The 5 Most Important Reasons to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding can be challenging. While it’s a natural process, that doesn’t make it an easy one. Many new moms struggle with getting the hang of it, and it can be frustrating and disappointing. Although a rough start to breastfeeding can lead many moms to throw in the towel, remember that there are very good reasons to push forward. You are making an excellent choice for your baby as well as for yourself. Check out this list if you need a reminder of why it’s worth every minute of the struggle.

1. Building Baby’s Immune System

Formula can’t give your baby the antibodies needed to stay healthy in the first few months of life. Until around 3 months old, your baby’s body isn’t yet capable of producing its own antibodies, so breast milk is the only source. Even beyond the first months, the incredible combination of nutrients found only in breast milk will continue to strengthen your baby’s immune system. This means fewer colds, infections and other illnesses to make your baby (and you) miserable. It also means that those illnesses your baby does contract will likely be over faster and less severe, as your baby’s body is better able to fight it off.

2. Protecting Baby’s Future Health

Breastfeeding has been connected with a lower risk of a number of conditions later in life. Breastfed babies are less likely to obese, and less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. They have a lower incidence of asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues. Breast milk has also been connected with a lower risk of childhood leukemia.

3. Providing Your Baby with the Perfect Nutrition

Breast milk is not just the perfect baby food; it’s the perfect food for your baby. Every woman produces breast milk that is designed specifically for her own baby’s needs. The balance of nutrition and composition changes over time, meeting the ever-changing needs of your baby’s growing body. This is something formula just isn’t capable of doing. While formula is one size fits all, breast milk is tailored perfectly for the baby it is being made to feed.

4. Protecting Your Health

The newest research indicates that breastfeeding isn’t only beneficial to the baby. Mothers who breastfeed have a lower chance of both breast and ovarian cancer. It also encourages postpartum weight loss, and research shows that not only do breastfeeding mothers lose more weight; they also keep it off better than non-breastfeeding mothers. Despite previous concerns about calcium being leached from the bones of breastfeeding mothers, the newest evidence suggests that breastfeeding actually strengthens bones and results in a lower chance of osteoporosis later in life.

5. Keeping Your Budget in Check

Have you looked at the price of formula recently? It’s expensive, and it adds up fast. Not only does breast milk save you a lot of money on formula, but also on bottles, nipples, washing and sterilizing equipment and probably on laundry too – formula spit up tends to stain while breast milk spit up doesn’t.

Whenever you feel like breastfeeding is just too hard, remember all of these important reasons to carry on. You are doing something incredible for your baby and for yourself, and you will see the benefits for many years to come. Although there may be hurdles to overcome as you settle in to breastfeeding, they will soon be a thing of the past. These benefits however, will last a lifetime.

How Breastfeeding Benefits Mom and Baby

In recent years, study after study has come out revealing a huge number of reasons why breastfeeding is the best choice for a newborn baby. Not only does it have many health benefits for the baby, new research is now proving it’s healthy for the mom as well. Making the choice to breastfeed your baby is without a doubt the best thing you can do for both of you.

Breastfeeding and Nutrition

Breast milk is a complex liquid; it comprises an incredible number of vitamins, minerals, and antibodies that your baby simply can’t get anywhere else. In spite of improvements to formula over the years, it is still light years away from matching what nature has created for your baby.

In addition to providing compounds that can’t be replicated, breast milk is created by the body to meet the specific needs of your baby. Studies have shown that the composition of breast milk changes over time as your baby’s nutritional needs change with growth. The body even adjusts the content of the breast milk to meet the needs of a baby born prematurely. Thus, your particular breast milk is the best possible baby food for your particular baby.

Benefits for the Baby

The benefits to breastfeeding your baby are numerous, and more are being discovered all the time. Breast milk is the only source of antibodies in the first months of life, when baby’s body isn’t yet able to produce them. This means that a breastfed baby will have greater protection against illness. Even when baby’s body does start to produce antibodies, the breast milk will continue to provide immune support. Breastfed babies suffer fewer colds and other common childhood illnesses than babies who are formula fed.

