For women who can and choose to breastfeed, Prenate® offers this basic guide to the benefits of breastfeeding and answers to basic breastfeeding questions.
Why should I consider breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is generally healthy for both infants and mothers. Breast milk contains anti-bodies that may help fight disease and protect babies from germs and illnesses. Studies have linked breastfeeding to a lower risk for babies of conditions like asthma, ear infections, stomach viruses, diabetes, and more. Breast milk can also be easier for some babies to digest.
For mothers, breastfeeding may lower the risk of postpartum depression, breast and ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes (1). Some women choose not to breastfeed and others can or should not breastfeed. Certain medications can pass through breast milk, and mothers with HIV or other diseases should not breastfeed. It’s important to ask your doctor which method is best for you and your baby and whether it is appropriate for you to breastfeed
How does breastfeeding work?
To watch a video on breastfeeding, click here. Breasts contain milk-producing glandular tissue called lobes that connect to the nipples via ducts. When you breastfeed your baby, she draws the nipple into the back of her mouth. The sucking motion forces milk into her mouth. If you’re interested in breastfeeding, most birthing centers can refer a lactation consultant to help you and your baby with latching, technique, supply and demand, the let-down reflex and more.
How will I know if my baby is hungry?
Each infant has her own cues for hunger that you’ll learn over time. The most common signs that it’s time to eat include your baby putting her hands in her mouth, making sucking motions, or turning her head to search for your breast. The rooting reflex refers to the innate reaction your baby has to turn toward something touching her cheek, to prepare to eat.
I’ve heard of different breastfeeding “holds. What are those and how do they work?
Different positions can help mothers be comfortable, support their babies, and find a good latch. What works best for you and baby can change from one feeding to the next, so be open to trying new holds until you’re comfortable.
Cradle Hold: This is one of the most common holds for breastfeeding. Hold the baby with his head on your arm and his whole body facing yours. Use the same arm of the breast you’re using.
Cross Cradle Hold: Cross cradle can help babies with a weak latch because of the extra head support. Hold your baby along the opposite arm of the breast you’re using, and support her head at the base of the neck.
Football Hold: This hold works well for mothers who have had a c-section or a strong let-down reflex. Babies who like to be more upright also prefer this hold. Hold the baby at your side lying on his back with his head supported at nipple-level. The baby is held almost under the arm, which accounts for the “football hold” name.
Side-Lying Position: Another good hold for mothers who had c-sections or for those who need extra rest. Lie on your side and pull your baby close to your body facing you.
Can I breastfeed in public?
Though many women report feeling uncomfortable breastfeeding in public, there are federal and state laws in place to protect you if you choose to feed your baby in public. For example, you may breastfeed your baby at any Federal property or building (2).
You can find out more about national and state breastfeeding laws here.
*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.