More than 80% of babies begin life by receiving some breast milk, which is good news for both babies and their moms. Yet, while most new moms know breastfeeding is good, many don’t know why — or how nursing can help their babies get a healthy head start on life.
At Nevada Pediatric Specialists in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada, our team offers breastfeeding guidance during prenatal meet-and-greet appointments as well as at newborn visits. Here, we offer five important facts about breastfeeding that every new parent should know.
1. It’s true that “the breast is best”
That's a pretty common saying about breastfeeding, but what does it mean? Simply put, breast milk contains all of the nutrients your baby needs to thrive. In fact, breast milk is meant for babies, supplying proteins, fatty acids, and sugars necessary for healthy growth and development.
Breast milk also contains important antibodies that help your baby fight off illnesses and allergies. It’s also easy for your baby to digest, which means less spitting up, diarrhea, or other digestive issues for your new family member — and potentially less stress for you.
2. Nursing doesn’t always come naturally
Breastfeeding is a skill, and like any other skill, it takes practice. In fact, for some moms, it can be quite challenging.
It’s important to understand that initial difficulties are normal and not a sign that you’re unable to nurse. The key is to find support right away with a lactation specialist and to continue to seek help and support while you and your baby adjust.
3. Frequent feedings are normal
Newborns often want to nurse frequently in the days and weeks following birth. While it might seem like you’re almost always breastfeeding, it’s important to know that this phase soon subsides, and your baby will want to nurse at more regular — and wider-spaced — intervals.
Remember, your newborn’s tummy is very tiny, and it can’t take in much at one feeding. Plus, babies’ digestive systems are also new and adjusting to a new food. Be patient, nurse when your baby feels the need, and remember that your baby is forming a trusting bond with you that can last a lifetime.
4. Nurse as soon after birth as possible
Ideally, try to nurse within an hour after birth — the period sometimes referred to as the golden hour. Early skin-to-skin contact helps establish that deep bond with your child, and it also helps stimulate milk production.
This is when your body produces the first milk, called colostrum, a nutrient-rich liquid that contains lots of proteins and nutrients essential for a strong immune system and a healthy gut microbiome. Soon after birth, your baby is often more alert and ready for a meal, which means it could be easier to nurse.
5. Understand the emotional benefits of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding requires close, skin-to-skin contact between you and your child, providing deep emotional benefits for both of you. The natural cuddling positions you use during breastfeeding promote comfort and security for your baby and contentment and relaxation for you both.
Breastfeeding can play an important role in your child’s life and your life, too. To learn more about breastfeeding, including where to find lactation support, call 702-457-5437 or book an appointment online with Nevada Pediatric Specialists today.