Breastfeeding, also referred to as nursing, has benefits for both you and your baby. It creates a special bond between you and your newborn, provides great natural nutrition, and protects your baby against many illnesses. Breast milk is nature's perfect baby food. It has just the right nutrients, in just the right amounts, to nourish your baby fully.
Breastfeeding is good for your baby for many reasons:
Breastfeeding also provides benefits for you:
While breastfeeding is a natural process, it may take some practice for both you and your baby. Your doctor and the nurses in the hospital will be able to help you get started. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to ask for help if you need it.
When you are ready to nurse, find a position that is comfortable for you and your baby. Cup your breast in your hand and stroke your baby's lower lip with your nipple. The baby will open his or her mouth wide like a yawn. Quickly center your nipple in the baby's mouth, making sure the baby's tongue is down. Pull the baby close to you to begin nursing.
After a few minutes, check your baby's technique. If your baby is not latched on well, start over. To break the suction, insert a clean finger between your breast and your baby's gums. When you hear a soft pop, pull your nipple out of the baby's mouth and begin the process again.
Let your baby set his or her own nursing schedule. You will know when your baby is ready to nurse because he or she will nuzzle against your breast, make sucking motions, or put their hands to their mouth. Follow the signals your baby gives you, rather than trying to set a nursing schedule. You may nurse very often (8-12 times in 24 hours) in the baby's first weeks of life.
Many newborns nurse for 10-15 minutes on each breast. When your baby empties one breast, offer the other. Don't worry if your baby doesn't continue to nurse. You don't have to nurse at both breasts in one feeding. At the next feeding, offer the other breast first.
When you are pregnant, your body stores extra nutrients and fat to prepare you for breastfeeding. Once your baby is born, you need more food and nutrients than normal to provide fuel for milk production. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
For the first few weeks of nursing, it is important to make sure that your baby is getting enough milk. Here are some signs that your baby is getting adequate milk during breastfeeding:
If you are worried that you baby is not getting enough milk, tell your baby's doctor right away.
When you first begin to breastfeed, you may experience some minor problems. Usually, these problems are easy to treat, but you should call your doctor if you experience:
To keep your breasts healthy and to increase the chances of breastfeeding success, try these tips: