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The decision to breastfeed is a positive one for both you and your baby. By choosing to breastfeed, you are giving your baby the healthiest start possible.
Breast milk is the best food for your baby. Besides having all the nutrition your baby needs to grow, breast milk has special properties that help protect your baby from illness. For these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year of your baby’s life.
Lactation is another word for breastfeeding. If you have trouble with breastfeeding, can’t seem to keep up your milk supply, or your baby shows signs of not getting enough milk, you may be referred to a lactation consultant.
A lactation consultant is a health care provider who has received advanced training and certification in breastfeeding. To reach the lactation consultant at McKay-Dee Hospital, call 801-387-4132.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both you and your baby.
For the baby:
- Breast milk contains antibodies, which are substances that help your baby resist disease. In fact, breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, lung infections, and respiratory illnesses than formula-fed babies.
- Breast milk provides your baby with the best nutritional balance – and rarely causes allergies. It is also easier to digest, and your baby is less likely to vomit or have diarrhea.
- Breast milk is free and convenient. It doesn’t need to be prepared and is always in supply. It’s even good for the environment since there are no bottles, cans, or boxes to throw away!
- Studies have shown that breastfeeding is positively linked with improved intelligence and retinal (eye) development, especially in preterm infants.
For the mother:
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.
- Breastfeeding builds bone strength to protect against bone fractures in older age.
- Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size more quickly.
- Breastfeeding burns calories and helps you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly.
Whether you know you want to breastfeed or are just beginning to think about this decision, you’re sure to have many questions. You may be concerned about how to fit breastfeeding into your busy life, or that your family and friends won’t support your decision. Or, you may wonder if you’ll be physically able to breastfeed.
It’s true that breastfeeding doesn’t necessarily come easily for everyone. You may experience difficulty with positioning, worry that your baby is not getting enough milk, or have sore or tender nipples. Also, it takes practice and patience to find a pattern that works best for you and your baby. Having the support of family and friends is helpful when you are breastfeeding, as is knowing that you are giving your baby the best possible start in life.
For more information about breastfeeding, please check out Living and Learning Together, A Guild to Breastfeeding.
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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. More health information is available at www.intermountainhealthcare.org.