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BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING
We don’t want to pressure everyone to nurse. We just want you to be aware of the benefits. Breast milk contains antibodies that can’t be engineered. “Breastfed babies get fewer colds and sinus and ear infections,” says Jim Sears, MD, coauthor of The Baby Book. They also have less diarrhea and constipation and a decreased chance of having allergies.
Over the long term, breastfeeding helps ward off breast and ovarian cancers. In the short term, the physical contact helps you bond with your baby. It forces you to sit still and focus on nurturing. As Rachael Don, a mother of three in Scottsdale, Arizona, puts it, “Nursing is the one time that your baby is totally content and there’s nothing else you should be doing.” Dr. Sears says that breastfeeding releases “mothering hormones” like prolactin, which helps keep the baby blues at bay, and oxytocin, which helps the uterus contract. Oh, and it burns calories to boot!
“Consider a breastfeeding class while you’re pregnant,” says Melissa Kotlen Nagin, a lactation consultant in Larchmont, New York. But also be prepared to seek help once baby arrives. “Getting baby to latch on may not feel natural,” Nagin says. “Ask for help in the hospital.”
We’re not going to lie. Those first days, you might feel what experts call extreme tenderness — and what we call pain. But once your baby is properly latched, discomfort should diminish during each nursing session and go away completely with time. Don’t ignore shooting pain; a knot in the breast accompanied by soreness and redness could be a plugged milk duct, which can lead to mastitis, a nasty infection that requires antibiotics.
Ninety percent of moms who contact La Leche League are worried about either latch or supply. Fortunately, lactation consultants make house calls, hospitals host clinics, and the Web offers many resources. My daughter’s pediatrician simply showed me how to adjust my child’s chin to improve her lazy suck.
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