Many studies speak to the benefits of breastfeeding for babies and new moms. Breastfeeding helps moms lose weight and bond with their babies. Breastfeeding helps babies by providing a good mix of nutrients and antibodies to protect against diseases.
Six Texas Health hospitals have been recognized as "Baby Friendly" by the World Health Organization. You may have noticed practices such as rooming in, practicing skin-to-skin contact, and feeding on demand while in the hospital. They are all designed to help new parents learn cues and bond with their baby.
Many moms and babies have difficulty adjusting to breastfeeding. That's where lactation consultants and breastfeeding resource centers can come in handy to answer questions and help make the process flow more smoothly. You can also visit the Texas Health Moms forums to ask other moms what worked for them.
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So now you and baby have nursing down. What comes next?
If your baby is nursing well, sucking efficiently and gaining weight, the fifth or sixth week is a good time to introduce a bottle with an artificial nipple if you plan on using a bottle at any point in the future. If your baby still seems to be learning how to suck from the breast, wait a little longer until you become a confident nursing couple. If your partner wants to feed the baby, or you want to be able to leave the baby for a couple of hours, pumped breastmilk in a bottle will make it possible.
Learning to pump your milk requires the right pump and some practice. The key is to let down your milk in response to the pump just as you do in response to your baby's sucking. Electric pumps mimic your baby's suck more closely than manual pumps, and therefore are more effective. They are expensive to buy but can be rented for a reasonable fee from a pharmacy or a lactation consultant. Plan your first pumping sessions for an early morning, when you feel fullest, before your baby wakes and wants to nurse. Don't worry about taking milk that your baby needs for breakfast. Remember, the more milk you take from your breasts, the more milk your breasts will make. The first few times, you may pump an ounce or less. With practice, many mothers can pump eight ounces or more in a session.
For guidelines on storing, freezing, and thawing breastmilk, visit the La Leche League website.
Some content was adapted from The Parent Review