Breastfeeding: An Extra Line of Defense

Feeding is a time to hold, communicate, and bond with your baby. When possible, women are encouraged to breastfeed rather than bottle feed their babies. Mother's milk provides all the nutrients that a baby needs to grow. Breastfed babies also get immunity from many early childhood diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and have much lower rates of ear and stomach infections, asthma, and other allergies. Breastfeeding provides an opportunity to strengthen the connection between mother and child. Breastfeeding may not come naturally to all new mothers, so don't be afraid to ask a health professional or an experienced mother for help.

Remember that when you breastfeed you're still eating for two, and that everything you put into your body goes into your baby's body too! It's still a good idea to avoid caffeine and alcohol while nursing, drink water instead. The more water you drink the easier your body will be able to produce milk for your baby. Make sure you continue to follow the healthy diet you followed during your pregnancy and focus on eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods that provide plenty of protein, calcium, and iron. Some women, especially working moms, choose to pump their milk and store it in the refrigerator. A bottle of mother's milk can be refrigerated up to a day, but do not keep it any longer because breast milk spoils quickly. Breastmilk can be safely frozen for up to six months. Always check with a doctor before taking any medications while you are nursing. Do not breastfeed if you are HIV positive or are abusing drugs or alcohol.

Feed your baby when she is hungry, day or night. Very young babies want and need to be fed often. You won't spoil her. You are just giving her what she needs to grow. You will know that you baby is well fed if she seems to be satisfied, sleeps well and gains weight. On average, most babies' weights will double in the first 6 months.

From Your Healthy Baby published by I am Your Child.

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