hospital, the maternity staff is well educated in breastfeeding. After delivery, anticipate uninterrupted skin to skin time with your newborn. The nurse in your delivery room will assist with the baby’s first breastfeeding. Throughout your hospital stay, the nursing staff and the IBCLCs will continue to help with breastfeeding and answer any questions.