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Choosing to Breastfeed – Know the Benefits

Posted Date: 1/28/2015
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SI Advance Take Care
January 2015

Choosing to Breastfeed – Know the Benefits


Making the decision to breastfeed is a personal matter. It's also one that's likely to draw strong opinions from friends and family. But you and your baby are unique, and the decision is yours.

Breast Milk Is the Best Milk
Nature designed human milk especially for human babies, and it has many advantages over formula. Your milk contains just the right balance of nutrients, contained in a form most easily used by the baby's immature body systems. Medical authorities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, strongly recommend breastfeeding. Carol Olsen RN, BSN, IBCLC is a lactation consultant at Richmond University Medical Center and offers guidance to expectant mothers, “I have counseled mothers for over thirty years, explaining the many reasons why breast milk is the best milk for babies. Breast milk provides the perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat – everything your baby needs to grow. And it's provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula.”

Benefits of Breastfeeding include:

Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria.

Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies.

The physical closeness, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact help your baby bond with you and feel secure.

Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight children.

The AAP says breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Ms. Olsen adds, “Babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. They also have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor.”

There are also many benefits to mothers. She continues, “Breastfeeding burns extra calories, so it can help you lose pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps your uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth.”

The first few days after birth, your breasts make the ideal "first milk" called colostrum. Although Colostrum is a thin liquid, it adequately meets your baby's nutritional needs as your ‘mature milk’ arrives. Colostrum helps a newborn's digestive tract develop and prepare itself for digestion.

“Motherhood can be extremely stressful for new moms. Not only are you healing from labor and often sleep deprived, but you are now solely responsible for a new life.  It is an overwhelming time, but trust in nature. Once you learn the proper techniques including guiding your baby to latch properly, breastfeeding will become easier.  Building your confidence is so important. Know that you can do this,” shares Ms. Olsen.

Only a few medications should not be taken while breastfeeding, and sometimes a safe substitute medication is available. Talk with your doctor or a lactation consultant to discuss breastfeeding and what is best for your baby and you.

Resources are available on Staten Island - Richmond University Medical Center’s Lactation Support Center offers consultation services and resources for new mothers having difficulties with breastfeeding. For more information, call 718-818-4375.

 

Carol Olsen is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Mrs. Olsen, a former neonatal intensive care unit nurse, works at Richmond University Medical Center as a Lactation Consultant.