Breastfed babies are also less likely to develop a number of health problems later in life, including obesity, respiratory problems including asthma, allergies, leukemia, diabetes and many more. Studies have also indicated that breastfeeding reduces the chances of SIDS.

Breast milk is easier for a baby’s delicate digestive system to handle, so it may also reduce problems with gas, constipation and reflux.

Benefits for the Mother

New research shows that mothers who breastfeed have lower incidences of postpartum depression. They are also at a lower risk of both breast and ovarian cancer. In addition to these major health benefits, breastfeeding can help a new mother to lose the extra baby weight faster, as the production of breast milk burns calories.

The benefits aren’t just health ones either. Breastfeeding saves a large amount of money over having to purchase formula, which can be very expensive. You also won’t have to purchase bottles, nipples, or sterilizing products – nor will you have to spend time on the process of sterilization. This can be a huge benefit in the middle of the night, when you can simply feed baby without having to go make a bottle and get it to the right temperature.

One of the biggest benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby is the special bond that it creates. The time spent nursing your baby will become a special quiet time that you will cherish. Studies have shown that the skin-on-skin contact is beneficial to baby’s growth and development as well. For this reason, a system of skin contact known as “kangaroo care” has been implemented in hospitals with premature babies who are not yet able to nurse. Premature babies who get kangaroo care tend to do better than those who do not. Your baby can get the same benefits from time spent breastfeeding.

Nutrition in Your Breast Milk

Breast milk is an amazing liquid. It contains all of the vitamins, minerals, antibodies and more that your baby needs to grow and thrive. The only thing you need to do to make sure that your baby is getting everything needed out of your breast milk is to make sure that you are healthy. Your body will take care of the rest!

Eating a Healthy Diet

While you are breastfeeding, you need to provide your body with all of the nutrients it needs to do that important job of making the perfect baby food for your baby. This means eating a healthy, balanced diet that provides all of the necessary vitamins and minerals as well as the proper amount of calories from fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Your body will take the nutrients it needs from your body’s stores in order to fill the breast milk with all of the incredible nutrition that your baby can’t get any other way. You will need to replace those nutrients every day. Make sure that the foods you choose are varied and include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and good protein sources. You should aim to follow the recommended daily amounts for servings from each food group. Try to get 6-9 servings of grains, 2-3 servings of protein, 3-4 servings of dairy, and 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables. Avoid unhealthy choices such as those high in sugar or unhealthy fats.

Does Your Diet Affect the Nutrition of the Milk?

The answer is a little complicated. While breast milk has been shown to be remarkably nutritionally stable in spite of imperfect nutrition on the part of the mother, there are many ways in which your diet can affect your breast milk. Your body will continue to make nutritionally sound milk for your baby except in cases of extreme deprivation – however, your diet supports your body’s ability to make enough breast milk for baby’s needs.

Eating the right number of calories, keeping your body healthy with a balance of vitamins and minerals, and maintaining adequate fluid intake are all vital to keeping your production of breast milk steady. Remember that your body is working hard to make that milk – you need to give it a steady source of fuel.

There are some things you eat that can affect the composition of breast milk. Research has shown that the type of fat you consume can affect the type of fat most prevalent in your breast milk. Try to stick to healthy unsaturated fats to ensure baby is reaping the benefits these fats provide. The level of fat in breast milk is most affected by the fullness or emptiness of the breast. A highly engorged breast will have a lower fat content than an emptier one. However, as long as your baby nurses regularly, there is no need to worry about the amount of fat in the milk.

The best thing you can do for your baby’s health is to breast feed, and the best thing that you can do to help your body produce healthy breast milk is to be healthy yourself. As long as you are eating nutritious foods and drinking plenty of water, you shouldn’t have to worry about the content of your breast milk. Your body was made to produce that perfect food for baby, and it is very good at the job. All you need to do is support it!

Your Nutrition while Breastfeeding

Your days of watching what you eat aren’t over when your pregnancy ends. If you are planning to breastfeed, you will need to continue your healthy habits. Nursing your baby means that your body must provide all of the nutrition required for baby to grow strong. Your body is working hard to produce the milk, so you will need some extra calories to keep it going, but make sure you get those extra calories from healthy, nutritious foods.

