What are the Benefits of Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is good for mom and baby because…
- It improves baby’s health and well being
- It allows mom and baby to bond
- It’s free, mom doesn’t have to spend money on expensive formula
- It reduces medical bills
Breastfeeding benefits mom by:
- Preventing excessive bleeding
- Releasing hormones into mom’s body that help her relax
- Lowering risk of breast cancer
- Allowing mom to take less sick days off of work
Breastfeeding benefits baby by:
- Providing the perfect food for your baby’s growth and development
- Digesting easily in the baby’s belly
- Reducing the chance of infections and illness
- Protecting baby against obesity, diarrhea, and respiratory illness
- Preventing the development of allergies
- Decreasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Breastfeeding Initiation at The BirthPlace
UCLA is proud to be a part of improving the health of birthing parents and infants. We encourage and support new parents with breastfeeding information before, during, and after their hospital stay. Breastfeeding is the first step to a healthy life and forms a natural and lasting bond between birthing parent and child. The more the baby breastfeeds, the greater will be the benefits to the birthing parent and baby. For this reason, UCLA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) highly recommend that babies be fed only breast milk for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding together with healthy foods is recommended to continue as long as birthing parent and baby desire.
I have small breasts. Will I be able to make enough milk for my baby?
Breast size does not determine milk production, but breastfeeding does! Putting baby to breast early and often stimulates your milk production. Women with small breasts can make just as much milk as women with large breasts.
I had a lot of difficulty breastfeeding my first baby. Is it even worth trying this time around?
Each baby is different. If you had problems once, it's always worth trying again. Ask your healthcare provider about resources for expectant moms, including classes, support groups, and private consultations with a lactation consultant.
I'll have to go back to work. Should I even start breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding benefits do not end when moms go back to work. Breastfeeding will help you feel connected to your baby, even when you are away. Your job benefits, too. It has been proven that mothers who breastfeed need less time off work for sick babies. Talk to your healthcare provider about resources like breast pump rentals and support for the back-to-work transition.
A Mother's Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
- Breast is Best, but why? Learn why giving only breastmilk is best for you and your baby and why formula can cause problems. Use resources like your healthcare provider, breastfeeding support groups, and breastfeeding classes.
- Tell the World! Let your obstetrician or midwife, family, friends, and employers know you plan to give only breastmilk and need their full support. When you arrive at the BirthPlace in labor, tell your nurse, too.
- Hold your Baby Skin-to-Skin right after delivery. Your baby will be alert and interested in breastfeeding. The contact between you and your baby will help keep your baby warm and ease the transition to this big, bright world.
- Room-in with your baby. This will allow you to respond more easily to your baby's cues and breastfeed as soon as your baby shows signs of hunger. Your baby will feel more connected to you, too.
- Feed early and often. Babies who have their first feed within the first hour of life and who are fed frequently during the first few days of life breastfeed better and longer than babies who are restricted by a schedule.
- Think ahead. If you will return to work, start with exclusive breastfeeding so that your body makes the milk your baby will need. Introduce pumping and bottles later.
- Ask for help if you need it. Use your resources. The nurses can help you with the basics of breastfeeding and can help you position and attach your baby for feeds. Lactation consultants are also available for additional help and support.
- Don't get discouraged if you have difficulties. Most breastfeeding problems can be easily fixed. Rely on the support of friends or family who have breastfed and use resources like our breastfeeding support groups.
- Plan for long term. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to a year or more. Get comfortable breastfeeding away from home and make a plan for pumping when you return to work or school.
- Get to know other breastfeeding moms. Make new friends; join a breastfeeding support group. Most importantly, have fun getting to know your baby!