If you’re about to be a first time mom, you have many decisions to make, from nursery color schemes, to who you want with you in the delivery room, to the all important baby name. As you prepare for your baby to arrive, take some time to educate yourself on the benefits of breastfeeding. August is breastfeeding awareness month, which means now is the perfect time to learn how this parenting choice can benefit both you and your infant.
Benefits for Baby
- Optimal nutrition – Research shows that breast milk offers the highest quality nutritional benefits for your infant. Your breast milk will naturally contain all of the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months of development.
- Immune-boosting benefits – Breast milk naturally contains important disease-fighting substances that will help to build your baby’s immune system. Studies have shown that your baby will be at a reduced risk of stomach viruses, lower respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and meningitis if breastfed at least during the first six months. This protection comes from a substance called secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), which is present in the first milk your body produces for your baby.
- Reduced risk of allergies – Infants who are breastfed are at a reduced risk of developing allergies. In particular, babies who are fed a formula based on cow’s milk or soy tend to have more allergic reactions than those who are breastfed.
- Long-term protection – Studies show that breastfeeding may reduce your child’s risk of developing certain diseases later in life, including type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
- Like mother, like child – A woman’s breast milk is specifically tailored to meet the needs of her child. Our bodies produce IgA in response to specific pathogens that we are exposed to throughout our lives, and those lgAs will be passed on to your baby during breastfeeding, offering optimal protection from those pathogens to which you have been exposed.
- Better brain food – A study of more than 17,000 infants found that children who had been breastfed showed enhanced cognitive development, as determined by their IQ scores and other intelligence tests, over those who were fed formula.
- Reduced risk of obesity – Breastfeeding may help your baby to develop healthy eating habits from infancy that will protect him/her from developing an unhealthy weight later in life. Breastfed babies learn to eat until their hunger is satisfied, and tend to carry this healthy habit into adolescence. In addition, compared to formula, breast milk contains less insulin, which stimulates the creation of fat.
Benefits for Mom
- Mental health – Breastfeeding can reduce a new mother’s stress level and her risk of postpartum depression. The National Institutes of Health reviewed more than 9,000 study abstracts and concluded that women who did not breastfeed or who stopped breastfeeding early were at a higher risk of postpartum depression. Breastfeeding also releases the hormone oxytocin, which stimulates feelings of relaxation.
- Emotional bonding – The emotional bonding between mom and baby that occurs during breastfeeding is an important part of both the baby’s emotional development, and your connection with one another.
- Long-term protection – Numerous studies have found that the longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer.
- Assists in weight loss – While you’re pregnant, your body automatically layers on extra fatty tissue so you’ll have enough fat stores to begin and support breastfeeding. It’s true that breastfeeding can help you lose your pregnancy weight naturally without compromising either your health or your baby’s (considering you are eating healthy). Your body will burn calories to make breast milk.
If you have questions about breastfeeding, or if you are still deciding if it is the right choice for you and your baby, contact your OBGYN today to discuss your options. The doctors at Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello MD are dedicated to helping you and your baby achieve optimal health.
Whether you are a first time mom, or are realizing that each child develops differently, a woman can experience difficulties breastfeeding at any time. Though breastfeeding is a natural process and is one that is best for both you and your baby, do not be frustrated or disappointed if it does not seem to come easily. What follows is a list of six of the most common breastfeeding issues and tips for overcoming each one.
Latching pain – Nipple discomfort is common when a woman first begins to breastfeed, especially for new mothers. If pain lasts more than the first minute after your baby latches, however, check your positioning. The optimal position is for the baby’s mouth to cover more of the areola below your nipple than above. When correctly positioned, baby’s chin and nose should touch your breast with his lips splayed out so that you cannot see your nipple.
