What are the benefits of breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding offers many benefits for both mother and baby. A healthy baby can benefit from breast milk, infant formula or a combination of the two. Breast milk is extremely nutritious and contains carbohydrates, proteins and fats essential for your baby's health. Breastfeeding, apart from helping babies get proper nutrition, can help mothers recover from pregnancy and delivery. Breastfeeding can
- Promote a bond between mother and baby
- Is natural and specially made for your baby
- Has lots of things that are good for your baby, but are not found in formula milk
- Is safe for your baby, and easily digested
- Contains all the minerals and nutrients that your baby needs for the first six months of life. Together with other foods, it is very good for the next six months or more as well
- Is always ready when your baby needs it
- Also contains antibodies that help prevent infections and allergies. Your baby will be less likely to get infections, allergies and many other diseases.
- Your baby may grow and develop better
- Breastfed babies have less chance of obesity
- Releases hormones that cause the uterus to shrink after delivery and also decreases bleeding. It helps your body return to normal more quickly after the birth.
- Mothers who breastfeed typically have an easier time losing weight after pregnancy
- Helps build a woman's bone mineral density and helps prevent osteoporosis after menopause
- Does not cost anything and does not take time to prepare
I have decided to breastfeed. What next?
Expecting mothers planning to nurse should discuss breastfeeding with a doctor, nurse or certified lactation consultant before giving birth. Although breastfeeding is a natural process, most of us need to learn how.
If you decide to breastfeed your child, you should understand that breastfeeding is a major responsibility that requires you to maintain excellent nutrition and health. You should eat well-balanced, nutritious meals. Generous portions of whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products with an abundance of calcium are recommended. Most babies are born knowing how to breastfeed, but sometimes it may take time for both of you to learn this new skill. Midwives and nurses in the hospital will help you and your baby start breastfeeding.
Is it safe to drink coffee while breastfeeding?
Most physicians agree that it is safe to consume small amounts of caffeine (equivalent to one to two cups of coffee per day), though larger amounts of caffeine may interfere with your baby's sleep or cause him or her to become fussy.
Is it safe to drink while breastfeeding?
Alcohol should be avoided because it can be passed through breast milk to your baby. An occasional drink (no more than two ounces of alcohol) is probably safe.