Breastfeeding is the best feeding choice for your baby in almost every case. Human milk is specifically made for human babies. It is a living, changing fluid with benefits that even the best formula cannot provide. In the beginning, breastfeeding may be a little more challenging than feeding your baby formula, but once breastfeeding is well-established (usually after about two weeks), it is easier and has many benefits over formula. We offer inpatient and outpatient lactation support to assist you in those first couple weeks of “breastfeeding boot camp” and beyond.
We know that breastfeeding your baby isn't everyone's choice. We want your decision to be an informed choice, that is why we provide you with information about the benefits of breastfeeding. We support your decision, whatever it may be. If you choose to feed your newborn formula, our inpatient and outpatient lactation and nutrition consultants will assist you in learning proper preparation and handling techniques. We will teach you hunger cues and signs that your baby has had enough to eat. Our Couplet Care nurses and Lactation Consultants look forward to working with you in your early bonding processes to assure you have the tools you need to transition from hospital to home.
To help you decide if breastfeeding is right for you we want to provide some information about the benefits of breastfeeding. Babies who are breastfed have fewer and less severe infections, require fewer doctor’s visits and hospital admissions, have reduced incidence of diseases later in life (leukemia, diabetes, some cancers) and are smarter. Moms who nurse have less postpartum bleeding, reduced postpartum depression, faster return to their pre-pregnancy weight and have been shown to have less risk of breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Breastfeeding also helps a family save money. Not only is formula expensive (around $1,000 for a baby’s first year), but the costs saved in health care bills and lost work days add up.
Breastfeeding also is the “green” thing to do. For every 1 million babies who are fed with formula during the first year of life, it is estimated that 150 million cans of formula end up in landfills. Feeding a baby with breast milk significantly reduces your carbon footprint by decreasing use of fuels to transport formula and bottles to the store; decreasing energy used in producing formula, bottles and packaging products; and reducing waste from cans and bottles.
We encourage you to consider breastfeeding and ask questions of your obstetrician or midwife as well as your baby’s pediatrician before delivery. There are certain things that can make breastfeeding more difficult. For example, a mother who has had breast reduction or implant surgery, breast cancer or other illnesses may have a more difficult time in the beginning. An infant with certain issues, such as Down syndrome or cleft palate, may be a little more of a challenge to feed. If you are expecting twins or multiples, you can still breastfeed.
There are a few things that may be helpful to know about breastfeeding during your pregnancy. Usually the breasts begin to secrete a creamy white/yellow fluid called colostrum at week 16 to 20 of pregnancy. The breasts can double in weight during pregnancy in preparation to make milk. Milk “comes in” or transitions from colostrum to mature milk two to five days after delivery.
Many mothers-to-be are curious about breast pumps and register for pumps for baby showers/gifts. This certainly is a fine idea, but not everyone needs a good (expensive) breast pump, especially in the first month or so of the baby’s life. If you plan on going back to work full-time early in your baby’s life, it is a good idea to go ahead and purchase an electric pump before delivery.
If you have more questions about breastfeeding and its benefits for you and your baby, contact the lactation consultants at the Kosair Children’s Medical Center – Brownsboro Lactation Center.