According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding education increases both the rate of breastfeeding initiation and breastfeeding duration, especially when personalized for each woman’s needs.
Successful initiation depends on experiences in the hospital as well as access to instruction on lactation from breastfeeding experts, particularly in the early postpartum period. Most problems, if identified and treated early, need not pose a threat to the continuation of successful breastfeeding. By increasing the rates of breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity, breastfeeding can improve the health of women and children in the United States.
Breastfeeding Education FAQs
Breast milk is the best food for babies In the first year of life. It helps babies grow healthy and strong, as it supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions. As babies grow, they have healthy weights.
Breastfeeding provides benefits for both infants and mothers. Breastfeeding helps protect a baby from many illnesses. Breastfed infants have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, acute ear infections, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe lower respiratory disease. Mothers who breastfeed their infants have a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
During pregnancy, your body is preparing for your baby’s birth by getting ready to produce breast milk. At delivery, pregnancy hormones change suddenly, and the breastfeeding hormones (prolactin and oxytocin) start working to provide breast milk.
When your baby sucks at your breast, the hormones are released, causing milk to flow. The more frequently you breastfeed your baby, the more your hormones will be released and the more milk you will make.
If you breastfeed exclusively without bottle feeding in between feedings, you will have more success in meeting your breastfeeding goals. When your baby feeds well and empties the breast well, especially within the first few weeks, your body will continue to make more milk to meet your breastfeeding goals.
Breast milk is filled with the vitamins and nutrients that your baby needs to grow healthy and strong. In the first few days after giving birth, colostrum is the first milk–it is yellow in color and rich in nutrition. Within 3-5 days, your milk will change color and will be produced in greater quantities. Your breast milk has antibodies from your immune system, which will help your baby fight infections.
“Latching on” is the term used to describe the way your baby attaches to your breast to nurse. For breastfeeding success, your baby needs to latch on well to the breast for the breast milk to flow properly and for your baby to feed well.
Breast or nipple pain is a sign that a baby is not latched on well. You can avoid discomfort and pain by latching your baby properly to the breast. Good positioning and properly taking the baby off the breast can help ensure a better breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby.
Lactation consultants can help with any “latching on” issues you might be having with the way your baby attaches to your breast to nurse. They can show you how to bring the baby to the breast, ensure the baby’s mouth is wide open with flanged lips, and achieve an asymmetrical latch onto the areola.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) views breastfeeding as an investment in health, not just a lifestyle decision. Low breastfeeding rates add more than $3 billion a year to medical costs for the mother and child in the U.S.
The World Health Organization recommends that women exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months of life to achieve optimal growth, development, and health. A review of evidence has shown that, on a population basis, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. After that, infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months with continued breastfeeding along with introducing appropriate complementary foods for 1 year or longer, as mutually desired by mother and infant. According to Dr. Ruth Peterson, director of CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, “Breastfeeding provides unmatched health benefits for babies and mothers. It is the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition, with breast milk uniquely tailored to meet the health needs of a growing baby. We must do more to create supportive and safe environments for mothers who choose to breastfeed.” On the other hand, mothers who do not breastfeed their infants for many different reasons also need to be supported.