Clogged ducts – The ducts of your nipples may clog if your breast milk is not completely draining after nursing. If your ducts are clogged, you may feel a hard lump on your breast, or your breast may be sore to the touch. If you begin to feel feverish and achy, you could have an infection, and should see your doctor. To help your body to clear the blockage, be sure to get enough rest, apply warm compresses to your breasts, and massage them to stimulate milk movement.
Thrush – This is a yeast infection in your baby’s mouth, which can spread to your breasts. Symptoms include itchiness, soreness, and rash. You will need an antifungal medication for both your nipples and your baby’s mouth to treat the infection.
Cracked nipples – If you find that your nipples are producing a bloody discharge during breastfeeding or pumping, know that it will not harm your baby. Cracked nipples could be caused by latching problems, improper breast pumping, dry skin, or thrush. To lower your risk for developing cracked nipples, check your baby’s positioning. You may also want to try breastfeeding more frequently but for shorter periods of time. Until your skin heals, treat your skin with clean water or an over-the-counter lanolin cream made especially for nursing mothers.
High milk supply – Also known as engorgement, having a high supply of breast milk could make it difficult for baby to latch to the breast. To help your baby latch, first try hand-expressing some milk to begin the flow and soften the breast. Breastfeeding more frequently may also help keep milk levels in check.
Mastitis – This bacterial infection in your breasts can be caused by cracked skin, clogged ducts, or engorgement. Mastitis causes pain and flu-like symptoms, including fever. Antibiotics will be needed to treat the infection. Also try applying a hot compress to the breast and empty your milk supply frequently.
If you experience any of these conditions or issues while breastfeeding, speak to your OBGYN. Breastfeeding should offer an important emotional bonding opportunity for you and your baby and should not be a cause of stress, discomfort, or health risk. For more on this topic, please visit the breastfeeding section on the patient education part of our website or check out these breastfeeding resources in Western New York.
If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, the topic of breastfeeding has probably come up. Maybe you’re determined to do it, maybe the thought makes you nervous or uncomfortable. In honor of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we’d like to share the following information about what breast milk provides to help you make—or feel good about—your decision:
Better Nutrition: Science cannot replicate everything that makes breast milk the ideal food for infants. The vitamins and nutrients in a mother’s breast milk are easier for babies to digest, and it has the perfect amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates required by your baby. Best of all, the composition of your breast milk changes as your baby grows, providing him or her with specific developmental and nutritional needs.
Better Health: Colostrum, the first milk, has high concentrations of antibodies that help protect the mucous membranes in the throat, lungs, and intestines of your newborn. And breastfed kids are less likely to contract childhood diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and cancer before the age of 15. Breastfeeding can protect your child from asthma, bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea and urinary tract infections, and breast-fed children have a decreased risk of tooth decay.
Boosted Brain Function: According to recent research, young children who were breastfed as infants scored higher on intelligence tests. Breastfeeding can increase a baby’s brain growth by 20 to 30 percent. The longer and more exclusively children are breastfed, the more intelligent they will become later in life.
Bonding: Breastfeeding and the closeness and comfort that come along with it can strengthen the bond between a mother and her baby. Physical contact is important to babies, as it helps them feel warm and safe. And the skin-to-skin contact boosts the mother’s oxytocin levels—oxytocin is a hormone that helps breast milk flow and can calm the mother.
Better Health for Mom, Too: It’s been proven that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and anemia in mother, and it helps you lose your pregnancy weight.
Still not convinced? You can at least think about giving breastfeeding a try—that colostrum you produce in the first couple of days is called “liquid gold” for a reason.
Need support? There are many breast feeding resources available in Western New York. or you can call us here at Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello. Our goal is to help you and your baby get the best possible start in life.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.
For the best chance of having a healthy baby, you want to have a healthy pregnancy. Luckily, there are plenty of resources in Western New York that can help pregnant women do just that. Here are a few options:
Catholic Health’s WomenCare program offers a wide variety of prenatal classes, given at either Mercy Hospital or Sisters of Charity Hospital, including:
- Prepared Childbirth – Designed mostly for the first time mom, these classes cover relaxation and breathing techniques and more.
