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Keys to Successful Breastfeeding

  • Nurse frequently, averaging about eight to twelve times in a 24-hour period.  (A sleepy baby may need to be awakened to nurse.)
  • Aim for at least ten minutes of nursing per breast.  If baby falls asleep after one side, don't worry; just start the next feeding on the other breast.
  • Proper positioning is important.  Make sure baby is turned toward you (tummy to tummy) and pulled in close.  Baby's nose and chin should be touching the breast.  Baby's body should be level with the breast; pillows can be helpful.
  • In order to nurse efficiently, baby's lips should be on the areola (dark area surrounding the nipple), well behind the nipple.
  • Wait at least three weeks to introduce bottles.  Too many bottles too early will lead to a decreased interest in nursing and a decreased milk supply.
  • Allow nipples to air-dry 10 to 15 minutes after a feeding.  Breast milk is healing to nipples.  If nipple soreness develops, pure lanolin can be soothing and aid in healing.
  • After your milk comes in (about three days after delivery), baby should have at least six wet diapers and one bowel movement in a 24-hour period.  After the first month, baby may go several days without a bowel movement.
  • When your milk comes in, your breasts may feel painful and overfull.  This is a temporary condition called engorgement that will subside within 24 to 48 hours.  Nurse frequently during this period and use either ice packs or heat on the breast for comfort.

Breastfeeding Does Make a Difference

  • Colostrum, the milk produced by mothers in the first few days after giving birth, is baby's first immunization against infections and diseases.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop respiratory and ear infections.
  • Food allergies are less common and less severe in breastfed babies.
  • Children who are breastfed for at least four months have reduced rates of chilhood cancer, diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.
  • Women who breastfed have a decreased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight.
  • A study showed that children who were born prematurely and fed breast milk as infants later scored higher on IQ tests than their formula-fed counterparts.


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