August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month!
That’s right! August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month! At SWHC, we’re here to help answer your questions, help you understand the benefits of breast milk (for both mothers and babies), and provide the support and assistance you need.
Keep reading to learn more!
Fast Facts About Breastfeeding
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk as the sole source of nutrition for all babies under 6 months of age!
- More women than ever before are choosing to breastfeed
- The US Department of Health has set a goal of having 80% of women breastfeed by 2020 to improve our country’s overall health!
- If you post on social media about your breastfeeding experiences, use the hashtag #NBM16
How Does Breast Milk Help Your Baby?
Breastfeeding your baby has some amazing benefits for both you and your child!
Breast milk provides nearly ideal nutrition for a growing baby. It contains proteins, fats, and vitamins in the ideal ratios to help your child grow and thrive. Keep in mind though that breast milk isn’t particularly rich in Vitamin D, so ask your physician or nurse-midwife if you should consider adding a supplement to your child’s diet. In addition to amazing nutrition, breast milk is easy for newborns to digest. It really is a superfood!
Babies who are breastfed at a young age can see some absolutely amazing health benefits. There are studies showing a link between breastfeeding and:
- Increased IQ
- Healthier weight throughout childhood
- Decreased risk of SIDS, obesity, diabetes and some cancers
- Reduced rate of ear infections, allergies, asthma, and other common ailments
- Improved immune response to bacteria and viruses
Benefits for Mothers
The benefits of breastfeeding extend beyond your baby’s health and wellness. As a new mother, you’ll experience some great benefits, too!
Bonding & Closeness
Frequent eye contact and physical closeness with your child are among the best ways to strengthen the mother/child bond. Frequent breastfeeding is a great way to experience that closeness and bonding.
Yes, that’s right! You’ll see health benefits including:
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis
- Lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Lower incidence of menopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancers
- Reduced stress and less risk of postpartum depression
Improved Friendships & Sense of Community
If you meet with other new mothers and breastfeed together, you can cultivate lasting friendships, learn from one another, and really feel like you’re part of a larger community. It’s a great feeling and just part of why we offer our FREE Moms’ Group and separate Lactation Classes at SWHC.
How to Make Breastfeeding Part of Your Life
Many women start breastfeeding their children, but as many as 70% stop after 6 months— even though research shows the benefits extend well beyond that time. So how can new mothers make it a lasting habit?
- Plan – Make sure you have all the supplies you need, including pumps and bottles. Ask your employer about a space where you can pump or feed at the office. Create a place at home where you and your child can be together for feeding time.
- Relax – Don’t stress out. The more relaxed you are, the easier it will be for your baby to nurse.
- Watch – Keep an eye out for signs that your child is hungry. By breastfeeding at the first signs of hunger, your child will be easier to feed and will be happier, too!
- Be Consistent – Breastfeeding regularly will help you and your child stay in the habit and stimulate your milk production.
Frequently Asked Breastfeeding Questions
“How much breastmilk should my baby drink?”
Newborns should drink about 1-3 ounces of breastmilk every 2-3 hours. By the time they’re 2 months old, a baby should drink 4-5 ounces every 3-4 hours. It is healthy for them to eat frequently throughout the day!
“How long does it take to breastfeed?”
Most newborns will spend 10-15 minutes on each breast. Longer breastfeeding sessions (significantly longer than 30 minutes may indicate that your child is having trouble getting all the milk he or she needs).
“How do I know if my baby’s hungry?”
While you should remain on a regular breastfeeding schedule, it’s also important to recognize when your baby’s hungry. Keep an eye out for behaviors including:
- Tight fists
- Licking their lips
- Sucking their thumb
- Turning their head from side to side
It’s important to avoid waiting for your baby to cry. If he or she is crying it means they’re really hungry and anxious. This can lead to some of the common problems many mothers have when it comes to breastfeeding.
“Is it OK to breastfeed in public?”
Yes! Breastfeeding is natural and your baby needs to be fed on a regular schedule. You shouldn’t feel bad about breastfeeding outside of your home. Many women use a blanket for modesty, but you should never feel bad about providing your child with the nutrition he or she needs!
“I’m having a hard time breastfeeding. Is it worth it?”
Yes! There are so many benefits to breastfeeding that it’s definitely worth putting in extra effort to help your child breastfeed. Breastfeeding is 100% natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
At some point, many mothers have some trouble breastfeeding their baby. That’s why we’re here! As a Lactation Counselor at SWHC, I’m here to help you overcome any problems you’re having and can teach you the best techniques to make breastfeeding easy on you and your baby.
Contact a Lactation Counselor
Are you a new mother or are you expecting a baby soon? At Shenandoah Women’s Healthcare, we can help! If you have questions about breastfeeding, contact us or attend one of our upcoming lactation classes or Moms’ Group. We’d love to help you make breastfeeding part of your life!
Our lactation counselor, Rebecca Thompson, BS, CHES, CLC, is available for one on one appointments in our office, as well as leads the Moms’ Group and Lactation Classes. She is passionate about helping mothers feel proud and reach their goals, whatever those may be. She enjoys facilitating groups that empower and connect women.