Breastfeeding Awareness Month: Preparing for Breastfeeding

breastfeeding benefitsA mountain of decisions await expectant parents – everything from nursery bedding to diaper brands to deciding what and how to feed the baby, which is one of the most important.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their lives. The Academy also encourages breastfeeding through two years and beyond if mutually desired by both mother and infant. For the 84 percent of Illinoisans who decide to breastfeed their babies, preparation for a successful nursing relationship begins before the baby’s debut. Memorial Health certified lactation consultants and nurses are reliable resources – both before and after delivery.

Research confirms that breastfeeding offers numerous benefits for both the parent and infant. The following childhood illnesses occur less often among children who were breastfed as infants due to the unique make-up of human milk including:

  • Ear infections
  • Some respiratory illnesses
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Leukemia
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Some common skin issues

Plus, individuals who breastfeed their infant are at lower risk for type 2 diabetes and breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers, as well as high blood pressure.

If you plan to breastfeed, our nurses suggest the following:

Before Delivery

  • Educate yourself about how to breastfeed, your body and its capabilities and the supplies you’ll need to purchase.
  • Meet with a lactation consultant if you have any hesitancies about breastfeeding or if you are concerned about anatomical issues such as inverted nipples or if you have had breast surgery in the past.
  • Attend a class. Memorial Health hospitals offer classes that both the mother and a support person (your partner, parent, birth coach, etc.) may attend to learn breastfeeding basics and ask questions. Memorial’s certified lactation consultants offer free breastfeeding classes several times a year, and breastfeeding is addressed in other free expectant parent courses offered by our hospitals.
  • Cultivate a support system of positive people who will support and encourage you and your baby during the breastfeeding journey.

After Delivery

  • Once the baby is born, nurses will place the baby immediately on your chest for skin-to-skin contact. Your warmth and smell helps the baby transition to a new reality outside the womb.
  • Aim to nurse the baby within an hour after birth. Work with your nurses to protect family time so that baby and mother can work on the first breastfeeding session together in a quiet environment without the bustle of visitors and interruptions.
  • Request the baby “room in” with you so you can begin to learn your baby’s feeding cues and feed on demand.
  • Before you go home, ask the certified lactation consultants and nursing staff questions about proper latching, holding techniques and how to know if the baby is eating enough (Tip: Your biggest clue that a baby is eating well? What comes in, must come out.)
  • Attend a weekly breastfeeding support group. Here you can weigh the infant and receive individualized help from a certified lactation consultant if you have questions or concerns.

Breastfeeding Support

Several resources exist for nursing parents after they leave the hospital. Memorial’s lactation consultants are available by phone or in person. Need help? Don’t hesitate to call.

  • Decatur Memorial Hospital – 217-876-3400
  • Jacksonville Memorial Hospital – 217-245-9541 ext. 5542
  • Lincoln Memorial Hospital – 217-605-5231
  • Springfield Memorial Hospital – 217-788-3378

Support groups are also great resources for networking with other parents with babies of the same age. Explore support group options on the Memorial Health website.

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