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Topics > Healthy Outlook > Breast-Feeding Your Baby

Breast-Feeding Your Baby

Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Wed, Jun. 15, 2005

By Nancy Busby Hill, Registered Dietitian

BREAST-FEEDING YOUR baby can help him or her avoid obesity and other health problems as an adult.

New research indicates that health problems may be caused by events very early in life. With healthy approaches such as breast-feeding, we can reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood.

Breast-feeding, especially exclusive breast-feeding, has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, high cholesterol and asthma.

The American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Breast-feeding recommends exclusive breast-feeding for six months, and continued breast-feeding with appropriate solid foods for the rest of the first year and for as long after that as desired by mother and baby.

Mothers also benefit from breast-feeding, which helps the uterus to return to pre-pregnancy size and reduces the risk of excessive uterine bleeding.

Breast-feeding also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Exclusive breast-feeding can help the mother return to pre-pregnancy weight.

If you are pregnant and planning to breast-feed, attend a breast-feeding class before delivery to learn the basics. Take a tour of the hospital and find out how they support and assist breast-feeding moms.

Try to have a support person with you at delivery who will be sure to tell hospital staff that you want to breast-feed, so they won't give your baby a bottle.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Try breast-feeding as soon after delivery as possible. Most hospitals have a policy to help with this.
  • In the first week or two, your baby will want to eat frequently, eight to 12 times in 24 hours is normal.
  • Avoid bottles to prevent a preference for bottle nipple and the fast flow of a bottle. Sucking at a bottle nipple or a pacifier takes away time at the breast. The more you nurse, the more milk you will produce.
  • Watch for feeding cues, such as putting hands in the mouth, especially in the early days. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the mother and infant sleep close to each other. This allows the mother to become aware of feeding cues before the baby starts to cry vigorously, which is a late sign of hunger.

You will know that your newborn is getting enough to eat if he or she is producing three to four dirty diapers each day after the third or fourth day and is gaining weight.

If you are returning to work or school after the birth of your baby, keep these tips in mind. Arrange for as much time off as you can to get acquainted with your baby and get breast-feeding well established. Consider whether returning to work part time might be possible.

Before you deliver, tell your supervisor that you are planning to breast-feed and arrange for time and an appropriate place to express your breast milk.

California has the Lactation Accommodation Law that states that employers must provide break time (paid or unpaid) and a space (not a bathroom stall) for the expression of breast milk.

You will have questions after you get home with your new baby. Contra Costa Health Services has a toll-free line staffed by members of the Contra Costa Breast-feeding Task Force. Call 866-878-7767 to leave a message. Your call will be returned within 24 hours.

Nancy Busby Hill is a registered dietitian and breast-feeding specialist with Contra Costa Health Services' Public Health Division. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at theairdoctor@gmail.com. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.


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