OB/GYN

Breastfeeding

Video: Mercedes Maxwell, R.N., I.B.C.L.C., shares information on breastfeeding and the services provided.

Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. You and your baby may need practice – and almost all moms need a little help, especially in the beginning. But it does get easier with time. We believe that breastfeeding is the best feeding, and experiencing this special time may be easier with some helpful information.

WHY IS BREAST MILK IMPORTANT?

  • Perfect food for your baby, with protective antibodies, which strengthen your baby’s immune system to better fight infections
  • Formula does not contain antibodies found in breast milk, and there are risks from the use of unsafe water and unsterilized equipment or the potential presence of bacteria in powdered formula
  • Recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, World Health Organization and UNICEF

In addition, it is recommended that mothers:

  • Begin breastfeeding within the first hour of life
  • Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months – that is, feed the infant only breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water
  • Continue to breastfeed for at least a year, while introducing additional foods (such as baby foods)

BENEFITS TO BABY

Breast milk, as shown through research, helps to reduce the risk of health problems and chronic diseases, such as allergies, ear infections, diabetes, hypertension, gastrointestinal infections and high cholesterol.

BENEFITS TO MOM

  • Helps form a strong bond between mother and baby
  • Helps uterus to return to pre-pregnancy size quicker
  • Burns calories and produces relaxing hormones
  • Reduces the risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer, ovarian and endometrial cancers and type II diabetes
  • Cost savings

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BREASTFEED?

  • Your baby needs to eat eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period
  • For the first several weeks of life you should offer the breast at least every three hours; and when needed, attempt to wake your baby to feed this often
  • Breastfeeding as often and as long as your baby wants tells your body to make the amount of milk your baby needs

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BREASTFEED?

  • The amount of milk you have for your baby in the first days after birth is just right for the size of the baby’s tummy
  • Your baby’s tummy is small—about the size of a marble— right after birth
  • You make just the right amount of colostrum your baby needs to grow
  • As your baby grows, gains weight and breastfeeds often, your breasts will increase milk production to meet your baby’s needs

HOW MANY WET AND DIRTY DIAPERS SHOULD YOUR BABY HAVE?

  • One wet diaper the first day, two the second, and by the end of the first week, your baby should have six to eight wet diapers every 24 hours
  • First bowel movements (meconium) are dark and quite sticky, but it will change over the first several days of life to soft, curd-like and yellowish in color

SIGNS OF A GOOD LATCH-ON

A good latch-on is the key to a good feeding. Regardless of the position in which you hold your baby, the latch-on remains the same. Look for the following signs when feeding:

  • The baby has a deep latch where the lips meet the breast
  • Both upper and lower lips are flanged (rolled out)
  • All or most of the areola is in the baby’s mouth with more of the bottom of the areola than the top
  • There may be some “latch-on” discomfort that subsides quickly, but for the most part you are comfortable during the feeding
  • There is movement in the baby’s temples with sucking and the jaw moves up and down
  • There is slight movement of your breast near the baby’s lips

SIGNS OF A GOOD FEEDING:

  • Hearing swallowing at least every third suck once the milk comes in and seeing milk in the baby’s mouth
  • Consistent sucking with only brief pauses
  • The breasts are softer after feedings
  • Appropriate output for age (one wet diaper on day one, two wet diapers on day two, three wet diapers on day three, six to eight wet diapers by the end of the first week, and several stools each day)
  • Feeling strong, deep “pulling,’’ sucking and no sharp pain or pinching
  • Leaking from the other breast or feeling of “letdown” reflex or noticing a change in the baby’s sucking rhythm from faster to slower
  • 15 to 20 minutes vigorous sucking on each breast or 20 to 30 minutes on one side for a newborn and five to 10 minutes for an older baby
  • Your baby nurses eight to 12 times per 24 hours
  • Your baby latches on easily with minimal attempts and stays latched on
  • Minimal weight loss during the first few days (less than 10 percent of birth weight) and return to birth weight by two weeks of age

CLASSES

We also offer breastfeeding classes, where parents can:

  • Learn the advantages of breastfeeding for mother, baby and family.
  • Learn techniques and guidelines for successful breastfeeding.
  • Become aware of common problems and solutions.
  • Learn practical information about working and breastfeeding.

Learn about our lactation consultation services.

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