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Breastfeeding is so beneficial that The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue

for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.

One of the most important questions an expectant mother faces is whether she will breastfeed or bottle feed her newborn baby. Some mothers know they will return to work full-time shortly after their baby is born and therefore choose to bottle feed from the beginning. Some mothers give breastfeeding a try and feel it’s just not working for the two of them. Some mothers and babies have

a great experience breastfeed-

ing and continue doing so until

the child is well over a year old. There are countless circumstanc- es that factor into whether or not

a mother chooses to breastfed

and it is different for everyone. Most importantly, the decision to breastfeed is a personal one. As a new mom, you deserve support no matter how you decide to feed your baby. You should not be made to feel guilty if you cannot or choose not to breastfeed.

to feel guilty if you cannot or choose not to breastfeed. It is important that when

It is important that when making this choice, you are as informed

as possible. Many new mothers simply don’t know enough about breastfeeding, so they may decide against it based on misconceptions. All mothers should be aware of the many benefits breastfeeding offers both mom and baby.

Breastfeeding is so beneficial that The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire. The World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. (cdc website).

fact vs. fiction

Moms-to-be and new moms get a lot of baby advice. Although people usually mean well, not all of it is based on fact. Myths about breastfeeding are common. The fact is that breastfeeding is a healthy way to feed your baby. The decision to breastfeed is a personal one, and it should also be an informed one.

myth: everyone uses formula

More women breastfeed than you think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of women in the United States start out breastfeeding.

myth: formula has more vitamins than breastmilk

In fact, the opposite is true. Formula cannot match the nutrients and vitamins in breastmilk. More importantly, breastmilk has antibodies, which can only be passed from your body to your baby. This is what helps protect your baby from getting sick. Breastmilk is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization. Breastfeeding is a great choice to ensure your baby’s nutrition.

myth: breastfeeding makes your breasts sag

Actually, it’s pregnancy that stretches the ligaments of your breast tissue, whether you breastfeed or not. Age, genetics, and the number of pregnancies you’ve had also play a role.

myth: if your breasts are too small, you can’t breastfeed

Size and shape of breasts do not affect ability to breastfeed and have nothing to do with how much milk a woman actually makes. This includes women with large areolas (the area around the nipple), flat nipples, and even women who’ve had breast surgery. (Note: If you’ve had a massive breast reduction, milk ducts and glands might have been removed, which means you may make less milk.)

myth: if your breasts are too large or you’re plus size, you can’t breastfeed

Women of all sizes can successfully breastfeed. So if you’re a larger mom-tobe or new mom, you should not let the size of your breasts automatically rule it out. If you’re big breasted, it may take some extra patience or some assistance from an IB- CLC. Plus-size women are more likely to have C-sections, which means your milk might come in a few days later. Depending on the size of your breasts, you may need a little more practice to find a hold that works for you and your baby. But with the right help and support, you can do it!

myth: you won’t be able to make enough milk

Moms almost always make enough milk to feed their babies. A newborn’s stomach is only the size of a hazelnut. If you eat healthy, drink water, and nurse often, your milk supply should be plentiful.

myth: breastfeeding spoils a child

After spending nine months growing inside you, it’s completely natural for a baby to be attached to his or her mother and vice versa. Despite what you’ve heard, newborns don’t need to learn to fend for themselves at such a young age. In reality, breastfeeding provides a unique bond with your child that can last a lifetime. Research shows that breastfed children grow up to be confident and self-sufficient when parents meet their needs.

myth: breastfeeding hurts

Breastfeeding is not supposed to be a painful experience. In fact, pain is usually a red flag that something is wrong. Although a baby’s latch can be strong, it’s not actually biting, not even when the baby is cutting teeth. As with any new skill, there is an adjustment period.

benefits of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding protects your baby from a long list of illnesses Numerous studies from around the world have shown that stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear in- fections, and meningitis occur less often in breastfed babies and are less severe when they do happen. Exclusive breastfeeding (meaning no solid food, formula, or water) for at least six months seems to offer the most protec- tion.

Your breast milk is specifically tailored to your baby. Your body responds to virus and bacteria that are in your body and makes specific secretions in breast milk that create protection for your baby based on whatever you’re exposed to. Breastfeeding’s protection against illness lasts beyond your baby’s breastfeeding stage, too. Studies have shown that breastfeeding can reduce a child’s risk of developing certain childhood cancers. Breastfeeding may also help children avoid a host of diseases that strike later in life, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and inflammatory bowel disease. In fact, preemies given breast milk as babies are less likely to have high blood pressure by the time they’re teenagers.

