Breastfeeding offers an unmatched beginning for our children. Human milk provides infants with the most complete nutrition possible, giving them the optimal mix of nutrients and antibodies required for each baby to thrive. Scientific studies have shown that breastfed children have fewer and less serious illnesses than those who never receive breast milk, including reduced risk of SIDS and less childhood cancer and diabetes. Studies have also shown that breastfed babies have higher IQ's along with better brain & nervous system development.
Mothers who breastfeed are healthier. Recent studies show that women who breastfeed enjoy decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, anemia, and osteoporosis. They are encouraged by their ability to provide complete nourishment for their baby. Both mother and baby enjoy the emotional benefits of the very special and close relationship formed through breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Points to Remember
- Your baby needs eight to ten feedings in 24 hours. That's every two to three hours during the day and every three to four hours at nighttime.
- On average, your baby should be nursing actively at least ten to fifteen minutes per side.
- For the first few days, your nipples may be tender during latch-on. During feedings, make sure your baby is facing you, tummy to tummy. Leave your nipples exposed to the air after feedings.
- During breastfeeding, for the first five days, you may experience some uterine cramping that resembles menstrual cramps. This is normal, although sometimes a bit uncomfortable. It is a good sign that your uterus is contracting and clamping down on the vessels to stop the bleeding. Your milk is also letting down.
- Until your milk comes in, your baby should have as many wet diapers as days old.
- Once your milk comes in (within three to five days), your baby should have at least six to eight wet diapers in a 24-hour period.
- Also, your baby should have two to five bowel movements in a 24-hour period. The first few days, bowel movements will be thick and dark. Thereafter, your breastfed baby's stools will be yellow, loose or watery, and seedy looking.
Positioning & Latch-On
You need to be well-supported and comfortable so you can hold your baby close to your breast and relax without straining. Using pillows and/or a stool to bring baby to breast height is helpful so you don't have to support your baby's weight throughout the feeding. There are several different positions when either sitting up or lying down. Sitting up is normally easier. The most common position is the cradle hold. The baby's head is resting in the crook of your arm. The baby is on his side facing you, pulled in close.
When you are ready to breastfeed, bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby. Hold baby close so that he directly faces your breast and doesn't have to turn his head or strain to reach the breast. Encourage baby to open wide by lightly tickling or brushing his lips with your nipple. Once the baby's mouth is opened wide, bring him to the breast so that he takes the breast deeply into his mouth for a good latch-on. If the baby is on the breast well, he will take a large mouthful of breast and be pulled in so close that his chin will be pressed into your breast. His nose may rest on your breast. If he does not latch on to the breast well, gently take him off and try again.
Expression & Storage
Before beginning collection of breast milk, always wash your hands. Make sure the pump parts that will touch the milk are sterile (They can be sterilized in the top rack of the dishwasher, in the microwave or in boiling water for twenty minutes). After pumping, store milk in two to four-ounce portions to reduce waste. Pump directly into either plastic bottles that you can seal or freezer bags that are specifically designed for storing mothers milk.
- At room temperature, breastmilk is good for four hours.
- When cooled with frozen ice packs, milk is good for 24 hours.
- In the refrigerator, breastmilk is good for five to seven days.
- In the freezer, breastmilk is good for four months.
- In the deep freeze, breastmilk is good for six to twelve months.
Refrigerated milk should be frozen within 24 hours, if you are not going to use it within the five to seven day time frame. Refrigerate milk immediately, if you are not going to use it within the six to ten hours that it is good at room temperature. Never refreeze breastmilk or put milk back in the refrigerator. Never put breastmilk on the stove or in the microwave. To thaw or warm, place the milk in warm water.