Breastfeeding: The Benefits and Challenges
Breastfeeding a baby can result in many health benefits. It can provide ideal nutrition for babies and allow for skin-to-skin and eye contact that will help babies feel secure. When a baby is breastfed, there is a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome. A child who has been breastfed is less likely to get type 1 diabetes, and breastfeeding decreases the risk of childhood cancer.
In addition, breastfeeding can help decrease bleeding in moms after delivery. Breastfeeding moms also have a reduced risk of breast, uterine, endometrial and ovarian cancer. And there’s a bonus: Breastfeeding may help new moms lose pregnancy weight faster!
While the benefits are numerous, there are some challenges that can come with breastfeeding. Moms may worry about producing enough milk. It takes time to feel comfortable with how feedings are going because you can’t measure or see what your baby is consuming, Middlesex Health’s Pregnancy & Birth Center says. Moms may also experience sore nipples, especially during those first few days, and breastfeeding can be more difficult than you think, which can lead to feelings of disappointment or discouragement.
But don’t worry. If you are trying to breastfeed for the first time, know that there is help available and that everyone’s experience is different. To help make the experience go more smoothly, there are a few things that you can do.
- Take a breastfeeding class during pregnancy to learn basic skills and the expectations of breastfeeding in the first few days. This may help you identify any potential barriers to breastfeeding that can be addressed before your delivery.
- Establish a good support system. This is essential to making breastfeeding easier.
- Get a good latch early. This builds a solid foundation for breastfeeding.
- Be patient, ask for help and remember that you are not alone!
- Know that exclusive pumping and providing expressed breast milk is also an option if you do not want to exclusively breastfeed.
How Middlesex helps moms
New moms may choose to exclusively breastfeed; both breastfeed and use formula; give expressed breast milk; or exclusively give their babies formula. Whatever decision a mom makes, Middlesex Health offers its support and help as needed.
To help moms who choose to breastfeed, Middlesex Health’s Pregnancy & Birth Center, located at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown:
- Holds weekly breastfeeding support group meetings, which have been held virtually throughout the pandemic
- Offers one-on-one lactation support with a lactation consultant in both inpatient and outpatient settings
- Shares information for both support group and outpatients online
- Offers donor milk to babies who are exclusively breastfed and have a medical need for supplementation
For more information about Middlesex Health’s Pregnancy & Birth Center, click here.
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