Common Breastfeeding Questions Answered
Dr. Courtney Sauls with Ascension St. John Medical Center answered the following questions about breastfeeding.
Q: What do infants gain from being breastfed?
A: Infants get a lot of benefits from breastfeeding. Breast milk is tailored nutrition to each individual baby and mom dyad. Breast milk provides antibodies and multiple immune complexes to boost a baby’s immune system. It also supplies a baby’s body with good gut bacteria for healthy growth and digestion and helps reduce the risk of multiple illnesses like ear infections, asthma, eczema and obesity.
Q: What benefits do moms get from breastfeeding their babies?
A: Women who breastfeed recover from childbirth more quickly and easily. It increases oxytocin, a bonding hormone. It also provides benefits of decreased breast and ovarian cancer rates. Some studies have shown that breastfeeding decreases cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Q: What is the recommended amount of time that infants should be breastfed? Do infants benefit from a shorter amount of time?
A: The American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC recommend breastfeeding to a goal of one year, and the World Health Organization recommends until age 2 or longer if desired.
However, there are benefits to breastfeeding in shorter amounts of time or even if a baby gets a breast milk and formula combination.
Q: Can infants be given formula as well as breast milk?
A: Infants can be given both formula and breast milk at the same time. This is often the reality for a lot of baby and mother dyads. Formula can also be a helpful tool if a baby has a metabolic illness, jaundice or low blood sugar.
Q: How do you know if your baby is getting enough milk?
A: In the early days of an infant’s life, they will have several pediatrician appointments where their weight will be measured. A good indication that a baby is getting enough breast milk is if they are gaining weight (usually one ounce per day on average) and if they are making several wet and dirty diapers per day.
Q: What are the top tips you can give a new mom for successful breastfeeding?
A: Advice I would give, having nursed two children myself, is get help early if you are struggling or having pain. Your pediatrician and a lactation consultant can be great resources to troubleshoot. Breastfeeding can often be challenging both physically and emotionally and is sometimes very hard for mothers to achieve. Regardless of if a mother can breastfeed, formula feed, or a combination of both, they should feel supported in their journey by their medical team and should know that they are strong and worthy of compassion.