Podcast Transcript: Breastfeeding
Mother’s milk is the best food for babies. It is packed with the perfect mix of nutrients and proteins that can keep the baby healthy. Studies have shown that children who were breast-fed have lower risks of many illnesses, ranging from diabetes to ear infections to cancer. Breastfeeding helps you bond with your baby. It does not cost anything and the milk is always ready when your baby needs it. It also helps moms get back to their pre-pregnancy shape more quickly and lessens their risk of breast cancer and other diseases.
For most women, milk comes into the breasts around 2 to 4 days after birth. Breasts will make as much milk as needed. It may take a day or two until you and your baby become a team and you have the matching amount of milk to what your baby wants. You might think that babies are born knowing how to breastfeed, but they aren’t. They need to learn how to do this, so both mom and baby have to be patient.
Babies need to eat often, sometimes every 2 hours. This is very true during the first month of life. Frequent feedings will help prevent breast engorgement, which is when the breast tissue is very full of milk. It can happen if you need to feed your baby more often or if you have blocked milk ducts. When engorged, the breasts can swell, ache, and have mild to severe pain.
After a few days of breastfeeding, your nipples may become sore and cracked. The best way to make your nipples stronger and less painful is to start out by feeding your baby about 5 minutes on each side. Slowly work up to 15 minute feedings on each breast over the next few days. When the feedings are shorter, you will need to breastfeed more often – at least every 2-3 hours. Don’t wait 4 hours or your breasts will become too full of milk. When a nipple becomes sore, it is tempting to skip that breast during a feeding. You must use that breast in order to toughen up the nipple. If one nipple is sore, it is a good idea to let the baby feed on the less sore breast first because a hungry baby will suck harder when they start to feed. If both breasts are sore, start with the breast you used last. Avoid using soaps or creams on your nipples. Plain water is just fine and is not drying to the skin.
Doctors would like babies to be breastfed for at least the first 6 months of life. If this is not possible, consider giving breastfeeding a try even if for a short time. Any breast milk is better than none and you need to try to find a balance between what is best for both you and your baby. If you have problems, there are specially trained people who can support you and give you tips for breastfeeding. They are called lactation specialists and can often help. Many mothers say that they enjoyed breastfeeding much more than they ever imagined.
If breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you, that is OK – there is infant formula. Talk with your doctor about the best type of formula for your child. If you choose a powder formula that needs to be made with water, check on the safety of your water supply. Also, if you live in an older home, you might want to get your water checked for lead.
Although formula does not have all of the benefits of breast milk, lots of babies have been fed by formula and have done just fine.
Feeding time is a special time for you and your baby. Whether you breast or bottle feed, be sure to relax and enjoy those precious moments spent with your wonderful new family member.
All information in this podcast is provided to you as general, educational information only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the counsel of your physician or healthcare provider who is familiar with your own unique needs and circumstances.