Tales from the hospital newborn rounds… how to educate about breastfeeding?
I love breastfeeding questions. I helped educate both medical students and new mothers this week about breastfeeding while on newborn hospital rounds. Here are some of the questions (and answers!)…
What do you have to do to be successful at breastfeeding? You need to be a woman with breasts (every mother is included in this), you have to want to breastfeed, and you have to try to breastfeed (every 3 hours) or more often, as baby wants.
How long to “try”? Your milk should “come in” by day 3 to 5 postpartum. By 2 weeks the baby and mother should know what to do. There are some women who do not make milk either because of lack of production or altered breast anatomy (inverted nipples make latching difficult and previous breast surgery may also impact milk ducts).
What are the benefits to breastmilk?
- Maternal benefits: decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, decreased type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, decreased postpartum depression
- Infant benefits: decreased eczema and gastroenteritis, higher IQ (no kidding!) later in life, decreased risk of childhood leukemia, decreased risk of obesity both as a child and as an adult, decreased SIDS, reduced risk of almost every kind of infection (intestinal, ear infection, lung infection, pneumonia) and less risk of asthma.
How long to breastfeed? All major health organizations recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, then complimentary foods can be introduced with continued breastfeeding until 12 months of age. But, I tell mothers, any amount of breastmilk is better than less. So, if you can breastfeed for the first 6 weeks (before returning to school or work) that’s better than 5 weeks. And, now, breast pumps are often free which helps mothers express their breastmilk when they are not with baby. Start breastfeeding and see how it goes…
I hope this helps.