Breastfeeding Benefits & Tips
Breast milk is the best food for your infant and will help him or her get a good start in life. Breastfeeding also has many benefits for the mother and baby.
Breastfeeding benefits for the child
Breastfeeding benefits your baby in several ways, including:
- Breast milk provides the perfect balance of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients that your baby needs to grow and develop.
- Breast milk is easy for your baby to digest and helps foster a healthy environment in the infant’s digestive track.
- Breast milk helps your baby develop tolerance against early food allergies, protein intolerance and other sensitivities.
- Breast milk helps build your baby’s immune system, providing natural protective antibodies.
Breastfeeding benefits for the mother
Breastfeeding has many benefits for the mother, including:
- Stimulates the production of a hormone called oxytocin, which causes the uterus to contract and shrink to pre-pregnancy size.
- Burns extra calories, which helps to lower fat stores and return your body to its pre-pregnancy weight more quickly.
- Snuggling your infant while breastfeeding provides an excellent opportunity for you and your baby to bond.
Breast milk has the amazing ability to change as your baby’s needs change. During the first four days of breastfeeding, you will produce a thick yellow fluid called colostrum. This has more protein and less fat than regular breast milk, and it provides important nutrition in those early days of life. After that, you will begin producing regular breast milk.
Latching on & feeding tips
While in the hospital, your nurse can help you position and attach your baby properly for breastfeeding. Successful position and attaching is important because it ensures your baby is getting enough milk and helps ensure a good milk supply. It also prevents mothers from getting sore nipples and helps baby relax and be more comfortable during breastfeeding. If you and your baby have problems obtaining a comfortable latch at the breast, be sure to ask for help.
Even though breastfeeding is natural, it may take a little time for both mom and baby to get into a rhythm. If you have any difficulties with breastfeeding when you get home, consult your medical provider or a lactation consultant.
Your baby can show you when he or she is hungry. Feed your baby when he is showing the early signs of hunger. He will smack his lips, bring his fist to his mouth, or open his mouth wide or turn his head looking for the breast.
Crying is a late sign of hunger. Feeding your baby anytime he shows you he is hungry is important because it will help you to establish a good milk supply, and help your baby to be more settled and content. During the first weeks of life, most babies will eat at least 8-12 times in 24 hours.
Breastfeeding resources for CU OB-GYN patients
New mothers can prepare and learn about breastfeeding techniques before their labor, as well as attend support groups after delivery to practice breastfeeding under the supervision of a lactation specialist. CU also offers exclusive private appointments with lactation consultants. A class schedule can be found on the University of Colorado Health classes and events page.
Beginning breastfeeding course
The beginning breastfeeding course at UCH introduces you to the basics to begin breastfeeding your newborn. You will learn techniques for feeding, indicators of a good milk supply and how to foresee and manage breastfeeding problems. You will also learn about pumping milk after returning to work. Both parents are encouraged to join the class. The cost to attend is $35 per couple. Register online at www.uchealth.org or call 720-848-1741.
Breastfeeding support group
The University of Colorado Hospital hosts free weekly breastfeeding support groups. The sessions are held every Wednesday from 1:30-2:45 p.m. at the Anschutz Outpatient Pavilion on the third floor. There will be signs on the first floor to direct you to the right room. Contact Karen Cloud, lactation consultant, at 720-848-1741 if you have questions about the support group. You do not need to register to attend the support group.