1. Breastfeeding Counselors and Lactation Consultants
If you have problems breastfeeding after
baby’s birth, people are available to help you. Contact your local La
Leche League to be put in contact with a breastfeeding counselor
who can offer support and share experiences, usually for no fee. She
may be available by telephone to answer questions, or she may visit you
When a breastfeeding counselor comes across a problem beyond her scope, she can refer you to a lactation consultant.
Breastfeeding counselors and lactation consultants often work closely
together. A lactation consultant is a qualified professional who may
work in hospitals, home-care services, health agencies and private
practice. A consultant can help with basic breastfeeding issues, assess
and observe you and your baby, develop a care plan, inform healthcare
providers of the situation and follow up with you as needed. You can
even contact a lactation consultant before baby’s birth.
If you smoke, it’s best to breastfeed.
The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the hazards from smoke that a
baby is exposed to. Nicotine passes through breast milk, but the
cancer-causing agents in cigarettes do not pass to baby. If you must smoke, wait 90 minutes after smoking to breastfeed. And be sure not to smoke around baby!
the International Lactation Consultant Association for further
information. They can be reached at 919-861-5577 or through their
website at www.ilca.org.
2. Benefits of Breastfeeding
All babies receive some protection from
mom against disease before birth. During pregnancy, antibodies pass
from mother to baby through the placenta. They circulate through baby’s
blood for a few months after birth. Breastfed babies receive continued
protection in breast milk.
Nursing the first 4 weeks of baby’s life
provides the most protection for baby and the best hormone release for
you. Breastfeeding for as short as 3 months may reduce baby’s risk of
developing allergies and infections. Breastfeeding for the first 6
months may help reduce the risks of asthma, juvenile diabetes,
childhood leukemia, stomach viruses and ear infections in baby. And you
may lower your child’s risk of SIDS by 50%!
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months. However,
by the time a baby reaches 3 months, only one in three will still be
breastfed. By this age, about 35% of all breastfed babies also receive
formula. By the age of 6 months, only 12% of all babies receive breast
Breast milk contains many substances to
help prevent infection. Breastfeeding may reduce the intensity and
length of time a problem lasts. For a while, breast milk gives baby
immunity against illnesses you’ve had. However, microwaving breast milk can kill antibodies that help protect baby from illness and disease, so never microwave breast milk.
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and
ARA (arachidonic acid) in breast milk are important for baby. Studies
show a baby who has them in his diet may have a higher IQ and greater
3. Breastfeeding and You
Breastfeeding your baby will definitely
have some effects on you. It may help you lose weight, but studies show
you need to breastfeed baby for at least 3 months to get
any benefit. After your milk supply is well established (about 6
weeks), strenuous exercise shouldn’t impact your milk supply. However,
sleep loss can affect your milk supply.
Breastfeeding may reduce your risks of
diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease in later life. In
addition, new research shows it may cut your breast-cancer risk by
nearly 60%! If there’s a history of breast cancer in your family,
especially your mother or sisters, breastfeeding may help protect you
against developing breast cancer. One study recommends women with a
family history of breast cancer should be strongly encouraged to
Breastfeeding does not make your
breasts sag. Your age, weight before pregnancy, your breast size and
whether you smoke are greater factors in determining whether your
breasts will sag after baby’s arrival.
Still being careful with caffeine
consumption? Drinking one to two cups of coffee a day shouldn’t affect
baby. However, if you notice baby becoming agitated, cut down your
Be careful with alcohol consumption.
Don’t believe the old wives’ tale that drinking beer will help increase
your milk supply. When you do have an alcoholic drink, drink it
immediately after breastfeeding and don’t have more than one. Choose
wine or beer because the percentage of alcohol in beer and wine is
lower than that for hard liquor. Beer and wine pass from your body in
about 3 hours. Studies show it takes up to 13 hours for hard liquor to
leave the body.