19 Sep Tips to Get the Optimal Benefits of Nursing Your Baby
From the moment your new baby enters the world, you have the unique opportunity as a mother to start nursing your child. Nursing is a personal way to continue to provide your child with the nutrients they need once they are outside the womb, and it comes with a number of benefits that cannot only help your child now but throughout their entire life as well.
Benefits for Mom and Baby
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that ALL infants be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months of life. But it’s easy to say and not always easy to do when as a society we aren’t supportive of our new mothers.
As a mother, you only have a limited window of when you can breastfeed, as nursing typically occurs in the first year of your child’s life. Nursing is a beautiful way to bond with your baby and to help them stay healthy during their first few weeks of life. This is because the antibodies found in breast milk actually protect against diarrhea, blood infections and countless infections in premature babies. Breastmilk can have long-lasting effects as evidence shows breastfed infants may be protected later in life against Type I and Type II diabetes. Over the long-term, children who are breastfed are also less likely to develop childhood obesity.
Nursing also provides some very unique benefits for mothers as well. Breastfeeding can actually help mothers burn calories so they can return to their pre-pregnancy weight. It can also decrease post-partum bleeding and decrease the risk of certain types of cancers including both breast and ovarian cancers. Research has also found that breastfeeding can increase child spacing as it can have some birth control effects. While breastfeeding shouldn’t be a primary method of birth control, most women won’t get their periods while nursing due to something known as lactational amenorrhea.
Tips to Make the Most out of Nursing
There are countless benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and babies. In order for everyone to get the most benefits out of nursing, consider these tips.
- Breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of an infant’s life if you are able to. Data from 2017 shows that only about 22% of women in the US breastfeed when their babies are 6 months of age. More women should be supporting each other with breastfeeding to raise these numbers so more babies can enjoy the benefits of breastmilk.
- Take breastfeeding classes. They are extremely helpful and can help new moms become more relaxed about breastfeeding. Don’t just Google how to breastfeed. Take advantage of these programs. They are offered online and at many local hospitals. These classes not only help moms feel more comfortable, but women who take these classes are more likely to breastfeed longer and less likely to need supplementation.
- Try to be patient. Breastfeeding can be difficult, especially at first. The first 2-3 weeks after having a baby are very difficult and breastfeeding can only make everything seem more challenging. The good news is, breastfeed gets much easier after these first few weeks as both mother and baby get into a routine and as you start to recover from your pregnancy.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having a baby is difficult and no matter how much you love your new child, it is hard to get used to your baby’s constant presence. Your child needs you physically and emotionally all of the time, and it can be overwhelming. You can’t do it all, so don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it’s just from a friendly face bringing over a casserole.
- Consider breastfeeding support groups. There are many women who struggle with breastfeeding. This why many local hospitals have these groups available for new breastfeeding moms once they are ready to get out of the house. Connecting with other women who are struggling with similar experiences can help any new mom during this time.
- Only in rare circumstances in the US is it not safe to breastfeed. These are usually in extreme circumstances or medical conditions, such as if you are HIV positive or if your baby has a rare metabolic disorder called Classic Galactosemia, you should not breastfeed.
Nursing is such an important component of you and your baby’s health during those first few formative months. The more you can do to take advantage of the limited time you have to nurse your child the better.
If you have questions about nursing or your newborn in general, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at https://continuumtx.com/contact.