Breastfeeding can protect your baby from developing allergies Babies who are fed a formula based on cow’s milk or soy tend to have more allergic reactions later on in life than breastfed babies. According to Baby Center, scientists think that immune factors such as secretory IgA (only available in breast milk) help prevent allergic reactions to food by providing a layer of protection to a baby’s intestinal tract. Without this protection, inflammation can develop and the wall of the intestine can become “leaky.” This allows undigested proteins to cross the gut where they can cause an allergic reaction and other health problems.

Breastfeeding may lower your baby’s risk of SIDS A large German study published in 2009 found that breastfeeding – either exclusively or partially – is associated with a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The researchers concluded that exclusive breastfeed- ing at 1 month of age cut the risk of SIDS in half. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends breastfeeding for as long as possible to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Breastfeeding can reduce your stress level and your risk of postpartum depression The National Institutes of Health reviewed more than 9,000 study abstracts and concluded that women who didn’t breastfeed or who stopped breastfeeding early on had a higher risk of postpartum depression. Many women report feeling relaxed while breastfeeding. That’s because nursing triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin. Numerous studies in animals and humans have found that oxytocin promotes nurturing and relax- ation. (Oxytocin released while nursing also helps your uterus contract after birth, resulting in less postpartum bleeding.)

One study found that women who had high amounts of oxytocin in their system (50 percent of breastfeeding moms as opposed to 8 percent of bottle-feeding moms) had lower blood pressure after being asked to talk about a stressful personal problem.

Breastfeeding may reduce your risk of cancer Numerous studies have found that the longer women breastfeed, the more they’re protected against breast and ovarian cancer. For breast cancer, nursing for at least a year appears to have the most protective effect. It’s not entirely clear how breastfeeding helps, but it may have to do with the structural changes in breast tissue caused by breastfeeding and the fact that lactation suppresses the amount of estrogen your body produces. Re- searchers think the effect on ovarian cancer may be related to estrogen suppression as well.

your body produces. Re- searchers think the effect on ovarian cancer may be related to estrogen

Breastfeeding allows mom better healing post-delivery The oxytocin released when your baby nurses helps your uterus contract, reducing post-delivery blood loss. Plus, breastfeeding will help your uterus return to its normal size more quickly—at about six weeks postpartum, com- pared with 10 weeks if you don’t breastfeed.

Breastfeeding is a calorie incinerator It can burn up to 500 calories a day.

a calorie incinerator It can burn up to 500 calories a day. tips & strategies Learn

tips & strategies

Learn as much as you can before baby arrives. It’s very helpful to take a prenatal breastfeeding class. In addition to learning some hands on techniques for positioning and nursing your newborn, you will receive valuable tips for avoiding or overcoming challenges during the early postpartum pe- riod. Your hospital or birth center most likely has a lactation consultant on staff whom you should take advantage of. Find out if she can visit you within the first 24 hours of birth. Getting expert advice early on can make a world of difference!

Be sure you get the right latch. Breastfeed your baby shortly after you deliver. Babies who are breastfed within the first hour postpartum generally have more successful breastfeeding experiences than those who aren’t. Many medical procedures can be done while the baby is on you and breastfeeding. Weight checks and baths can wait while this critical milestone is unhurriedly taking place. Breast- feeding is so much more than nutrition—it’s brain wiring!

Experiment with different breastfeeding positions Part of getting the right latch is experimenting with many different positions. Don’t stop until you find the one that is most comfortable for you and baby.

Schedule or feed on demand. Babies know when they are hungry and know how much they need; let them lead you. If you follow their cues they won’t be over or underfed. Instead, their nutrition intake will be just right. But start this after the first 1-2 weeks. Your breasts need frequent stimulation and regular emptying to signal milk production. For the first to weeks of life, in order to reduce weight loss, decrease baby’s bilirubin levels, increase your milk production and relieve engorgement, it’s suggested to wake your baby to feed at least every 3 hours during the day (and sooner if they like) and every 4-5 hours during the night. After your two week pediatrician appointment if baby’s weights have stabilized and your milk supply has regulated you can feel relaxed about following your baby’s cues for feeding.