It’s Natural, But Doesn’t Always Come Naturally
August Is National Breastfeeding Month
Whether you’re a first-time mom or an experienced mom, breastfeeding can be a different experience for everyone. Research shows that breastfeeding provides many health benefits for mothers and their babies, but it’s not always an easy experience. Jan Record, a registered nurse and international board-certified lactation consultant at Indiana University Health West Hospital, offers breastfeeding support for new and experienced moms.
“As your baby learns how to nurse, and as you both get into a routine, remember that patience is key,” Record says. “Some babies latch right away and others struggle in the beginning. Have patience and perseverance when beginning to breastfeed.”
Record and the lactation consultants at IU Health West Hospital meet moms and their new babies in the hospital after delivery. Her tips for breastfeeding success include:
• Breastfeed within the first hour of the baby’s life. After that, breastfeed whenever the baby shows signs of hunger or at least every three hours.
• Avoid using artificial nipples such as pacifiers and avoid feeding with water or formula, unless it’s advised by the doctor.
• Hold your baby directly on your skin. Skin-to-skin contact, starting immediately after birth, can help with breastfeeding and with stabilization of the baby’s heart rate, breathing and body temperature. Both mom and dad can hold the baby skin- to-skin, and doing so releases hormones that promote relaxation and bonding.
When asked what moms can do to prepare, Record says childbirth education classes help give you and your partner a better idea of what to expect. She also encourages breastfeeding support groups, which provide opportunities for moms to receive individual support from lactation specialists and meet other breastfeeding moms. Record and the team of lactation specialists at IU Health West Hospital lead a breastfeeding support group for moms with newborns and babies up to age one.
Breastfeeding has many benefits for babies and provides excellent nutrition such as proteins, vitamins and healthy fats. Breastmilk also contains disease-fighting substances which protect babies from illness. Babies aren’t the only ones who benefit from breastfeeding – moms do, too. Breastfeeding offers a routine that helps mothers bond with their baby, decreases postpartum depression, and it burns extra calories, helping lose pregnancy weight gain.