Breastfeeding is the most natural and beneficial method of feeding your baby, but it isn’t always easy and you may need help getting started. Additionally, for women expecting a complicated delivery, a premature infant, or for those with maternal medical conditions, they may have questions about safety and options for breastfeeding. The lactation consultants and lactation medicine physicians at UR Medicine’s Breastfeeding Program are available to help every parent feel more comfortable with decisions on how to feed baby.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of their baby’s life, and continue in combination with the introduction of complementary foods until 12 months. The nutritional benefits to your baby are undisputed, as breast milk is full of nutrients and antibodies known to protect against viruses and bacteria that can lead to respiratory illnesses, ear infections, gastrointestinal diseases, and allergies including asthma, eczema, and atopic dermatitis.
Parents also benefit from breastfeeding as it releases a hormone that speeds the contraction of your uterus to its pre-pregnancy size, and lowers your risk of breast, uterine, and endometrial cancers. Other benefits include an undeniable emotional connection with your baby and the added bonus of burning calories, so you shed your pregnancy weight faster.
Breastfeeding is even more important for premature infants or infants with medical conditions where there may be additional benefits to them for improving healing and reducing infection risks.
Challenges of Breastfeeding
It’s common for new parents to worry if their baby is getting enough to eat. You may need guidance and repetition to get your baby to latch on. Lactation consultants will work with you to correctly position your baby to minimize issues, recognize your baby’s hunger signs, develop a feeding schedule, and ensure your baby is well fed and content.
If your baby requires care in our NICU, a lactation consultant will facilitate a breastfeeding schedule for you or, if necessary, help collect your breast milk for your infant to receive.
You may need help with breastfeeding if:
- You have cracked or bleeding nipples.
- Your baby is not gaining weight.
- Your mature milk does not come in within a week of delivery.
- You have painful engorgement or mastitis (breast infection).
- You have low milk supply, are supplementing with formula, and/or have an overproduction of milk.
- You have a premature baby (born before 36 weeks).
- You are on medications that can pass into breastmilk.
Call UR Medicine Breastfeeding at (585) 276-MILK if you need to make an appointment with a doctor or midwife specializing in breastfeeding.
If you have any immediate questions or concerns regarding breastfeeding or medications that you are taking, please contact your baby's pediatrician.