at Mason General Hospital
Is Breastfeeding for You?
One of the most important decisions you will be making is how to feed your baby. Here are some facts and information to help you make an informed and thoughtful choice.
- Nationally, over 75% of mothers and babies leave the hospital breastfeeding. In the Pacific Northwest, the numbers are closer to 85%.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF all recommend and endorse breastfeeding as the best way to feed newborns and infants.
- It is possible to breastfeed and be a working mother, breastfeed and maintain your modesty in public, breastfeed and still have the baby's father actively involved in parenting, and breastfeed and get your figure back. At Mason General Hospital & Family of Clinics, we can teach you about all of these options.
- You'll save over $120 a month, including formula and equipment costs.
- You do not have to be on a special diet for breastfeeding. You do want to make sure you drink lots of non-caffeinated fluids every day. The foods you eat will flavor your milk. Research has shown that babies enjoy the taste of garlic, and that breastfed babies are more apt to adjust to new foods in their diets because they have tasted these foods before in their mother's milk.
- Most mothers who breastfeed longer than several months find regaining their figure and ideal weight is easier than it is for mothers who formula-feed.
- Breast milk is the perfect food for human newborns, and it can not be artificially manufactured. Breast milk contains hundreds of nutrients, immune factors and antibodies to infection, hormones and growth factors. The Infant Formula Act passed in 1980 specifies just over 40 of the components in breast milk that need to be in infant formula.
- The antibodies and anti-infectives found in breast milk protect breastfed babies from illness
Some Health Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby
- Greatly reduced incidence of vomiting and diarrhea.
- Reduced respiratory and ear infections.
- Reduced incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Higher cognitive (intelligence) test scores.
- Reduced incidence of severe allergies and asthma.
- If breastfed longer than 6 months, reduced incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes and childhood lymphomas.
Some Benefits for the Breastfeeding Mother
- Reduced incidence of premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer (the more months of breastfeeding in life, the lower the risk).
- Reduced risk of heavy postpartum bleeding or hemorrhage.
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis.
While in the Hospital
Mason General Hospital nursing staff will help you and your baby learn how to breastfeed. For some babies it is easy. Others struggle at first, but it is very rare for a baby and mother to not be able to learn how to work together for successful breastfeeding.
Some common issues we can help you with are: working with flat or inverted nipples, getting a good "latch" to reduce or eliminate nipple soreness, and learning feeding cues and cues that tell you the baby is satisfied. We can give you phone numbers and referrals for help and advice after discharge from hospital. Several of our nursing staff are certified lactation consultants. We want to be a source of support for you as you encounter well-meaning but conflicting advice from friends and family, or have questions such as "is the baby getting enough?"
If you choose to formula-feed, please know that we will support you in your choice and will help you with questions and concerns you may have about feeding your baby. If you are "on the fence" with your decision, you might just try breastfeeding. Even a short time can give the baby some extra immune factors, and it is easier to stop nursing than to wish you had started.