Need help with breastfeeding?
Contact the National Breastfeeding Helpline at 1-800-994-9662 for answers to breastfeeding questions. Additionally, support groups like La Leche League can answer questions over the phone and they also offer free breastfeeding support group meetings at several locations throughout Westchester.
Breastfeeding is one of the best things a mother can do to give her baby a healthy start in life. Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients needed to help a newborn grow and develop. It also contains antibodies that provide protection from a variety of infections. As an added bonus, breastfeeding has many benefits for mom too!
At baby’s very first nursing, he or she begins to receive all of the benefits that breastfeeding has to offer. The first milk that mom produces is a thick, yellow substance called colostrum. Although the baby will only get a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it will meet all of his or her nutritional needs and help the newborn’s digestive tract develop.
Between the third and fifth day of breastfeeding, mom’s colostrum will change into mature milk. Mom will continue to produce mature milk until she stops breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, followed by continued breastfeeding as solid foods are introduced until at least 12 months of age, or for as long as mutually desired by mother and baby.
The protection that breast milk affords baby is unique. The cells, hormones and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. Babies who receive their mother’s milk:
- Have fewer ear infections, respiratory infections and digestive infection;
- Have a lower risk of developing diabetes or cancer;
- Have a lower risk of developing asthma and allergies;
- Are less likely to be obese later in life; and
- Are less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The advantages that breastfeeding provides mom are not to be overlooked either. Women that breastfeed their infants:
- Have a faster recovery after birth and tend to lose pregnancy weight faster;
- Are less likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease;
- Reduce their risk for breast and ovarian cancer;
- Have lower stress levels and lower risk of postpartum depression;
- Are more likely to have enhanced emotional health due to the bond created by the physical closeness between mom and baby, skin-to-skin touching, and eye contact that is shared during breastfeeding;
- Save time because breast milk is always ready and there is no need to wash, prepare, or sterilize bottles; and
- Can save money as there is no formula to buy.
Like all new skills, breastfeeding may take some time and practice to master. There are lots of resources available to help new mom’s learn how to breastfeed. Nurses and/or lactation consultants are available at the hospital to assist both mom and baby with breastfeeding.
At home, families can contact the National Breastfeeding Helpline at 1-800-994-9662 for answers to breastfeeding questions. Additionally, support groups like La Leche League can answer questions over the phone and they also offer free breastfeeding support group meetings at several locations throughout Westchester.
Clients that participate in the Health Department’s WIC Nutrition Services Program can seek breastfeeding support and guidance from the Program’s nutritionists who are Certified Lactation Counselor’s (CLC). In addition, breast pumps are available for WIC eligible breastfeeding women based on a breastfeeding assessment.
For more information, there are many good websites and online publications to assist breastfeeding moms. Listed below are just a few!
- CDC Breastfeeding Pages
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Breastfeeding Partners
- Your Guide to Breastfeeding - Publications available in English, Spanish, and Chinese
- Breastfeeding FAQ's: Your Eating and Drinking Habits (kidshealth.org)
- Breast Pumps: Don't Be Misled - Get The Facts (FDA)
- Safely Storing Breast Milk (kidshealth.org)
- Common Breast Feeding Challenges: sore nipples, engorgment, plugged ducts, etc. (Medline)
- Breastfeeding Fact Sheet