Breastfeeding your new baby can be an incredibly fulfilling experience that bonds you and your new baby. While it can be initially uncomfortable and does take time to master the technique, the benefits your baby receives from breastfeeding can be pivotal to his development.
Some of the benefits for the infant include:
· A source of nourishment that changes based on the baby’s stage of development so that the child’s needs are most fully met
· Improved jaw and tooth development from the act of nursing
· Improved hand/eye coordination from negotiating distance between mouth and breast
· Reduced risk of cavities
· Reduction in gas and fussiness because milk is easier to digest than formula
It is advisable to take a class on breastfeeding to prepare you for the common challenges that you may face. Do keep in mind that no amount of books, videos, or classes can prepare you for exactly what you will face. Classes can, however, provide you with the support you need from other women facing many of the same difficulties and challenges. St. Petersburg General Hospital offers breastfeeding classes for new moms. Check our online calendar for a time that suits your schedule.
Here are a few basics for breastfeeding to get your started:
· Put your infant to your breast and start him breastfeeding as soon as possible.
· Nurse often, every two to three hours during the day and no more than four at night, to encourage your milk to come in.
· Do not wait until your baby is crying or upset to nurse.
· Breastfeed not only for nourishment but also for comfort.
· Offer both breasts while nursing, with 10-15 minutes at each breast before switching and alternate sides during the next feeding.
· Do not be upset if your baby feeds frequently for hours and then can’t be roused for his next feeding. As long as he is eating enough, there is no reason for alarm.
While it is important to be conscious of your diet while breastfeeding, it is not as difficult as you might think to maintain a diet that will not affect your breast milk.
Don’t go overboard on dieting. Yes, you want to lose the baby weight, but aim for slow weight loss. Do not try to diet until at least two months after your have given birth.
Choose the good fats. Fatty foods can change the composition of your breast milk and be harmful to your baby.
Be careful to avoid contaminants. Drink filtered water, avoid foods that could be contaminated by pesticides, and choose lean meats, removing the skin before cooking.
Avoid alcoholic beverages. While a single glass likely won’t hurt you or your breast milk, it is a good rule of thumb to avoid alcohol altogether while breastfeeding.
Take your vitamins daily. Be sure to get the recommended dosage of calcium and vitamin D.
For more information about breastfeeding, contact us at St. Petersburg General Hospital. Our physicians and nurses specialize in women’s services. Each of our nurses is educated in lactation support, and we offer classes for new parents. Visit us online or call 727-341-4907 to register for a class.