During August, organizations around the world spread awareness about breastfeeding and how it can benefit babies in all communities. Across the world, only about 38% of infants are exclusively breastfed.
We at Women’s Health Partners support each mother in their decision on whether or not to breastfeed their child. It is important to know the benefits and tips to start breastfeeding when you’re making the decision.
Who Can Breastfeed?
Unless there are health problems with the mom, almost all mothers are able to breastfeed and encouraged to do so for the first six months of their baby’s life. Moms may need to alter their lifestyle habits while they are breastfeeding.
Benefits from Breastfeeding
Both mom and baby benefit from breastfeeding! Breastfeeding provides your baby with all of the nutrition they need for growth and development. It provides your baby with antibodies that protect them from illnesses, and it is easier for them to digest compared to formula. Breastfeeding has also shown to decrease the risk of certain health problems including sudden infant death syndrome.
There are also benefits to the breastfeeding mother’s health after pregnancy, including helping your uterus return to it’s normal size, helping you lose weight, and reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
What to Eat and Drink While You’re Breastfeeding
While breastfeeding, you will need extra calories and will need to be careful about eating and drinking certain things.
- Avoid eating fish with high mercury levels
- Drinking more than 300 mg of caffeine may affect your baby
- Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day may affect your baby
- Most medications are safe to continue taking, but talk with your doctor before doing so
- Do not smoke or use illegal drugs while breastfeeding
Tips for Breastfeeding
Use resources from your obstetrician or resources available online for more tips on breastfeeding. It can often help to use a lactation consultant, especially if you have breastfeeding challenges such as sore nipples, milk supply, engorgement, plugged ducts, etc.