What You Should Eat

A balanced diet from all four food groups is vital while you are breastfeeding. Be sure to eat a varied diet that will give you all of the necessary vitamins and minerals. You should already be used to eating well from your pregnancy, so you can simply continue those good eating habits into your nursing diet. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources such as poultry and fish, good sources of calcium, and whole grain options for lots of fiber.

You will probably find that in the early months of breastfeeding, you have a very good appetite. Most nursing moms will feel very hungry, and this is because the body needs a lot of fuel to keep producing that milk. A nursing mom requires about 500 calories more per day than a woman who is not nursing (and not pregnant). This means only another 200 calories above the extra 300 needed during pregnancy. Add a healthy snack or two to your daily intake to meet this need.

Adding extra fluids to your diet is a good idea while breastfeeding. It will keep you hydrated and help your milk production. Try to add several glasses of water every day.

What You Should Not Eat

The main difference between a pregnancy diet and a breastfeeding diet is that you won’t have to follow all of the same dietary restrictions you did while pregnant. Foods like sushi and eggs over-easy are no longer off the menu. Alcohol and caffeine, however, do pass into breast milk. You should continue to avoid them or consume them with great caution. Most experts recommend that you wait 2 hours after an alcoholic beverage before breastfeeding, but it’s best to skip it altogether. Caffeine is ok in moderation, but it may make baby jittery or affect sleep, so use it carefully.

Although you may have heard a lot about how certain foods can make your baby gassy or fussy, there is no reason to avoid foods such as those that are spicy unless you actually see a reaction in your baby. Most babies will not have a problem with these types of foods. A food that makes you gassy is not going to make your baby gassy, but there may be a food in your diet that baby is allergic to or simply sensitive to, which could cause gas. If you notice that your baby becomes gassy or fussy around 6 hours after eating a certain food, try eliminating it for a while to see if it helps.

Your breastfeeding diet should simply be a continuation of your healthy pregnancy diet, with a few minor changes. Just as in pregnancy, your body is feeding your baby, so keep that in mind when planning your diet. You should also continue taking supplements just as you did during pregnancy to make sure your body gets everything it needs.

The Danger of Smoking During Pregnancy

We know that it’s a bad habit, but yet many of us pick it up somewhere along the way. There’s nothing cute or glamorous about smoking, but yet many women still can’t kick the habit. It may have been something that you picked up when you were much younger, and have inevitably become addicted to. It may be something that you turn to when you’re stressed or when you’re in a social situation.

The smoking pattern of everyone is quite different, but yet the results are the same. Though we hear it time and time again, we somehow ignore the warnings that smoking is bad for us. We know that there is long term potential risks and danger to our health, but we have such a difficult time in quitting. When it comes to pregnancy however, there has never been a greater reason to quit the bad habit. Though we know that smoking is bad enough for us, it takes things to an exponential high when it comes to smoking during pregnancy. Quitting smoking is what you should do for the baby, and there are many reasons why.

Consider the Risks to Your Pregnancy

Though common sense can tell you what you already know, smoking is inherently bad for you and your baby. If the risks to you alone weren’t enough to get you to quit before, consider what smoking can do to your baby and to your pregnancy. The risks as you can see on a chart like this are numerous and therefore this is something to stand up and take notice of.

During pregnancy, there are a great number of risks that can come about as a result of smoking. If you are worried about maintaining a healthy pregnancy, then smoking is the first thing to cut out. When you smoke, it cuts off oxygen and nutrients that your baby and your placenta need to thrive and survive. When this happens, your baby isn’t getting what it needs. Additionally the placenta will spread out in search of oxygen for the baby and this can lead to placenta previa. In this condition, the placenta can cover up the cervix and this is a huge danger. You contribute to the risks of an ectopic pregnancy, vaginal bleeding, and a displacement of the placenta. These are only the risks present to and during your pregnancy – it does get worse!

