Breastfeeding is healthy for you and your baby. Here are some reasons why breastfeeding is best:
- Breast milk can help protect your baby against illness. It can protect her from allergies. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it’s good for babies to be breastfed for the first year of life.
- It’s best for mom. Many breastfeeding mothers lose the weight they gained while pregnant faster than mothers who do not breastfeed.
- It creates a bond between mother and baby. You can learn your baby’s signals faster.
- Breast milk is easier to digest than formula and you don’t have to prepare bottles or formula. Breast milk is always ready. Babies do not become constipated from breast milk.
Each baby has her own feeding schedule. Some babies need to nurse more often than others do. In general, nursing babies need to be fed at least eight to 12 times in a 24-hour period. That means feedings every two to three hours. If your baby has not fed for several hours and then dozes off after only a few minutes of nursing, gently wake her to encourage her to continue nursing. Try to help your baby feed until your breasts are emptied of milk or at least 15 minutes from each breast.
If you have any questions or problems with breastfeeding, talk to your doctor, nurse or WIC breastfeeding counselor. To learn more about breastfeeding, you may call La Leche League at 1-800-LALECHE or visit their Web site at www.lalecheleague.org/.
Follow your baby’s lead. Babies tend to get as much milk as they need when you let them nurse when they want and for as long as they want. The more your baby nurses, the more milk you will produce. Your milk supply will keep up with your baby’s demand.
How do you know when your baby is hungry? Here are some hunger signs to be aware of:
Early hunger signs:
- Head moves toward voice, mouth opens
- Lips smack, tongue reaches outward
- Hands move “randomly”
- Fists find mouth
- Infant begins fussing
Late hunger signs:
- Brow furrows
- Mouth widens, head moves quickly from side to side
- Fists clench, seeking the mouth
- Baby cries
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