When you become a parent, you want to provide what's best for your child. Breast milk is the preferred choice for newborns.
Breastfeeding and its benefits
Choosing to breastfeed is a wise and even praiseworthy decision. It goes without saying that it is a simple, economical, and environmentally friendly way to provide the best to your baby. Studies show that breast milk is so complete that it is the only food or liquid a baby needs for the first six months of life. In fact, the World Health Organization and the medical community recommend exclusive breastfeeding during this period.
The benefits of breastfeeding go beyond those of simple nourishment. It also allows you to develop a unique and privileged connection with your baby and helps his/her development. Breast milk also contains antibodies and other immunizing factors that will help protect your baby against infection and disease, benefits that will last throughout his/her life.
Breastfeeding is natural, but it also a learned behaviour. Women who are learning to breastfeed need encouragement, comfort, and support. Loved ones and healthcare professionals have an important role to play. Therefore, women who commit to it and persevere usually get a lot of satisfaction and pride from it.
It's not the only option
Breastfeeding is wonderful, but it isn't always wanted or possible. Practically speaking, any woman who wishes to can breastfeed if she is well-informed and has a good support network. For various reasons, a woman may prefer to turn to bottle feeding or infant formula.
Additionally, some factors may stand in the way of the decision to breastfeed, for example:
- insufficient lactation
- suffering from certain illnesses
- taking certain medications, and
- health issues affecting the baby (e.g. cleft palate, premature birth, etc.)
Starting off on the right foot
Here are a few tips for successful breastfeeding:
- Start breastfeeding immediately after your baby is born. Babies are often more alert and eager to drink in the first hour after their birth.
- Seek the advice of a breastfeeding specialist while you are in the hospital as well as after you leave. Be engaged and ask a lot of questions.
- During the time you breastfeed, try to rest as often as possible. Have a nap while your baby is sleeping to keep up your energy.
- Eat healthy foods and drink a lot during the day. You will notice that breastfeeding causes thirst. Pour yourself a nice glass of water, fruit juice or milk before you start breastfeeding.
- Don’t stress about breastfeeding. Women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time and nothing is more natural. The more relaxed you are, the more you and your baby will enjoy all of the positive aspects of breastfeeding. Several resources are available if you have problems, but start with a positive outlook and things will go well.
- Ask friends and family for support and to help you with household tasks. Learn to delegate as breastfeeding will become your first priority and you will need to keep up your energy levels so you can care for your bundle of joy.
- Note that contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding is not considered an effective birth control method. If you do not wish to become pregnant while you breastfeed, speak to your healthcare professional about available birth control methods.
Speak to your pharmacist if you have questions about breastfeeding or you are having problems breastfeeding.