Breastfeeding: The Best Option for Baby and for Mom
Did you know that babies who breastfeed are less likely to become overweight? Or that moms who breastfeed their babies get back to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner? Those are just two of the many benefits that breastfeeding brings to infants and moms alike. Now during Breastfeeding Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to learn more about those benefits and what you can do to ensure success in breastfeeding your baby.
Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby for the first six months, and in conjunction with solid food for at least the first year. With its variety of unique sugars, prebiotics and nutrients, breast milk is uniquely tailored to a baby’s health needs, providing immunity-boosting benefits and helping to reduce the risks of:
- Childhood obesity
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- Ear and respiratory infections
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- Gastrointestinal infections
- Death of intestinal tissue in preemies
- Lymphoma, leukemia and Hodgkins disease
But that’s just half the story …
Breastfeeding Benefits for Moms
According to the Centers for Disease Control, breastfeeding can reduce the risk of some short- and long-term health conditions for nursing mothers, including:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce postpartum bleeding and increase the time before a woman can become pregnant again.
Elizabeth J. Pronesti, M.D., an obstetrician with the St. Clair Medical Services practice Zubritzky & Christy OB/GYN Associates, says: “Breastfeeding is one of the best things a new mom can do for her baby. Breastfeeding has countless health benefits for both moms and babies, and is a great way of bonding with your newborn. As obstetricians, we are excited to talk about breastfeeding during pregnancy and help with any questions or concerns about breastfeeding after delivery.”
Improving Your Odds of Success
Even though it’s one of the most natural acts in the world, breastfeeding can have its challenges. Following are tips to help you get off to a great start and stay committed:
- Ask for advice on day one
Maternity nurses or lactation consultants are great resources the first time you breastfeed your baby. They can help you find the best positions, show you when baby is latching on properly, and offer tips on comfort during and after feeding.
- “Listen” to your baby
Your baby will tell you when he or she is hungry. You’ll notice signs like restlessness, sucking motions and lip movement. Typically, newborns will feed every two to three hours and will stop once they’re satisfied.
- Keep your baby in your room
Your baby is going to want to eat every two to three hours for the first few weeks, and at some point during the night for the first six months. Having your baby sleep nearby in a crib or bassinet makes feedings easier and safer.
- Wait to use a pacifier
For a baby, there’s a big difference between a pacifier and the real thing, and using a pacifier too soon can interfere with breastfeeding. Wait until your baby has been breastfeeding for three or four weeks before introducing a pacifier.
- Get a feel for success
When your baby is properly latched on, you’ll know it. You’ll feel a gentle pulling sensation rather than a pinch. You’ll know that feeding was successful if your breast feels softer afterwards.
- Be sure to take care of you, too
Naturally, breastfeeding can lead to some soreness. Allowing milk to dry on your nipples can have a soothing effect. But if you have to clean up in a hurry, pat your nipples dry rather than rubbing. And if your breasts leak between feedings, use bra pads and change them often.
- Lead a healthy lifestyle
Drink plenty of fluids (but go easy on the caffeine), eat a healthy diet, get your rest, don’t smoke (and keep baby away from secondhand smoke, which increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and if you need to take medications, check with your doctor to make sure they’re safe for breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Experts are Nearby
During your pregnancy and right after delivery, the Lactation Center at St. Clair Hospital offers breastfeeding classes, private consultation, complimentary bra fittings and an array of breastfeeding supplies to help make your experience a success. To make an appointment or register for classes, call 412.942.5875. You and your baby will be glad you did.
Elizabeth J. Pronesti, M.D. is the newest physician to join St. Clair Medical Services practice Zubritzky & Christy OB/GYN Associates. She specializes in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Pronesti earned her undergraduate degree in neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh and her medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She completed her residency training in obstetrics and gynecology at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, where she served as administrative chief resident. As a resident, Dr. Pronesti earned awards for excellence in high-risk obstetrics, female pelvic medicine, and laparoscopic surgery. Dr. Pronesti entered the field of obstetrics and gynecology to be an advocate for women and to form a long-term relationship with her patients. She believes it is a privilege to care for women from puberty through menopause. And that it is a tremendous honor to support women throughout their pregnancy, and to be a part of their delivery and postpartum care. Dr. Pronesti is well trained in gynecologic surgery, including minimally invasive techniques. A Pittsburgh native and a graduate of Chartiers Valley High School, she is excited to be caring for women in the community she calls home.
American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Breastfeeding/Pages/Benefits-of-Breastfeeding.aspx
Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/index.htm
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: https://www.asbmb.org/healthobservance/breastfeedingawareness/