One of the major decisions parents face after their baby is born is whether or not to breastfeed. Choosing to breastfeed, also called nursing, can be very personal. Parents’ lifestyles and their babies can be very different. While breastfeeding is a breeze for some, others find it very difficult.

The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend that breast milk be the only source of nutrition for the first six months. They cite multiple positive effects for you and your baby. Let’s break those down.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Parents often wonder if breastfeeding is better than formula. And there are some key plusses when it comes to nursing.

Excellent Nutrition & Helpful Antibodies

Breastmilk is designed to sustain babies. Before there was formula or other supplements, babies lived and thrived on breastmilk. It has the right mix of vitamins, proteins, and fat for a growing child. It’s also full of antibodies that will help your baby handle bacteria and viruses. The makeup of your breastmilk will even change as your baby gets older. It’s adjusting to the different needs they have at each stage of growth.

Helps Your Baby Maintain Healthy Weight

Studies have shown that babies who have mostly or only breastmilk are less likely to become overweight or obese. This may be due to the presence of gut bacteria that controls fat storage. And it may also be due to higher levels of leptin. This hormone regulates appetite and fat storage.

Helps You Lose Weight

Breastfeeding can burn quite a few calories, so you may notice that you lose more weight after a few months with your newborn.

Reducing Disease Risk For You & Your Baby

Breastfeeding can be a win-win situation for you and your little one. Babies that breastfeed tend to have a reduced risk of:

  • Respiratory Tract Infections
  • Colds
  • Gut infections,
  • Eczema, Atopic Dermatitis, Asthma, etc.
  • Bowel Diseases
  • Middle Ear Infections
  • Childhood Leukemia
  • Diabetes
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of:

  • High Blood Pressure & High Blood Fats
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Heart Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Type 2 Diabetes

Of course, there can be other benefits as well from cost savings to more intimacy with your child.

Breastfeeding Basics

So if you’re planning on going for breast instead of formula (or both), here’s our handy guide to breastfeeding. These hold true for all three stages of breast milk: colostrum (protein, vitamins, and minerals), transitional milk, and mature milk.

How To Get Started

First things first, you need to learn the ideal positioning for your baby and how to get them to latch onto your nipple.


There are a few options when it comes to positions.

  • The Cradle Position
    Your baby is nestled in the crook of your elbow and faces you. If you are recovering from a C-section, holding your baby like a football can take the pressure off of your healing stomach. Support their head and neck in your palm.
  • The Side-lying Position
    You lay in bed and lift your breast into your baby’s mouth. Then there’s the laid-back position. In this, both of your fronts touch while you are slightly leaned back.

Ultimately, whatever is comfortable and relaxing for your baby is the best one.


A good position is just as important as a good latch. If your baby doesn’t latch on well, your nipples can get sore or cracked and they may not get enough milk. Make sure that your baby’s mouth covers both your nipple and areola. Their mouth, tongue, and lips should compress the milk gland.

You can brush your nipple against your baby’s lips so that your baby’s mouth opens wide. If this doesn’t work, squeeze some colostrum or milk onto their lips. Let your baby take initiative and grasp your breast.

Once your baby’s chin and the tip of their nose are touching your breast, you should have a good latch. Their lips should be a bit spread. For newborns, make sure that they’re actually sucking on you and not their own lip or tongue. You’ll then see a steady suckling. Babies will suck, swallow, and breathe repeatedly. If you hear clicking noises, adjust the latch.

How Long To Breastfeed

Typical breastfeeding sessions last between 20 and 30 minutes. This may change as your baby adjusts or goes through growth spurts. Aim to drain at least one breast fully during each session.

You’ll know that your baby is done if their suck and swallow pattern slows down. They may also drift off to sleep. From there you can offer them your other breast with a nudge. Or let them sleep until the next feeding.

How Breastfeeding Schedules Work

As you and your baby get used to nursing, you may notice your rhythms are a bit off. Sometimes you’ll have more milk or not enough. That’s where pumping and breastfeeding schedules can be useful.

The goal is to feed your baby when they’re hungry. Ideally, you’re aiming for 8-12 feedings every 24 hours. That roughly comes out to every two to three hours. Of course, schedules can vary.

Once you get a handle on your own milk supply you can figure out whether or not you need to pump more to cover a later feeding. This can also free your time up a little. When a baby takes breastmilk from a bottle, other caregivers can handle feedings.

How To Store Your Breastmilk Safely

Once you start regularly pumping, you’ll need to get into a routine to store your supply. You have a few options. Many parents use a combination. You can:

  • Keep milk at room temp. It’s okay for up to four hours.
  • Refrigerate. Typically, breastmilk lasts for four days in the fridge.
  • Freeze. If you aren’t sure you’ll get to it in those four days, go ahead and freeze it after pumping.
  • Keep it in a cooler. On the road? Throw your breastmilk into a cooler or a container with an insulated cooler pack. It can last this way for 24 hours after pumping. Then it should be stored in the fridge or freezer.

Breastfeeding Resources

Breastfeeding is not something you have to tackle alone. There are a number of resources available for you and your family. Don’t be afraid to reach out to:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Lactation consultants or a nurse who has a specialization in lactation
  • Your doula
  • Local mom support groups
  • Your pediatrician
  • Your physician
  • Also reach out to your doctor if you are experiencing unusual discharge, bleeding, or swelling.
  • National Women’s Health and Breastfeeding Helpline (800-994-9662, 9 am to 6 pm)
  • La Leche League International (877-4-LALECHE)

People may be able to offer you guidance, advice, or even suggestions for breastfeeding supplements if you are worried about milk production. When it comes down to it, there’s more than one way to breastfeed. You and your baby will figure it out together.

With breastfeeding handled, your next step is to find a compassionate caregiver you trust. Find the child care you need on Sittercity.

Secured By miniOrange