Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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You can give your baby one of the greatest gifts possible by making the decision to breastfeed. Relatively minor ailments, such as ear infections and gastrointestinal problems, are less common among breastfed children, but so are long-term, potentially dangerous conditions, such as obesity and some childhood cancers.
You've likely heard that breastfeeding can confer some pretty impressive benefits to your baby—reduced ear infections and asthma, maybe even a bump in IQ among them. Turns out there are even more perks for your little one, not to mention for you, society and even Mother Earth.
Breastfeeding is a good—no, great—thing. But as the saying goes, good things don't always come easily. Marathon feeding sessions, engorged breasts and sore nipples are some of the challenges you might face, especially in the first weeks, when you and your baby learn the ropes and your milk supply is established.
Common wisdom used to be that breasts of any size are capable of producing ample milk. But new research shows that, while that’s mostly true, certain breasts may have problems—particularly if they don’t expand much during pregnancy, as ample growth typically indicates that the milk ducts are multiplying and growing.
This is a common concern among new breastfeeding moms, because unlike with a bottle, it’s difficult to tell just how much milk your baby is drinking. But here’s the good news: If you’re nursing frequently and effectively and taking care of yourself, you shouldn’t have trouble making enough milk.
Many a mom has heard that beans, broccoli, chili peppers, garlic and onions should be avoided like the plague while breastfeeding. But if you devoured these foods during pregnancy, they probably won’t bother your baby now, says Ruth Lawrence, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York and chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Breastfeeding.
Planning to breastfeed your baby? You should. Nothing compares to the intimate moments between a mother and her nursing child, and nothing—nothing—helps a baby get off to a healthier start in life.
Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding—once you get the hang of it—is the easiest way to nourish your baby.
It’s also the healthiest, proven to reduce many childhood illnesses (including ear infections) and health threats in later life (obesity, to name just one).
You also save time and money because you don’t have to buy and prepare formula, which can cost up to $1,200 a year.
But how can you breastfeed and still have a life? What if you want to go out to dinner or have to travel? What if you go back to work? We’ll show you.
The state you live in helps determine your baby’s chance of being breastfed. Women in the West are most likely to nurse, Southern women least likely. Higher rates are also found among women who live in states with baby-friendly laws, like those that exempt breastfeeding from indecency rules. Health experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months and supplemental breastfeeding through at least the first year. While three-quarters of new moms begin breastfeeding in the hospital, only 36 percent continue for six months; and just 17 percent keep nursing for one year.
For some women, breastfeeding goes smoothly; for others, it can be difficult. That’s when advice from a certified lactation consultant is invaluable. “We help women separate fact from fiction,” says Debi Page Ferrarello, I.B.C.L.C., director of the Breastfeeding Resource Center in Glenside, Pa. “There is so much conflicting advice—our job is to help new moms feel confident.” Even if you haven’t had questions or challenges, chances are you will at some point. Here’s a look at some of the most common concerns.
1. How do I know if my baby is getting enough milk?
Your baby. He’ll have your smile, his father’s eyes and, ideally, your breast milk. To make sure that milk is the best it can be, you may think you need to follow the same stringent dietary guidelines as when you were pregnant. The good news is, you now can relax a little.
Many women approach breastfeeding with an all-or-nothing attitude, assuming that they’ll breastfeed exclusively and that it will be an effortless, even blissful experience. After all, why shouldn’t something so natural be easy? The good news is, for many women, nursing is trouble-free. But as any lactation consultant will tell you, breastfeeding also is a learned art, one that requires education, practice and plenty of support. With that in mind, we asked several leading lactation consultants to give us their best breastfeeding tips.