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  Last Updated on 07/13/2018

Breastfeeding Your Child Effectively: Introduction to Breastfeeding


from About.com

In almost all cases, breast milk is the most perfect food for your baby. It contains easily digestible proteins, many factors that support your new baby's immature immune system, and other factors that aid in digestion. It is also low in cost and requires no preparation. Breast fed babies are also less likely to have colic, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, constipation, asthma or allergies. And breastfeeding will burn up almost 500 calories each day, helping mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner.

To help maximize the chance that you will breastfeed effectively, I would recommend that you:


  • try and breastfeed your baby right after he is born and before he is taken to the nursery if possible
    room in with your baby so that you can breastfeed on demand when your baby is hungry

  • instruct the nursery staff to not give supplemental bottles of formula unless instructed to do so by your Pediatrician and if a supplement is required for some reason, ask if an alternative to a bottle can be used, such as a lactation aid, finger feeding or cup. Don't underestimate the danger of a bottle, even if given occasionally, can have to your chances of breastfeeding well.

  • have the hospital staff (and a lactation consultant if available) observe you breastfeeding your baby prior to discharge

  • avoid supplementing with formula or using a bottle before he is 3-4 weeks old (unless instructed to do so by your Pediatrician). In fact, it is probably best to not use a bottle at all to maximize your chances of breastfeeding effectively. Finger feeding, cup feeding or a lactation aid are all better alternatives.

  • avoid using a pacifier before he is 3-4 weeks old (unless he is already breastfeeding effectively, then it is probably all right to introduce a pacifier sooner). Again, it is probably best to not use a pacifier at all, since their use is associated with early weaning and prolonged use of a pacifier is associated with an increased risk of ear infections.

  • don't smoke (smoking is associated with having a poor milk supply and many other negative medical effects on children and especially newborns), although if you do smoke, you can definitely breastfeed and it may help offset the increased risk of allergies and asthma that is found in children that are exposed to second hand smoke.

  • limit the intake of foods and drinks that have caffeine in them

  • follow a well balanced diet with about 2000 - 2700 kcal/d.

If you are having difficulty breastfeeding, there are many places that you can get help, including your Pediatrician and/or Ob, a lactation consultant, breastfeeding support groups and the Internet.  Breastfeeding can be difficult and you should not hesitate to get help if you need it. Keep in mind that not all health care professionals are supportive of breastfeeding. If your doctor can't help you to effectively breastfeed your infant, then look for a certified lactation consultant in your area.

Many Pediatricians are quick to recommend supplementing breastfeeding with a bottle of formula for newborns that aren't gaining weight well. An evaluation by a certified lactation consultant to assess your breast milk supply and to see if your baby is latching on well is usually a better alternative. While it is widely believed that offering bottles won't hurt, it can often increase the chances that breastfeeding will fail. If a supplement is needed, then a lactation aid or finger feeding are better alternatives. If your Pediatrician is unfamiliar with these techniques, then a lactation consultant may be helpful.

This guide to Breastfeeding is reproduced with the permission of the author, Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC, a pediatrician and a graduate of the University of Toronto medical school. He started the first hospital-based breastfeeding clinic in Canada in 1984. He has been a consultant with UNICEF for the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative in Africa. Dr. Newman has practiced as a physician in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. He currently operates four breastfeeding clinics in Toronto, Ontario.

Dr. Newman is also the author of The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers : The Most Comprehensive Problem-Solution Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America.

Despite all of these advantages of breastfeeding, you should not feel guilty if you decide that you would rather feed your baby formula. There are many formulas available that will provide your baby with good nutrition to promote his growth and development.

There are some reasons why a mother should not breastfeed, including taking a medication that is contraindicated during breastfeeding (although few are really contraindicated), being infected with HIV or having active tuberculosis that is not being treated, having herpes with active lesions on you breast, abusing illicit drugs, or having an untreated breast abscess (although the need to stop breastfeeding in this case is controversial). Women with Hepatitis C should understand that it is theoretically possible to pass the infection to their infant while breastfeeding, although this has not been documented and maternal Hepatitis C infection is not considered to be a contraindication to breastfeeding (mom's should just be aware that it is theoretically possible and make their own decision). However, women with Hepatitis B infection can breastfeed if their newborn has received the Hepatitis B Immune Globulin and Hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. Mothers with primary herpes with active lesions (not on their breast) should discuss with their doctor whether or not they should breastfeed. Also, children with galactosemia can not breastfeed.





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