Breast milk is the perfect nourishment for a growing baby. It protects the baby against illness such as ear infections and the flu, and lowers the risk for asthma, diabetes, obesity, and leukemia later in life. Breastfed infants are more likely to try a wide variety of foods when they start solid baby foods and, later, table food. Breastfeeding also gives you and your baby a special connection; the majority of mothers report that breastfeeding makes them feel closer to their baby. They notice their baby becomes calmer and more satiated when at the breast. Moms tend to find it very relaxing, too.
Besides the wonderful connection you establish with your baby, breastfeeding also encourages the uterus to contract back to its normal size and helps you to drop that baby weight. It happens almost effortlessly, because you’re producing milk, which uses up lots of calories. Breastfeeding can burn up to 600 calories daily. Just from breastfeeding alone you can lose a pound every week! Breastfeed- ing is also linked to lower maternal weight gain.
Breastfeeding is the best protection you can offer your little one against illness. Breast milk wards off problems more commonly found in formula-fed babies, and provides protection against allergies and gastrointestinal infections. Your milk is a good source of highly absorbable minerals, antioxidants, and other antibacterial substances that protect baby from bacterial or viral infection. Your milk is also a top-notch source of the essential fatty acids vital to proper neurological development, immune development, and growth. Not to mention that each time you breastfeed you are bonding a little more closely with your baby—getting that extra dose of oxytocin that will help you and your baby fall a little more in love. Your milk is literally a love potion.
Every baby is born with passive immunity. She is protected by your immune system throughout pregnancy and leaves the womb with a supply of maternal antibodies that will keep her healthy during the first few months of life. At around six months, your baby’s immune system will be able to produce its own antibodies—which is great timing, because her passively acquired antibodies will dissi- pate around then as well. This is one of the reasons why it is best to breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six months of life. The longer you breastfeed, the more antibodies she will obtain from you. Consider it an investment in baby’s good health.
Quick Tips for breastfeeding:
- Get started ASAP. The sooner you start breastfeeding your baby postpartum, the less likely you will experience latching challenges.
- Tease your baby. To get your baby to grasp the entire nipple and areola, you need her to open her mouth wide. You can do this by stimulating baby’s rooting reflex. Try teasing your baby’s lips with your nipple or finger; she should respond by opening up wide. You can also softly stroke your baby’s cheek—she should automatically turn her face toward you and open wide in anticipation of feeding.
- Position your baby correctly. Your baby’s gums should be positioned on the areola, not the nipple itself. The areola is the dark circular area surrounding the nipple. Most of the areola should be covered by the baby’s mouth. When properly latched, the baby initiates sucking, the milk ducts compress, and the milk is released. If your baby is instead latched on to the nipple itself, she is going to have a harder time drawing out the milk, which will frustrate her.
- Eat Right. While breastfeeding, you must make it a priority to look after yourself. Feeding and caring for your baby is awesome—and it’s tiring, too. It helps to have lots of healthy, nutrient-packed snacks around to provide you with energy. Fruit smoothies, green juice, energy bars, yogurt, nuts, porridges, soups, hummus and crackers, sandwiches, trail mix—all help to provide sustainable energy throughout the day.
- Get cozy. Make sure you have a comfortable and safe place to breastfeed your baby. Having the right props to help support you will reduce tension in shoulders and the mid-back from breastfeeding. Using Boppy to properly position your baby when it’s time to feed will allow you and your little bundle of joy time to breastfeed in total comfort and style.
Pictured above- Chef Elizabeth and her daughter. Check out her amazing work at The Breastfeeding Chef! http://www.breastfeedingchef.com