Women's Health

Women's Health

Breastfeeding your baby

There’s nothing quite like the closeness between a mom and a breastfeeding baby. Touch and cuddles are important to newborns. Physical contact helps babies feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Moms love the warmth and comfort too – and the chance to sit down and relax.

Breast milk gives your baby all the nourishment he or she needs for the first 6 months of life. Breast milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby, compared with formula which does not protect a baby from infections and other health problems.

If you’re planning to breastfeed your baby, take a breastfeeding class while you’re pregnant. You’ll have a head start on this deeply satisfying experience.

Benefits to your baby

Breastfeeding offers many benefits to help grow strong, healthy babies:

  • Antibodies in the milk can strengthen your baby’s immune system.
  • Lowers your baby’s risk for many types of infections, such as ear infections.
  • Fewer gastrointestinal illnesses (vomiting and diarrhea).
  • Breast milk is easier to digest than formula
  • Possibly lowers the risk of food allergies.
  • Possibly lowers the risk for diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, and eczema.
  • Reduces the risk of obesity later in infancy and during childhood.

Benefits to mom

Life can be easier and healthier when you breastfeed:

  • Helps strengthen the bond with your baby
  • Helps your body recover from the rigors of pregnancy and birth
  • Stimulates your body to release oxytocin, a hormone which helps your uterus more quickly return to its pre-pregnancy condition
  • Lowers your risk of developing certain health problems later on, such as breast cancer or diabetes
  • May make it easier to lose weight
  • Your baby’s food is always ready

Breast or bottle?

How you feed your baby is a personal choice. Every situation is different and not all mothers may find that breastfeeding is the right fit. Some women may feel guilty if they don’t breastfeed and worry they won’t bond with their babies. Don’t worry….you will connect with your baby whether feeding with breast milk or formula. Babies can also get good nutrition from bottle-feeding with formula.

Do what you feel is best for you and your baby, but consider your own thoughts and feelings in your decision.

A few things to consider:

  • Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby. It has almost all the nutrients your baby needs for the first 6 months of life.
  • Breast milk helps prevent many illnesses.
  • Breastfeeding helps your body recover from the stresses of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
  • Breastfeeding may lower your risks of breast cancer and diabetes later in life.

Breastfeeding after you return to work

You can continue to breastfeed your baby after you return to work.

Why work and pump?

  • You ensure a steady supply of milk to continue breastfeeding when you and your baby are together
  • Give your baby the best nutrition even when you’re not there
  • Miss less work because breastfed babies are sick less
  • Save money on formula

Lay the groundwork to pump at work

  • Talk with your employer. Share your breastfeeding plans and the benefits to you and your baby of continuing to breastfeed.
  • Delay your return, if possible. If you can, wait at least 4 to 6 weeks before returning to work. This helps ensure that your milk production is established. Try to return toward the end of the workweek.
  • Have a plan for pumping.
    • Locate where you can pump or breastfeed.
    • Know how and where you will store your breast milk.
    • Plan how frequently you will need to pump
    • To minimize your need to pump, breastfeed just before and after work.
    • Prepare your baby.
      • Show your baby how to drink from a bottle or a cup if your baby is older.
      • Have someone else offer your baby a bottle of breast milk.
      • Don’t force your baby to drink from the bottle. If he or she refuses, wait a couple of days and try again.
      • When your baby accepts a bottle, offer one every so often.
      • Give your baby a bottle more often starting about 7 to 10 days before you return to work.
      • Prepare yourself.
        • Plan to pump several times a day.
        • Stop pumping when you have a reasonable amount of milk or after about 20 minutes, whichever comes first.
        • If your supply is a little low, pump more often, even if only a little milk is coming out. This will tell your body that you need more milk. You’ll soon start producing more milk.

How to breastfeed

It’s good to learn the basics of breastfeeding to make sure you and your baby get the most out of the experience and so your baby gets a complete feeding …
Learn More About How to breastfeed >

Breastfeeding problems

If you experience any problems or have concerns, this is a good time to get help from a lactation consultant. You’ll receive the help you need to continue breastfeeding and …
Learn More About Breastfeeding problems >

Breast pumps

If you’re breastfeeding your baby, you may want to use a breast pump to collect your milk so your baby can have it when you’re not around or to have …
Learn More About Breast pumps >