The Benefits of Breastfeeding
Author: Donita Rose, RN
The topic of breastfeeding can be a source of tremendous stress for new
mothers, and often their families as well. Debunking some of the most
common misconceptions about lactation and discovering the many benefits
of breastfeeding for both mom and baby will help keep everyone involved
happy and healthy throughout the process.
97% of women choose to breast feed because they are aware of
some of the benefits for baby, but what many do not know is that breastfeeding
can be incredibly beneficial for mom’s health too.
Good for Baby
Breastfeeding is known to be a precious source of bonding time for mom
and baby, and can also aid in healthy emotional and cognitive development.
Additionally, breastfeeding can help your baby combat future physical
ailments, reducing their chances of ear infections, avoiding the development
of certain allergies, and even decreasing the likelihood of obesity.
Good for Mom
There’s no doubt that breastfeeding is great for newborns, but new
mothers receive plenty of benefits themselves. Mothers who breastfeed
reduce their risks for ovarian cancer, and are generally known to have
lower blood pressure. Breastfeeding has also been shown to help new moms
get back to their pre-baby weight.
It can be incredibly frustrating to struggle with breastfeeding. Many new
mothers feel overwhelmed when their baby doesn’t take to it right
away. Having a
dedicated lactation consultant can help ensure that you are getting the right information, and that you’ll
have the guidance, instruction, and moral support you need while you figure
out you and your baby’s unique rhythm. Lactation consultants aren’t
just for new mothers. Most will focus on getting the family involved,
helping more caregivers understand what’s best for mom and baby,
and teaching them how to keep everyone happy, healthy and comfortable.
Overcoming the Obstacles
First-time mothers are often unsure as to whether or not it is safe to
breastfeed if they are on certain medications. It is always best to consult
with your primary care physician about these concerns before deciding
not to breastfeed, as
many medications don’t actually pose a threat to your baby.
Concerns about how and when to pump, or how often your baby should be feeding,
are the most common. Troubles with soreness around the nipple or issues
with latching are also typical. Both complications can usually be resolved
rather easily, either by finding a more comfortable position for the mother,
or by ensuring that your infant is positioned correctly, with their nose
in front of the nipple and their body facing mom.
Recognizing some of the signals a baby sends when they are hungry can be
difficult. While crying is certainly a sign of hunger, some new parents
are surprised to learn that it is usually the last one. Earlier indicators
from your baby might include them licking their lips, turning their heads
or sucking on their fingers.
Some new parents have been encouraged to bottle feed at night in order
to “let mom sleep,” but this is a major mistake. Newborns
aren’t supposed to sleep through the night at first. Trying to force
a feeding schedule can mess with a mother’s supply of breastmilk,
leading to soreness of the breasts and occasionally causing some
more serious infections. Scheduled feedings may also disrupt healthy eating patterns for newborns,
who should feed whenever they are hungry, no matter the hour.
Additional Support for Mothers, and Families
some hospitals are inconsistent in supporting healthy breastfeeding habits. Oftentimes new mothers are
misinformed, or they are simply not encouraged to start breastfeeding
right away. They may also be provided with items like pacifiers, which
can discourage healthy latching habits or make it harder to recognize
when your baby is hungry.
As a designated baby-friendly hospital, Washington Hospital is dedicated
to providing the highest quality of maternity care for patients. Our lactation
consultants, doctors, nurses and every member of our maternity staff is
highly trained to follow detailed protocols in order to promote healthy
breastfeeding, safe sleep habits, and excellent maternity care. Lactation
consultants are available 24/7, ensuring that new mothers and their families
are never without expertise or support.
To learn more about how a dedicated lactation consultant could help you,
510-818-5040. To find additional resources for pre-birth planning, visit our Washington
Hospital website to take a look at our
WHHS Pregnancy Library.
Posted September, 2019