Consider the Risks to Your Baby

As if the risks to your pregnancy aren’t enough, consider the actual risks to your unborn child. When a woman is pregnant, she will usually put nothing before the health and safety of her baby. She lives for her baby and does whatever she can to nurture and care for her baby in the womb. When you smoke however, this nurturing isn’t exactly happening.

Smoking can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and many of these unthinkable consequences of pregnancy which lead to the unthinkable with your baby. You are contributing to possible birth defects such as a cleft lip and may even cause actual breathing problems in your newborn once they are born. Down the road, smoking during pregnancy may even contribute to your child developing asthma. So you can see that the risks far outweigh the necessity to light up. If you ever needed a reason to quit smoking, let the health of your baby be the incentive that you needed.

C-Sections and The Health of Your Baby

Old Title: Is It True That Having a C-Section May Affect My Baby’s Immune System?

There is a great deal of anticipation when it comes to the birth of your baby. If you take a birthing class, then they tell you to create a birth plan. Even if you have one, there are always the unforeseen circumstances that you can’t quite plan for. Giving birth to a child is a very intense process and involves a great deal of factors to be lined up. If you go in assuming that things will go one way, they will almost certainly go another way. It just goes to show that when it comes to delivering your baby, you should be prepared for anything. There are many moms out there that worry about a C-section, and understandably so. There are however certain times when it can’t be avoided, but you do want to know what it means for your baby.

The Potential Risks

Though there is contradictory evidence, you can find information to support that a C-section could somehow create health problems for your baby down the line. What many believe happen is that the DNA is somehow compromised using a C-section as a method of delivery. When that happens, it can lead to a potentially weakened immune system or may even make them susceptible to health problems such as diabetes or asthma later on. This doesn’t become a certainty, but as you can see that the potential risks are there.

It is believed that babies delivered via C-sections don’t have time to properly prepare for birth. This means that it can put additional stress on the birth and the experience overall. While some may debate this, others believe that this is what can lead to all of the potential problems down the line. It’s important to talk to your doctor to see if this is the best delivery method for you. It is also important to talk to your doctor to understand when it is safe to plan for a C-section if that is deemed necessary. Anything before 39 weeks of pregnancy should be seriously questioned as baby’s full development isn’t complete.

There Are Instances Where It’s Safer

It is important however to remember that there are instances where a C-section may not only be desirable, but actually recommended as well. When the baby is breech and shows no signs of flipping in time for delivery, then the C-section creates a much safer delivery for mother and baby. When the woman has had another C-section in the past, there are many conditions that must be in line to ensure that vaginal delivery is even possible. Therefore a planned C-section may be the best possible option for a woman in this situation. If there is any distress within the baby or anything that could cause potential harm to mother or baby during delivery, then this too is an instance where a C-section is recommended.

The timing of the birth is an important factor, and many will find that the baby will respond much better to a planned C-section over an emergency one. So while there may be potential risks that can be scary to mom, doing whatever is best for the baby is what rules out in the long run. If a C-section is recommended, just ask a lot of questions and be sure that everything is happening as it is meant to so that there is no worry of potential health problems down the road.

Getting Some Energy Back After Baby is Born

You’re holding your new baby in your arms and can hardly believe that they are here. After nine long months of pregnancy and however long it took to conceive, your little bundle of joy is finally here. It’s a miracle and something that’s just so amazing to absorb for most new moms.

The miracle of life is something that can’t be replicated in anything else, and therefore we cling to it with the birth of our child. Therefore we are filled with a plethora of emotions, all of pure joy, right? If you are feeling a bit less than joyful as you are experiencing what it’s like to have many sleepless nights, then you’re not alone.

Though your lack of energy likely doesn’t take away any of the joy that you feel, you are probably feeling simply exhausted. This is a stage that many new parents go through and it’s a normal and natural part of the cycle. Knowing how to get some much needed energy back can help you to feel more like yourself again.

Take Advantage of Help When You Get It

If you are breastfeeding then you may feel as though you never have a break. You may feel as though your entire existence is based on feeding and caring for that little darling – and it is! If you are bottle feeding, then you may have a bit more of a break. You may be able to trade off feedings with your partner or a close family member that can help out a bit.

