You know breastfeeding is good for you and for baby. But, how do you get started and how long should you breastfeed?
First off, moms who are breastfeeding can benefit from finding a support network, connecting with people who understand and encourage the choice to breastfeed, and can offer helpful advice if questions come up.
Many moms find that breastfeeding comes naturally and they don’t run into any major problems. Others might be the first in their family to choose to breastfeed, or they might run into concerns that make it a challenge to continue.
Lisa Kimura, a breastfeeding peer counselor and executive director of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies gave us these suggestions on getting started:
• First things first: Don’t wait to ask for help! If you’re ever experiencing pain while breastfeeding, something needs to be fixed right away. A certified lactation consultant is your best ally, and can provide you with expert knowledge to get back on track. Find local breastfeeding support through HMHB’s online resource directory or by calling the MothersCare Line at (888) 951-6661. If you’re a WIC recipient, as half of new mothers in Hawaii are, you can also access lactation support at your local WIC clinic.
Photo credit: Norma Mitchell Photography
• Secondly, make sure your family and partner are on board with your decision to breastfeed. Arm yourself with the knowledge and confidence that breast milk helps baby grow healthier, preventing a variety of short and long-term health risks.
• When people ask how long you intend to breastfeed, the simplest answer is that the global recommendation from the World Health Organization is nothing but breast milk (no water, food or formula) for the first six months, and continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or longer. If you and baby are content in your breastfeeding relationship, there is no expiration date. The composition of your milk continues to evolve based on your baby’s individual needs and the immune-boosting protection never stops.
• Finally, have confidence in yourself and your body. Making milk is entirely a supply and demand process: the more baby eats, the more milk you make. Monitor baby’s steady weight gain and check for six or more wet and three to four dirty diapers per day to ensure baby is eating enough. And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for being able to provide all the life-sustaining nutrition your baby needs to grow.
Remember: You can do it! Take it one day at a time. And if you have questions, help is always available.