Women’s Health A-Z
Breastfeeding is very beneficial for both moms and their babies. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend exclusive breastfeeding for your baby’s first six months of life. After six months, they recommend continuing to breastfeed while introducing complementary foods during the first year of life. You may continue breastfeeding after that as long as you and your baby would like.
Benefits for Mom
- Breastfeeding may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
- It may be easier for you to lose weight when breastfeeding since it burns as many as 500 calories each day.
- When you breastfeed, oxytocin is released. This helps your uterus return to its normal size and may help decrease the amount of bleeding you have after giving birth.
Benefits for Baby
- Your baby needs the right nutrition to grow and develop. Breast milk adapts to your baby’s needs, providing the right amount of fat, sugar, water, protein, and minerals.
- The longer your baby breastfeeds, the more protected they will be against illnesses and infections because your breast milk contains antibodies.
- Your baby will have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Trouble with Breastfeeding
Don’t take it personally! Even though breastfeeding is natural, it’s not always easy. It may take some time for your baby to learn how to latch. Sometimes, your own medical conditions may make it difficult for you to breastfeed. There are a lot of resources out there, such as lactation consultants at your pediatrician’s office of local lactation centers, to help you and your baby figure out the process, so do not hesitate to reach out to them when you need some guidance.
Nutrition While Breastfeeding
Since you are providing nutrition to your baby, it’s important to monitor your own intake so that you can maximize the breastfeeding benefits and keep yourself and your baby happy and healthy. While you may drink a moderate amount of caffeine, it’s important to limit your intake since newborns are sensitive to it. You may also have an alcoholic beverage on occasion. As long as you consume a minimal amount and do not feel the effects of alcohol, you are allowed to breastfeed. You should also avoid smoking and using drugs as this can harm your baby. Don’t forget to take in adequate calories while breastfeeding since you are burning so many–about 2,500 calories a day works for women who are within a normal weight range.
Resources in Richmond
There are several resources you can turn to if you have trouble with breastfeeding or if you have questions. RVA has a La Leche Leauge, and there is also A Woman’s Place Lactation Center, among groups with specialized resources available. Your physician would be happy to point you in the right direction, too, if you’re not sure where to start.