When deciding whether to breast-feed or bottle-feed your baby, there are no right or wrong answers. Every woman and every family is different. The most important factor is to ensure your baby gets proper nutrition by choosing the method that is best for you.
At Comprehensive Women’s Care, we know you have a lot to factor into your decision and respect each family’s choice. Keeping in mind that breastfeeding for any length of time is beneficial, we encourage new Moms to consider this option.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
For many new moms, breastfeeding provides an instant bond to the baby. But more importantly, healthcare providers say breast milk is the healthier option. Consider these benefits:
- Protective nutrients for baby. Breast milk naturally has the right balance of nutrients for your baby. Some of these nutrients help protect your baby from common childhood illnesses and infections such as diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia and sudden infant death syndrome. Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop asthma.
- Lower cancer risk. Moms who breastfeed have been shown to have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
- Lower risk of PPD. Women who breastfeed may have a lower risk of postpartum depression.
- Reduced obesity risk. Kids who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese later in childhood or adulthood.
- It’s free. Families can save between $1,200 and $1,500 in formula in the first year.
While breastfeeding is a natural life process, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. It can take time, patience and practice for the baby to properly “latch” and for you to learn when your baby is finished. It also takes practice to learn how to pump and to get accustomed to the new routine.
After your delivery, lactation experts at Littleton Adventist Hospital are available to help you get started. Once you’re home, our office will continue to support you in this important effort.
It’s important to know that breastfeeding does not “come naturally” for most women. It can be painful until the baby learns to latch properly or until your nipples become tougher. Don’t let this discourage you and know that these problems are temporary.
Once you begin nursing, there are some problems that can arise that are easily treated. You should aways notify your physician immediately of any changes in your breasts.
Engorgement. Within three days of delivery, your breasts begin producing a lot of milk. That also causes more blood flow to the breasts, which makes them full and swollen. For some women, this fullness is uncomfortable and even may extend into the armpit. This is engorgement. It typically passes within a couple days with frequent nursing and pumping. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms or a fever, be sure to call us. This can be a sign of infection.
Plugged milk duct. If your body makes milk faster than you’re feeding or pumping, it may result in a plugged milk duct. Symptoms include redness, swelling or a small, hard lump in the breast. The lump may be tender or even sore to the touch. Continuing to frequently nurse and pump will likely make you feel better. You may also want to try rest, heat and massage. If the symptoms don’t subside, call us. Without treatment, a plugged duct can develop into mastitis.
Lactation mastitis. This infection typically occurs in the first three months after delivery. With mastitis, women experience breast pain, swelling, warmth or redness of the breast, fever or feeling ill. When you notice these symptoms, call us. Antibiotics are frequently used to treat the infection.
Thrush. This common, yet harmless, yeast infection occurs in a baby's mouth and can affect your nipples during breastfeeding. You might notice your nipples are itchy, pink, red, shiny or burning, or you may experience a shooting breast pain during or after nursing. You might also notice symptoms in your baby, such as white patches inside the lips or cheeks, or crying when nursing or sucking on a pacifier if those white patches are painful. Call your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Treatments include prescription antifungal medications.
(Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health)