Everything You Didn't Know About Breastfeeding

Everything You Didn't Know About Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding provides more than good nutrition for your baby. In addition to allowing a bonding experience, breastfeeding involves a series of physical reactions that affect both mother and baby.

With so much information available on breastfeeding, it can be confusing to determine whether it’s right for you and your baby. Our OB/GYNs and support staff at The Association for Women’s Health Care can help you understand what breastfeeding involves so you know your options. 

We provide the guidance and support you need to make a confident decision during pregnancy, so you can establish and maintain breastfeeding for as long as you choose.

Consider these facts about breastfeeding and the difference it can make for both you and your baby.

Breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of SIDS

Research indicates that breastfeeding for a minimum of two months can reduce your baby’s risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by almost half. The relationship between breastfeeding and SIDS prevention isn’t fully understood, but it appears that babies enjoy protection from SIDS even if they don’t breastfeed exclusively. 

In addition to reducing the risk of SIDS, breastfeeding also lessens your baby’s risk of the following conditions:

Breastfeeding promotes postpartum weight loss

If you’re breastfeeding exclusively, you likely spend more time eating and less time moving. Even so, mothers who breastfeed tend to lose their baby weight faster than women who don’t. 

You can burn an average of 500 additional calories every day while breastfeeding. In addition, nursing mothers are more likely to eat healthier diets while reducing their intake of sugar and processed foods. 

Studies indicate that mothers who breastfeed for at least three months are 6% more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy weight or lower than mothers who didn’t breastfeed exclusively.

Breastfeeding doesn’t require a drastic change in your diet

You can support postpartum recuperation and weight loss by eating a healthy diet, but you don’t have to follow a strict regimen to produce nutritious breast milk. Occasional sweets or a takeout meal won’t harm your breast milk. You can even resume drinking a limited amount of coffee if you wish.

Your body is designed to use your stores of nutrients to produce breast milk before you benefit from them. Ensure the quality of your breast milk and your own health by taking vitamin supplements while breastfeeding. 

You can even drink alcohol in moderation. Wait at least three hours after finishing your last drink before you breastfeed. If your baby’s scheduled feeding occurs during this time, you can maintain your milk supply by pumping at your scheduled feeding time and throwing away the alcohol-infused milk.

Breast milk varies with every feeding

Your breast milk provides optimal nutrition for all stages of your baby’s growth and development in their first two years of life and beyond. The composition of your breast milk changes as your baby grows and starts to include more foods in their diet.

In the first few days of your baby’s life, your breast milk contains colostrum, which includes all the protein, growth factors, white blood cells, and antibodies your baby needs to survive in their new environment. 

When your breast milk comes in three to five days post-delivery, it becomes transitional milk,  a combination of colostrum and mature milk that lasts for up to 14 days. Transitional milk contains higher levels of sugar, fat, and calories to help your baby regain some weight lost immediately after birth.

Mature milk appears within 10-15 days after birth. Mature milk is thinner and more watery than transitional milk. While it can look like skim milk at the beginning of the feeding, it contains fat that is released later in the session. 

Your body produces breast milk on a supply-and-demand basis. When growth spurts or illness make your baby nurse more frequently and for longer periods, your body responds by increasing your breast milk’s volume and fat content. 

Breast milk content even changes during the day, with more serotonin and other elements in nighttime breast milk to help your baby sleep.

Breastfeeding helps you stay healthy

Breastfeeding provides advantages for mothers as well as babies. In addition to promoting postpartum weight loss, breastfeeding also delivers the following benefits to new mothers:

Find out more about breastfeeding so you can feel confident about choosing how to feed your baby. Contact our Chicago or Northbrook, Illinois, office today to schedule a consultation.

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