No matter what you are doing for feedings or how you are caring for your baby, you do want to take people up on the offer to help. If people offer to help with simple chores around the house, run errands for you, or make you dinner, then let them. This can result in you having a bit more time to relax or at least not have to worry about the many things that need to be done. This is a simple enough way to get some energy back and allows you to enjoy your new baby and a bit of freedom.

Along the same lines comes the notion of resting when the baby rests. Until the baby gets on any sort of schedule, this can be tough. It can also be difficult if you have another child at home. However even the notion of a mini nap of twenty minutes here and there can be of great help. Resting and putting your feet up if nothing else is always a great way to regain some of that much needed energy. Whatever you can do to rest your body and take care of yourself will pay you back in dividends.

Eat Right and Exercise

If you really want to ensure that you get your energy back, then you may have to expend a bit of energy. Though this does sound counterintuitive, it really can work. It may not be something that you can do in the baby’s first couple of days, but is something that you should look to whenever necessary. So consider eating the right foods, that is a well balanced diet to give you nutrients and of course energy.

You also want to start to incorporate exercise whenever possible. This can be something as simple as putting the baby in the stroller and taking it out for a walk, but it gets you moving. Though this may not sound desirable, it can really help you to regain some energy and feel more like yourself again in no time.

Looking For and Building Up Fine Motor Skills In Your Baby

There’s just so much to take in throughout baby’s first years. They will change so much from month to month that you may even feel as though you don’t recognize your little one on certain days. They grow leaps and bounds just within a given week. They accumulate new skills and traits all the time, leaving you marveling at all that they can do.

It seems that almost overnight your little newborn baby who is more of a blob than anything else turns into this charismatic little person that has more personality than you can believe. Babies are truly marvelous in all that they accomplish, and many of these milestones happen right in front of our very eyes. When it comes to fine motor skills, this is something that you want to be tuned into in terms of your baby’s development. You want to be on the lookout for it and you want to help foster and develop it as a parent, as it will provide great benefits later on.

What Can You Look For?

First and foremost, it’s important to note that this is not something that you want to force. You don’t want to push your baby as they won’t reach any milestones until they are ready. If you push too hard you may get the opposite reaction. However, you do want to keep tuned into their fine motor skills as this is something that they will utilize their whole life through. See if baby is reaching for things, grabbing for items, sucking on her hand, or discovering things such as their own body parts. These are all good examples and exhibit a sense of fine motor skills that are rather important for baby’s development. These are important to ensure that they keep on track, and they are actually things that you can facilitate on your own.

You want to watch for these things in the first few months of your baby’s development. By five months as an average, baby should be trying to reach for things or at least be interested in things. It may take some time and encouragement from you as a parent, but the simple act of reaching or grabbing is a great sign that baby is doing what they are supposed to do. Every baby will work on their own timetable as some babies start grabbing or reaching far sooner. Others may skip over this phase and then move onto the next. This all shows possible coordination and shows that baby understands what to do to get what they want. All of these things are important for fine motor skills and the development of your baby overall.

How Can You Facilitate It?

This doesn’t mean that you should be shaking a rattle in front of your newborn relentlessly every day. It does mean though that as your baby grows and shows signs of readiness, that you are on the floor playing and interacting with them. Introduce different toys such as puzzles and different colors of toys. Things that are interesting to them will help them to reach and grab, and eventually pull items towards them. The point is that you as a parent can set up an environment that doesn’t force but encourages your baby to develop these skills and build upon them as they get older.

Taking the Stress Out of the Last Days of Your Pregnancy

Early on in your pregnancy you may feel as though you can’t wait for your due date to arrive. You are inundated with symptoms of all varieties, and you may feel as though nine months is an eternity away. You make it through your pregnancy, your series of doctor’s appointments, tests, and ultrasounds to arrive at the big day. You had such high hopes and anticipations for what it would be like to get to the end, and you initially feel excited.

