Pediatric Specialists of Plano

Information parents need about breastfeeding and breast milk

As a baby’s due date approaches, the mother begins to think about how to feed her baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life. Breast milk provides several benefits for infants, and nursing also benefits mothers. Our Plano pediatricians are always happy to discuss parents’ questions and concerns about feeding time.

Breastfeeding and breast milk provide benefits to mothers and babies

Breastfeeding helps mothers in many ways after they give birth. Nursing offers the following benefits.

  • Triggers women’s bodies to release oxytocin, the hormone that helps the uterus contract after birth
  • Burns more calories, making it easier to lose pregnancy weight
  • May reduce women’s risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer

Breast milk provides even more advantages for babies.

  • Provides all the nutrients babies need
  • Changes over time to meet babies’ nutritional needs
  • Easier for infants and babies to digest
  • Contains antibodies that protect babies from certain illnesses and infections

Getting off to a good start

Mothers usually begin feeding babies soon after giving birth. Nurses and lactation consultants help new moms learn to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is a natural process, but new moms benefit from advice and help when they are starting out. It’s useful to have an experienced person there to answer questions and help mothers with getting the baby to latch on to the breast.

Babies set the schedule

Parents worry about how they will know when to feed their infants. Our Plano pediatricians are always here to offer advice. Here are some tips that may help.

  • Babies give signals when they are hungry, such as mouthing their hands, closing their fists, looking awake and crying.
  • During the first few weeks of life, most babies eat every two to three hours.
  • Infants are individuals, and so are their feeding needs. Some babies nurse for longer or nurse more frequently.

Nutrition and lifestyle concerns while nursing

Breast milk is a healthy source of nutrition that comes directly from moms, so mothers need to understand their nutritional needs. Nursing women need to get an extra 450 to 500 calories per day, which is about 2,500 calories. Moms should also continue to take their prenatal vitamins. Here are some things mothers should avoid while nursing.

  • Fish that contains high levels of mercury, such as swordfish or king mackerel
  • Excessive amounts of caffeine
  • More than two alcoholic drinks per day (Wait at least two hours after having a single drink to breastfeed)
  • Certain medications
  • Smoking
  • Illegal drugs or prescription medications that are not prescribed by physicians

Breastfeeding is a wonderful form of nutrition for babies, but not all mothers are able to nurse. Thankfully, formula feeding also provides excellent nutrition and nourishment for babies, so there’s no need to worry. Contact our Plano pediatricians to learn more about feeding time.