Breastfeeding Benefits and Tips
Breastfeeding has many benefits for your baby. Breast milk is rich in nutrients. It has antibodies, which help protect your baby against infections. It also helps prevent your baby from having allergies. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to become overweight, develop diabetes, or get childhood leukemia later in life.
Breastfeeding also has benefits for you. It’s clean and simple — you don’t have to wash bottles or mix formula. It’s cheaper than using formula. It helps your uterus contract back to normal size after having been stretched during pregnancy. It delays the return of your periods (although you shouldn’t count on it to prevent pregnancy). And it helps make time for you to be close to your baby. Women who breastfeed also have lower risks of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
What should I eat?
The best diet for a breastfeeding woman is well balanced and has plenty of calcium. This means you should eat fruits, vegetables, whole-grain cereals and breads, meats, beans and milk and dairy foods like cheese. You’ll need to get enough calories — about 500 more per day than usual — and you’ll need to drink more fluids.
A balanced diet that includes five servings of milk or dairy products each day will give you enough calcium. If you don’t eat meat or dairy products, you can get the calcium you need from broccoli, sesame seeds, tofu and kale. Talk to your doctor about taking extra calcium if you don’t think you’re getting enough from your diet.
What should I avoid eating?
If you think a food you’re eating bothers your baby, quit eating it. Caffeine and alcohol can get into your milk, so limit how much you drink. Medicines — even those you can buy without a prescription — can also get into your milk. Don’t take anything without talking to your doctor first. Also, if you smoke, nursing is another good reason to try to quit. Smoking can cause you to make less milk and the chemicals in cigarettes and smoke can get into your milk.
How can I increase my milk supply?
If you think your baby needs more milk, increase the number of feedings a day. It’s also important for you to get plenty of rest and eat right. Give your body time to catch up to your baby’s demands.
Don’t start giving your baby formula or cereal. If you give formula or cereal to your baby, he or she may not want as much breast milk. This will decrease your milk supply. Also, your baby doesn’t need any solid foods until he or she is 4 months to 6 months of age.
Can I still bond with my baby if I don’t breastfeed?
Although GRMC encourages all mothers who can, to breastfeed. Sometimes, babies just don’t breastfeed.
Whatever your reasons for not breastfeeding — health, intense discomfort, or unrelenting frustration — the first order of business is to give yourself a break. Chances are you’ve already exhausted all available options and resources and made the best decision for you and your baby. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to strengthen your connection with your child, but it isn’t the only way.
At feeding time, hold your infant close to you and make eye contact. You can even hold your child as if you were nursing. Hold your baby in a breastfeeding position and encourage skin-to-skin contact.
Remember that your relationship with your child won’t be based solely on your ability to nurse. How you respond when your baby cries, how often you hold and play with your baby, and how you are as a parent matters too.
GRMC’s Birthing Center holds Prepared Childbirth classes and Breastfeeding classes monthly. For more information, call 830.401.7530.