Once the reality that your due date is near hits you, it’s likely that you are feeling a whole host of other things. Many women feel a great deal of stress as they approach the final days of their pregnancy. It’s not that they’re not excited to meet their little babies, it’s just that they know their lives are about to change. Additionally they may feel as if they aren’t quite ready for labor, and so it’s important to take the stress out of this final stage of pregnancy.

Getting Your Head on Straight at the End

The problem for most women is that they feel as though they have so much to do. They feel like they are grossly unprepared for the birth and arrival of their little baby. Though you’ve likely been planning for the birth for nine months now, it can still feel like it comes at you rather quickly. One of the most important things you can do to take the stress out of your final days of pregnancy is to relax. This means that you should try to get in all of the naps and restful nights of sleep that you possibly can. There is nothing wrong with putting your feet up and closing your eyes for a few minutes – as a matter of fact that may be a good recommendation. This can help you to get your head on straight and to decompress as your due date approaches.

Get Ready and Then Wait

The final few days of a pregnancy are almost a game of “hurry up and wait” so just be prepared for this. The best thing that you can do is to be prepared in every sense of the word. Take your preparation time very seriously and take your time with it. Avoid the temptation to pack everything in at the last minute, as the baby may arrive faster than you thought. Take your time along the way to get baby’s room ready for their arrival. Also be careful to get your overnight bag packed well in advance of your due date as this can always work to your advantage. There is no such thing as too prepared when it comes to your due date, and this really helps to take a lot of the stress out of your final days.

Once you have learned to embrace relaxation and done everything you possibly can to get prepared, then it’s time to sit back and wait for that little baby. Try not to let your mind wander and let all the bad or scary thoughts in. You will be just fine and you will give birth as millions of women have done before you. Doing your part in advance and learning to embrace relaxation can do wonders for your final days of pregnancy, and of course for your labor and delivery as well.

What Daddy Should Pack for the Hospital

There’s so much emphasis on the mother-to-be throughout pregnancy, and often the dad is overlooked. As he is just as important a part of the process, there should be some thought put into the role that he plays. Without the dad or a similar system of support, the entire experience is made much more difficult for the mom. Both partners need each other and that’s why it’s so important to ensure that dad is available and present.

The dad wants to be a part of the birthing process just as much as anybody. He can offer comfort and support as the mom makes it through all of the different stages of labor. Every dad wants to be there to meet their new little bundle of joy for the first time, as it’s one of those precious moments in life that you will always treasure. So just as the mom has to get ready for the big arrival, the dad should be prepared and packed for the hospital stay as well.

Playing the Support Role

Though this role is crucial to the birth of his child, the dad will ultimately play a support role. As he packs for the hospital, he should ensure that many of the items on his checklist reflect this role and are in place to help mom through the stages and get everything in order after the birth. Take a look at this checklist for example whereby many of the items recommended for daddy to bring include those which will support his partner. Consider bringing items such as a stop watch and a pad of paper to write down contraction times and track the labor overall. Be sure to bring along a video camera, regular camera, and anything else that can be used to capture every aspect of the birth that you will surely want to remember later on.

Bring whatever is necessary to keep your partner comfortable and focused. This can include massage oils, scented items to keep her calm, pillows, special comfort items, and of course music. Talk to your partner in advance and be sure that you know what she would like to help keep her calm and as happy as can be throughout the birth process. This is where your support role becomes very important and therefore you want to be prepared to help out in any way that you can.

Getting Yourself Comfortable

Chances are that you’re going to be in the hospital for a while. Either the labor may carry on longer than you had anticipated, or you may be staying with your partner throughout the duration of her hospital visit. Either way you want to be sure to pack a change of clothes and even something comfortable like pajamas for the occasion where you spend the night. Bring some pillows along for you as you can’t always be sure of what the sleeping arrangements will be.

Pack some snacks for yourself as you need to keep your energy up during the long birthing process. Also be sure to bring some money as you will surely have to grab a meal or a snack from the cafeteria during your stay. Along with the camera and any other items that you bring to capture the precious moments, be sure that you bring along the phone numbers of anybody that you’ll want to contact with the good news after the birth. All of these things will make your stay more comfortable and allow you to focus on your partner and your new baby.

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