Benefits of breastfeeding

Why breastfeeding is a good choice for baby:
  • Breast milk provides the right balance of nutrients to help an infant grow into a strong and healthy toddler.
  • Breast milk contains important fatty acids that help an infant's brain develop.
  • Some of the nutrients in breast milk also help protect an infant against some common childhood illnesses and infections.
  • By exclusive breastfeeding up to four to six months of age, the likelihood of allergies is lessened.
  • Breast-fed infants have fewer deaths during the first year and experience fewer illnesses than babies fed formula.

Why breastfeeding is a good choice for mom:
  • In response to the baby's sucking, the mother's body releases a hormone that makes her uterus contract.
  • An emotional bond is set because of the closeness of this interaction with the baby.
  • There is evolving evidence to indicate that certain types of cancer (such as breast, uterus, and ovarian cancer) occur less often in mothers who have breastfed their babies.

Tips and hints:
Even though breastfeeding is a natural process, it's not always easy. You may need more practice and patience than you might have imagined. Here are a few tips to help you get off to a good start.

1. Pay attention to your eating habits. Your lifestyle choices are just as important when you're breastfeeding as they were when you were pregnant.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains,
  • Drink lots of water,
  • Rest as much as possible,
  • Don't smoke,
  • Try to avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol. Too much caffeine can make your baby irritable and interfere with your baby's sleep. If you choose to have an occasional alcoholic drink, avoid breastfeeding for two hours afterward.

2. Ask for help. Reading about breastfeeding is one thing. Doing it on your own is something else. The maternity nurses will help you position the baby and make sure he or she is latching on correctly.

3. Feed frequently. For the first few weeks, most newborns breastfeed every two to three hours around-the-clock. Frequent breastfeeding sessions help stimulate your breasts to produce milk.

4. Let your baby set the pace. Let your baby nurse from the first breast thoroughly, until the breast feels soft — often about 15 minutes. Then burp the baby. Then offer the second breast. If your baby's still hungry, he or she will latch on. If your baby pauses during breastfeeding sessions to gaze at you or look around the room, enjoy the moment. Consider it an opportunity to slow down and bond with your baby.

5. Take care of your nipples. After each feeding, it is alright to let the milk dry naturally on your nipple. If you are in a hurry, gently pat your nipple dry. To keep your nipples dry between feedings, change bra pads often. If your nipples are dry or cracked, try an ointment containing lanolin. Rubbing olive oil or expressed milk on your nipples may also help.

You might also want to read this article on establishing good food habits for your children.