- Prepared Childbirth Refresher – This class refamiliarizes you with what to expect during and after pregnancy.
- Preparing to Breastfeed – Learn about the initial breastfeeding experience and what to expect at home.
- Twinformation Classes – These cover the special needs of twin pregnancy.
- Baby Talk – Topics discussed include common newborn concerns such as bathing, breastfeeding, bottle feeding and more.
- Sibling Classes – introduces pre-school and young children to the exciting role of being a big brother or sister
Kaleida Health holds prenatal classes at both Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Their classes cover topics such as:
• Labor and delivery
• Breathing techniques
• Caesarean births
• Parent classes
• Infant feeding and care
• Sibling classes
• Infant safety and CPR
• Infant development and stimulation.
If you are interested in natural childbirth, you can explore the options presented by WNY Childbirth Education and Doula Services. They offer an 8-week series of natural childbirth classes that promise to teach students about the labor process and help to create a set of skills and techniques to use in labor instead of medication. They also offer a “One Day Crash Course” for moms that have already been through labor and birth before, or for anyone with a quickly approaching due date that doesn’t have eight weeks. The crash course lasts about five hours and covers the stages of labor, labor coping techniques, coaching skills, and birth choices.
Other options include BlueCross BlueShield’s Right Start Prenatal Program for its members in Erie County and the Young Parents Program sponsored by Catholic Charities of Buffalo, which provides services both in the home and at the Ken-Ton Family Health Center and Mercy Hospital.
Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello is an OBGYN practice in Buffalo where we are committed to helping our patients achieve a healthy pregnancy. We believe in supporting the total health of our patients and our community. If you have any questions about how to have a healthy pregnancy, please call or contact us anytime.
Everyone thinks that because breastfeeding is natural, that it’s easy. But experienced nursing moms can tell you—it’s not always! If you’re planning to breastfeed, you’re probably going to need some support. Where are your best resources in Western New York?
At the Hospital
When you give birth at Mercy Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo or Sisters Hospital, you can expect to receive support from an onsite lactation consultant. Be sure to tell the staff when you arrive that you plan to breastfeed after your baby is born, so they can help you get started correctly, right away.
Most of these facilities also offer breastfeeding classes as part of their preparation courses for new parents-to-be. These classes are taught by experienced, internationally board certified lactation consultants and are designed to help answer common questions and concerns that you may experience during pregnancy. They should prepare you for both the initial breastfeeding experience and what to expect during the first few weeks at home.
However, we all know that what works one day might not work the next. If you were doing well with breastfeeding at the hospital but things don’t seem to be going right now, or if you just want some reassurance, both Sisters and Mercy hospitals have the Baby Café, a weekly drop-in center where you can get support and guidance from certified lactation consultant nurses.
You can also ask your child’s pediatrician if they have a lactation consultant on staff. Care Connections, a lactation center located in Amherst that serves all eight counties of WNY, provides lactation consultant services for over 35 local pediatricians.
Care Connections also offers home visits by their IBC-certified lactation consultants in addition to onsite breastfeeding consultations. And if you can make the drive to their Amherst location, they rent breast pumps and sell a variety of clothing and accessories designed to make your breastfeeding experience easier.
If you’ll be returning to work and plan to continue nursing, Millard Fillmore Suburban offers a special class called Breastfeeding and the Working Mother, which will help you prepare to return to work by teaching you to use your breast pump and store your breast milk.
And if you have a question in the middle of the night, there are several great websites out there full of helpful information. Try:
At Chouchani, Sayegh and Bagnarello, MD, we strive to prepare and support all of our patients who want to breastfeed to have a successful experience. In fact, we want any woman who wants to breastfeed to have a successful experience! Please contact us if you have any questions. Our team is here for you before, during and after your pregnancy.