Human milk is
optimally designed to meet your baby's needs for growth and development.
Aside from the nutritional and digestive superiority of breastmilk
over infant formulas, it also contains immune substances, growth
factors, hormones and enzymes. Cellular components of breastmilk
appear to enhance baby's vision, digestion, and brain development.
Several nutrients, including zinc and iron, are more easily absorbed
from mother's milk than formulas. Breast-fed infants are less likely
to develop infections, such as colds, ear infections and diarrhea,
while they are young. Studies also indicate that other protections
may extend throughout their lives. Those who were breast-fed as
infants appear to have a lower risk of developing Type 1 diabetes,
food allergies, colon diseases, and are less likely to become obese.
And, last but not least, intimate contact during breastfeeding fosters
maternal-infant bonding. Emotional benefits of bonding early in
life last a lifetime.
breastfeed their babies may also gain health benefits. Breastfeeding
helps a woman's uterus shrink back to pre-pregnancy size and helps
mobilize fat that has been stored during pregnancy. A woman's risk
of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis later
in life is also thought to be lowered by breastfeeding. While not
a secure form of birth control, while a woman is exclusively breastfeeding
her infant, ovulation appears to be suppressed and future pregnancy
The best time to start learning about breastfeeding is before your
baby is born. Take advantage of classes that are offered by the
resource center where you receive your prenatal care. Ask your prenatal
care provider about breastfeeding. Take advantage of the special
knowledge that your labor and delivery nurses have. They can help
you get started breastfeeding in the hospital and provide you with
phone numbers for lactation
support should you need help once you get home.
important that lactating women get adequate rest and sleep, since
maternal fatigue is the most common cause of inadequate milk production.
Woman with other young children, a job outside the home, or who
have other demands on their time are at greatest risk of excessive
fatigue. Adequate rest during the first 6 weeks of lactation are
especially important, to ensure success with breastfeeding. Help
and support when needed should be secured.
exercise does not reduce milk production, but it can change its
flavor. This is because lactic acid, a bitter flavored byproduct
of muscle metabolism, can pass into milk. Some women report their
infants are more 'fussy' when they breastfeed following a strenuous
workout. Expressing a little milk prior to nursing the baby may
be helpful following intense exercise.
Tips for Lactating Moms
needs for lactation are similar to pregnancy needs except the need
for iron is much less. Lactating women usually don't menstruate
so their need for iron is even less than that of a non-pregnant
woman that is having regular menstrual cycles. The pregnancy diet
guide is a good place to start for helping with basic food selections.
Here are some additional tips:
breastfeeding woman needs to consume a minimum of 1800 calories
per day. If you are breastfeeding
twins or more, you may need a lot more calories. If you
are losing more than one to four pounds per month while breastfeeding,
you may not be eating enough. Overweight women, or women who
gained a lot of weight during pregnancy, may be able to lose
four to six pounds per month without compromising their breastmilk
production, but rapid weight loss should be monitored by their
||Protein needs are increased for breastfeeding moms. Be sure you are
including a healthy portion of protein with at least two meals
each day. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, tofu, and
many dairy products are good sources of protein.
||Calcium needs for lactation remain elevated as in pregnancy. Continue
to choose at least 3-4 calcium-rich foods daily. Teenage mothers
should consume 4-5 servings.
breastmilk requires water. Drink at least 8 - 10 cups of fluids
each day. Remember, your urine should be pale or colorless when
you are well hydrated. Drinking extra fluids will not increase
your milk supply.
caffeine and alcohol are passed through breastmilk and negatively
effect breast-fed infants. Cigarette smoking can reduce a mother's
milk production, and smoke is an environmental toxin effecting
infant lung development. All illicit drugs should be avoided,
as they are hazardous to both mother and infant. Prescription
and over-the-counter medications should be approved by your
physician and the baby's pediatrician.
There Any Reasons Not to Breastfeed?
For some women, breastfeeding is not be recommended as the best
or exclusive feeding mode for their baby. Certain diseases, like
HIV, may be transmitted to your infant by breastfeeding. Women who
take medications for any reason need to check with their prenatal
care provider or pediatrician to see if they can safely breastfeed
while taking their medication.
or more, or infants born with certain health conditions may
have special feeding needs that prohibit breastfeeding. In some
of these cases you might be able to express your breastmilk to feed
to your baby.