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Breastfeeding Basics

Why Breastfeeding Is Good For You and Baby

The benefits of breastfeeding are well documented. Not only does your baby get all the nutrition he or she needs for up to a year after they are born, but the mother also benefits. It’s easier to lose weight when you’re breastfeeding and the money you save by not buying formula can really add up over time. Studies have also shown that breastfeeding may even lower the risk of some forms of breast and ovarian cancers.

Start Early: You want to initiate skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as possible after birth, preferably while you’re still in the labor/delivery room. Your baby is very alert during this time and it is easer to get them to try feeding within the first two hours of life.
Your Baby Determines Feeding Time: When you’re breastfeeding, there’s no need to watch the clock. Your baby needs to nurse 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. Ideally, they should feed for 15 to 20 minutes on each breast. If you start to feel sleepy while feeding, don’t feel bad. It’s the result of natural hormonal adjustments.
Look for Clues: Your baby will provide cues when they’re hungry:
“I want to eat” – Rooting, hands going to mouth, sucking motions, tight fists over the chest or tummy or crying.
“I am full” – Arching of the back, pushing away from the breast, falling asleep, open or relaxed arms.
“I need to rest” – Pulling away or looking around. This is a great time to burp the child.

REMEMBER: The more you breastfeed the more milk you will have to offer. You can’t overfeed a breastfed baby!

Nutrition: Mother’s milk is high quality nutrition for your baby. It is loaded with everything your baby needs – fat, sugar, water, protein and antibodies that help fight infection. For the first six months your baby won’t need anything else.
Before switching to formula, be sure to check with your pediatrician or one of our Lactation Consultants to consider the risks of feeding your baby formula.
Eating Right While Feeding: If you’re breastfeeding, you may find that you’re hungrier than usual. Be sure to eat nutritional foods so your baby gets what he or she needs. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If you feel your baby might not like something you’re eating, stop for a few weeks. Culprits often include cow’s milk, eggs, peanut butter and citrus.
  • You’ll find you get pretty thirsty while breastfeeding. Limit your intake of coffee, tea and soda and load up on water instead.
  • Avoid alcohol if at all possible.

Issues That May Arise: Occasionally, you’ll find that something isn’t quite right. Following are some of the common side effects or maladies and how to manage them.

  • Engorgement – Two to five days after delivery your breasts may feel very full and hard. This condition will usually subside after three to five days and you can avoid it entirely with frequent feedings (8 to 12 times a day). Other treatments include massaging the breast gently prior to and during feeding, using a breast pump or hand expression to soften the areola and stimulate milk flow if the baby can’t latch on, and applying a cold pack (or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth) to the breast 10 to 20 minutes before feeding.
  • Plugged Milk Duct – If you have a tender or painful area or in the breast that is localized you may have a plugged milk duct. It occurs when you fail to completely empty the breast, miss feedings or wear a tight or underwire bra. Treatments include applying moist, warm heat to the area prior to and in between feedings, gently massaging the breast just above the sore area while you nurse, and nursing more frequently (ideally, at least ever two hours). Not treating plugged ducts can lead to mastitis (see below).
  • Mastitis – This infection of the breast tissue can either cause soreness and redness of the breast along with flu-like symptoms and/or fever. Missed feedings, stress, fatigue, tight bras or ineffective treatment for cracked nipples or plugged milk ducts are the usual causes. Do not stop nursing! Instead, call your doctor – antibiotics may be necessary. Remove your bra, nurse at least every two hours, apply moist heat to the breast frequently throughout the day, increase your fluid intake and get some bed rest.

Proper Positioning
Many new mothers experience frustration when first getting their baby to latch on. Finding the proper position is often the solution. Following are some tips to get you comfortable:

The Cradle Position

  • Place a pillow or two in your lap to support your baby.
  • Place your baby's head on the crook of your arm.
  • Make sure your baby is turned toward you, chest-to-chest at breast level.
  • Support your breast with your hand in an "L" or "C" position; thumb on top of breast, fingers below, away from the areola.
  • Tickle your baby's upper lip until he opens wide, then quickly pull your baby onto your breast. Be patient. This may take several attempts.
  • Make sure your baby's lips are encircling the areola (not just the nipple).
  • Your baby's chin should be touching the breast.

Football/Clutch Position

  • Put a pillow or two at your side to help support your arm and your baby.
  • Support your baby's neck and the lower back of your baby's head in your hand. With your forearm, support your baby's upper body against your side.
  • Follow the last four steps under The Cradle Position.

Lying Down Position

  • Lie on your side with pillows supporting your back and your top leg, which is bent forward.
  • Place your baby on his side facing you.
  • Follow the last four steps under The Cradle Position.

Weaning Your Child
The length of time you want to breastfeed is a personal decision. When you decide it is time, we recommend you do it gradually. If you are going back to work while nursing, you will need to pump your breasts regularly while you are away from your baby. If you are weaning, need a breast pump or just have a question, call the Lactation Center at 407-303-7650 and we’ll be happy to help you.

For more information call the Florida Hospital Lactation Center at (407) 303-7650. Staffed by nurses who are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, the Florida Hospital Lactation Center offers personalized care and services, including breastfeeding classes, educational materials, breast pump sales and rental, private consultations and more. The center also has a breastfeeding support line: (407) 303-7650 or toll-free (800) 523-8941.

For more information call 407-303-4HER