10 things you should know about breastfeeding
So many questions arise when planning for the arrival of a baby. What kind of birth plan do I want? What changes do I need to make in my daily routine? The list is endless.
One of the biggest questions that comes to many mothers’ minds is whether to breastfeed or formula feed. But how do you know if breastfeeding is right for you?
Susan Freund, an Advocate Nurse and international board certified lactation consultant at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., shares ten things you should know about breastfeeding when making your decision.
- Is breastfeeding healthier than formula feeding for babies?
Breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, containing more than 200 nutrients. In general, breastfed babies are healthier than formula-fed babies. Here are some of the most common benefits to breastfeeding:
- Fewer ear infections
- Less gas, constipation and diarrhea
- Lower risk of developing pneumonia, asthma, allergies, childhood obesity and diabetes
- Lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Better performance on IQ tests
- What are the benefits of breastfeeding for moms?
Breastfeeding is a great way for moms to bond with a new baby and allows them more time to sit and snuggle. Moms who breastfeed have less risk for bleeding after childbirth, developing metabolic syndrome, breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, and heart disease, and can lose their baby weight sooner.
- What happens to the breast when breastfeeding?
Breasts fill with milk and are emptied by the baby nursing. Most moms should make enough milk for their infant if they are exclusively breastfeeding. Breastfeeding within the first hour of delivery and continuing to breastfeed with good latches is important in getting an adequate milk supply.
- Is breastfeeding cheaper?
Formula can cost between $2,000 and $5,000 for the first year, depending on the type of formula, plus the cost of bottles and nipples.
Breastmilk, on the other hand, is free. Most moms can also get a breast pump from their insurance company so she can pump as needed and when she returns to work. She will also need some nursing bras and pads.
- Do you have to eat and drink certain things when breastfeeding?
A healthy diet that provides about 300 to 500 calories more than before pregnancy is recommended for breastfeeding mothers, as well as drinking water, tea or other beverages to thirst and taking a prenatal or multivitamin while breastfeeding. Some caffeine is okay. The same goes for an occasional drink of alcohol.
- How does pumping work?
Having a good double electric breast pump that you get through your insurance or like the ones sold and rented in Advocate Christ’s Lactation Center can help moms maintain their milk supply and help them pump when they return to work. Double pumping is most effective, and the milk can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.
- How long can you breastfeed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for six months exclusively, meaning no other food or formula for the baby, and then continuing to breastfeed after the introduction of solids for the first year and longer as desired by mom and baby.
- How can a mother increase her milk supply?
Every time you empty the breast, it refills. The best way to increase milk supply is by emptying the breast frequently through breastfeeding and/or pumping. We encourage new mothers to call our Lactation Center with questions when they are concerned about milk supply and to come to our support group.
- Can you get sick from breastfeeding?
You can’t get sick from breastfeeding; however, there are a couple of health-related issues that may arise during breastfeeding. The most common one is mastitis, which is an infection in the breast tissue. This causes mom to get a fever, flu-like symptoms and a sore, tender spot on her breast. If you have these symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor who can prescribe antibiotics for treatment.
- Can you donate your milk?
NICUs across the Chicago area use milk from a milk bank. This is milk that has been donated by mothers who have been screened and tested, and then this milk is pasteurized and sent out to NICUs. Our local milk bank is The Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. If a breastfeeding mother is interested in the process of donating milk, she can contact this milk bank.
Have more questions?
Advocate Christ Medical Center and other Advocate hospitals offer lactation services for new and expecting mothers, including breastfeeding classes for mothers who are in their third trimester. For more information, click here.
About the Author
Marrison Worthington, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and has several years of global corporate communications experience under her belt. Marrison loves spending her free time traveling, reading organizational development blogs, trying new cooking recipes, and playing with her golden retriever, Ari.