The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months and can be continued for as long as both mother and baby desire it.
What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom?
Breastfeeding is a wonderful gift for you as well as your baby. Many mothers feel fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional communion they experience with their child while nursing. These feelings are augmented by the release of hormones, such as:
- Prolactin: Produces a peaceful, nurturing sensation that allows you to relax and focus on your child.
- Oxytocin: Promotes a strong sense of love and attachment between the two of you.
What Are the Benefits of Breastfeeding for Your Baby?
Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein, and fat and everything your baby needs to grow. And it's all provided in a form more easily digested than infant formula. Breast milk also contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Breastfeeding lowers your baby's risk of having asthma or allergies. Infants who are breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea. Overall, breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores.
What's the Best Position for Breastfeeding?
The best position for you is the one where you and your baby are both comfortable and relaxed.
- Cradle position. Rest the side of your baby's head in the crook of your elbow with his whole body facing you. Position your baby's belly against your body so he feels fully supported.
- Football position. Line your baby's back along your forearm to hold your baby like a football, supporting his head and neck in your palm. This works best with newborns and small babies.
- Side-lying position. This position is great for night feedings in bed.
What Are the ABCs of Breastfeeding?
- A = Awareness. Watch for your baby's signs of hunger, and breastfeed whenever your baby is hungry. This is called "on demand" feeding. The first few weeks, you may be nursing eight to 12 times every 24 hours.
- B = Be patient. Breastfeed as long as your baby wants to nurse each time. Don't hurry your infant through feedings. Infants typically breastfeed for 10 to 20 minutes on each breast.
- C = Comfort. This is key. Relax while breastfeeding, and your milk is more likely to "let down" and flow.
Are There Medical Considerations With Breastfeeding?
In a few situations, breastfeeding could cause a baby harm. You should not breastfeed if:
- You are HIV positive. You can pass the HIV virus to your infant through breast milk.
- Your baby has a rare condition called galactosemia and cannot tolerate the natural sugar, called galactose, in breast milk.
- Warm room (80-90° F / 27-32° C)
- Room temperature (61-79°F / 16-26°C)
- Storage Time: 4-8 hours (ideally: 3-4 hours)
- Insulated cooler with ice packs - 24 hours
Refrigerated Milk (Store at back,away from door)
- Fresh Milk in Refrigerator (32-39°F / 0-4°C)
- Storage Time: 3-8 days (ideally: 72 hrs)
- Thawed Milk in Refrigerator (32-39°F / 0-4°C)
Frozen Milk (Do not refreeze thawed milk!)
***Remember to: store milk at back of fridge, away from door/sides)
- If your Freezer compartment is inside the refrigerator (older-style)
- Storage Time Varies - 2 weeks
- Self-contained freezer unit of a refrigerator/freezer - (＜39°F / ＜ 4°C)
- Separate deep freezer -(0°F / -18°C)
- Storage Time 12 months but ideally 6 months
To warm milk
- Heat water in a cup or other small container, then place frozen milk in the water to warm; or
- Use a bottle warmer.
- NEVER microwave human milk or heat it directly on the stove.
The cream will rise to the top of the milk during storage. Gently swirl milk (do not shake) to mix before checking temperature and offering to baby. If baby doesn't finish milk at one feeding, it is probably safe to refrigerate and offer within 1-2 hours before it is discarded.
*****Day Care settings have varying requirements for milk storage, labeling, and uses, though generally not more stringent than hospital guidelines.
Contact health care provider if:
- Mother develops a fever or her breasts are red and painful
- Mothers milk supply significantly decreases over usual volume
- Mother will be starting a new medication prescribed from another physician