Earlier, longer breastfeeding increases benefits for moms and babies

Earlier, longer breastfeeding increases benefits for moms and babies

Dr. Stan (Stan Cohen MD)

Is a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Center for Digestive Health Care / GI Care for Kids, whose books on nutrition for parents led him to start Nutrition4Kids with his co-founders.

Breastfeeding is a new skill for each baby and many moms, but once it starts, breastfeeding
provides many health benefits for both.
Breastfeeding until at least a baby's is 2 years old has long been recommended by the World Health
Organization (WHO), and now the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has echoed that guidance.

The reasons breastfeeding helps
Babies who breastfeed have
• Fewer ear infections
• Less diarrheal illnesses
• Fewer lung and bronchial illnesses
• Less sudden infant death (SIDS)
• Less diabetes and obesity
• Fewer rashes (atopic dermatitis)

Moms who breastfeed decrease their chances of
• Breast and ovarian cancer
• Diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease

Showing that breastmilk (human milk) isn't just a food but it has lots of additional immune and health
benefits. And those benefits continue for as long as the mother breastfeeds.
But breastfeeding isn't possible for everyone, especially those who have jobs where it's difficult to pump
and store their milk. And it isn't recommended for those who have severe infections like HIV or those on
medicines like opiods, though sometimes mothers on opiods during their pregnancy are asked to
breastfeed during the first few days to help their babies through a withdrawal period.

Early, frequent breastfeeding helps to make it successful
The other obstacle is that while breastfeeding is natural, it's often something babies and first-time
breastfeeding moms have to learn together. Especially when babies are having difficulty latching or
moms are engorged. They may not be able to release the milk or they release a large amount with a
rapid letdown.
Too many moms then stop breastfeeding in the first week because they don't get the support and
teaching they need. They've already left the hospital and don't know what to do and how to make sure
the baby is getting enough.

• It's a new skill for both mom and baby
• Early skin-to-skin feedings (and contact) seem to increase the ease of breastfeeding

• Babies often want to feed frequently and need to
• You can monitor the number of wet and dirty diapers to make sure your baby is getting what he
or she needs.
• Offering a bottle can be tricky. It can help the baby get immediate nutrition, but it often leads to
nipple confusion and decreased breastfeeding success.
• Your pediatrician can often help you establish a healthy breastfeeding routine. If they can't, they
can often recommend a lactation consultant or someone on their staff who's experienced.

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