Breast is Best:

Education and support are essential to success in breastfeeding.

All mothers want the best for their babies whether it’s the best crib, the best pediatrician or the best childcare. When it comes to the best nutrition, the answer is easy: breast milk.

With breast milk there is no need to read labels, compare nutrition information or worry about additives. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breast milk provides “all the protein, sugar, fat and vitamins your baby needs to be healthy” plus it “protects against certain diseases and infections.”

Breast fed babies are less likely to experience ear infections, allergies, vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia, wheezing, bronchiolitis, and meningitis. Additionally, breastfeeding has health benefits for the nursing mother. According to the AAP website it:

  • Burns calories and helps mothers get back to pre-pregnancy weight more quickly
  • Reduces risk of ovarian cancer and, in pre-menopausal women, breast cancer
  • Builds bone strength to protect against bone fractures in older age
  • Delays return of menses, which may extend the time between pregnancies (it will not alone prevent pregnancy)
  • Helps the uterus return to normal size more quickly

But, while nursing a baby is simple (no bottles to wash, formula to buy, etc.) it isn’t always easy, especially in the early weeks. Education and support are essential to success in breastfeeding.

“New moms are very vulnerable and start to doubt themselves,” says Carol Monlux, coordinator of Women’s Services at Saint John’s Medical Center and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. With education, mothers are ready for these sensitive times and know what to expect and how to handle the changes.

Growth Spurts

“Babies go through growth spurts,” says Monlux. “The first one occurs between the fifth and tenth day of life. Babies cry a lot and mom worries that she is not producing enough milk.” According to Monlux, the baby’s growth spurt prompts the baby to want to nurse more, thus signaling the mother’s body to produce more milk. Another growth spurt occurs between two and three weeks. By now the breasts have softened and aren’t as full as they were in the early weeks. Again mothers may think they aren’t producing adequate milk.


Monlux says that many mothers give up due to painful nipples. “The first seven to ten days the nipples may be tender, but should never be painful,” says Monlux. “Painful nipples indicate that baby is not positioned properly at the breast or that they are not latching on correctly.”


Problems can occur when well-meaning friends or family encourage the nursing mom to put the baby on a feeding schedule. “Babies need to be fed when the baby wants to be fed,” says Monlux. “Baby will give cues as to when they are ready to nurse. If you don’t feed them when they show the cues, they will begin to cry and get upset.

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. On the AAP Web site they advise, “Let your baby feed on demand — that is, whenever he is hungry. Watch for different signals from your baby, rather than the clock to decide when to nurse. When your baby is hungry, he may do any of the following:

  • Nuzzle against your breast
  • Show the rooting reflex
  • Make sucking motions or put hand to mouth
  • Cry

“Newborn babies need to eat eight to twelve times a day,” says Monlux. “People don’t realize that a newborn’s stomach is the size of a marble.”

Is He Getting Enough?

New mothers can also become anxious because, unlike with a bottle, they can’t see how much milk their baby is ingesting. According to Monlux mothers should be reassured when they hear baby swallowing as he nurses and when he produces six to eight wet diapers a day.

Getting Help

If mothers are anxious about any aspect of breastfeeding there are resources available to help. Saint John’s Breastfeeding Center offers free assistance. Babies can be weighed prior to feeding and right after feeding to find out exactly how much milk has been ingested. Guidance is also given on positioning, returning to work, pumping milk and other concerns.

La Leche League International is also a wonderful resource with all aspects of breastfeeding. La Leche League Leaders are experienced mothers who have breastfed their own babies and who have been trained and accredited by La Leche League International. Those interested in nursing or needing assistance can attend meetings or simply call for information and support.

“Usually mom is doing fine and just needs reassurance,” says Monlux.

To make an appointment at Saint John’s Breastfeeding Center call 744-2681.

Tulsa area La Leche Leaders can be contacted by phone or e-mail:




Contact info not found on LLLofTulsa website

Contact info not found on LLLofTulsa website

Categories: Infant/Pre-School, Little Ones