Breastfeeding is the method of infant feeding recommended by the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
It offers many benefits for infants, as well as for mothers. The University of Alabama's Melissa Carruth offers a few tips, as well as myths, expectant and nursing mothers ought to know.
- Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients to help the infant grow into a strong and healthy toddler and helps protect the infant against some common childhood illnesses and infections.
- Immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding with mom after delivery helps the infant maintain his or her body temperature and glucose level, as well as promotes bonding.
- Breastfeeding helps to burn extra calories, so mom will lose pregnancy weight faster. It also lowers a woman's risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
- "My milk is not in. My baby isn't getting anything and is hungry." This is truly a myth. The first few days after birth, the breasts make a clear, yellowish fluid called colostrum. The colostrum precedes milk production and is high in protein. It meets the baby's nutritional needs and helps the newborn's digestive tract develop and prepare itself to digest breast milk.
- "I will have to stop breastfeeding when I go back to work." Although a woman may choose to stop breastfeeding when she returns to work, she does not have to do so. She can breastfeed her infant/child prior to leaving for work, pump during the day and breastfeed again at night. The pumped milk can be bottle-fed to the infant/child on subsequent days. If pumping is not an option, one can still choose to breastfeed in the morning and at night. The breasts will begin to produce milk only at those times.
Carruth is a registered nurse and instructor at UA's Capstone College of Nursing.
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