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Should I breastfeed my baby?

  • When you breastfeed long-term, the benefits to your baby last for years.
  • Frequent feedings, adequate rest, good nutrition and drinking enough fluids can help you maintain a good milk supply.

As a new parent, you have many important decisions to make. One is choosing whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby.

Breastfeeding is the healthier option for both mom and baby. Whenever possible, I recommend that babies receive only breast milk for the first six months and continue to have breast milk as a main part of their diet until they are at least 1 to 2 years old.

Some families decide to breastfeed exclusively.  Others use both breast milk and formula. The following information will help understand your options:

Breastfeeding gives your baby the healthiest start

Breast milk contains antibodies, nutrients and growth factors. When you breastfeed long-term, the benefits to your baby last for years. These benefits include decreased risk of childhood cancers, obesity and diabetes. 

Breastfeeding can help you recover more quickly

The hormones you release in the early days and weeks of breastfeeding help you relax and bond with your baby. They also help your uterus return to its nonpregnant size more quickly, which can decrease your bleeding. Some of the many long-term benefits of breastfeeding are decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer and less heart disease later in life. 

Breastfeeding can save you money and help the environment

Formula can cost between $4-$10 per day. It takes more natural resources and more waste is created to produce formula.

Breastfeeding gets easier over time

Breastfeeding doesn’t always feel easy and natural. In the beginning, it can take some time for both mom and baby to get the hang of it. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have all the support you need if a problem does come up.

Skin-to-skin contact at birth helps your baby get off to a good start. If everyone is healthy and stable after the birth, ask your provider to put your baby on your chest to begin the bonding process as soon as possible. This contact is also a good way to calm and connect during your baby’s first days and weeks. Over time, you’ll find a rhythm and feedings will become more predictable. Once breastfeeding is going well you can begin to express your milk by hand or pump and have someone else help with feedings. 

What if I don’t make enough milk for my baby?

Almost all women produce enough milk; milk supply is based on your baby's demand. Frequent feedings, adequate rest, good nutrition and drinking enough fluids can help you maintain a good milk supply.  Some women may have medical reasons that can make it more difficult for them to make enough milk.  Talk to your baby’s doctor and a lactation consultant about your concerns.  Getting extra help from your health care team is important to understand when formula might be needed. 

You do not need to follow a special diet when you breastfeed.

It is rare that a baby will seem sensitive to certain foods. Speak with your baby's doctor if you think this could be the case.

In rare instances, your baby’s doctor may advise you not to breastfeed, if you.

  • are currently using alcohol or street drugs, which pass to your baby in your breast milk
  • are prescribed a medication that is a concern for your baby
  • have a serious health condition like HIV/AIDS.

 

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