Breastfeeding Your Baby
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby. It has special nutrients your baby needs that aren’t found in formula. Breastfeeding can also be an amazing way to bond with your baby. Since 95% of babies start out life breastfeeding, you will be in good company! Breastfeeding is a great way to help your baby get a healthy start in life.
Why Is Breastfeeding So Important?
Breast milk changes to meet the needs of your growing baby. It changes in both quantity and nutrients depending on what your baby needs. Breast milk also gives your baby protection against illness and infection! Breastfeeding helps you and your baby stay healthy.
- Babies can easily digest breast milk and have less constipation and diarrhea.
- Breastfed babies have fewer earaches, colds, and allergies and are less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Every month of breastfeeding reduces your baby’s risk of becoming an overweight child.
- Breastfeeding saves money because you have fewer doctors’ bills and do not have to buy formula.
- Breastfeeding can help you lose weight after your baby is born. Did you know producing breast milk burns about 400 calories a day?
Experts recommend breastfeeding for at least the first year of life. Breastmilk is the only food babies need during the first six months of life.
Where Can I Find Support for Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn't mean it's always easy! If you have trouble breastfeeding, or have questions, remember that you and your baby will figure out what works best together. There is lots of support available. The WIC Program is a good place to learn how to breastfeed and address any concerns you might have. Their peer counselor program pairs you with someone who’s been there!
If you have had difficult past experiences or have a partner who is controlling or not supportive, you might be concerned about the idea of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a personal choice that only you can make. If you’re feeling concerned, know that you aren’t alone and that there are people who can help you talk through your decision and, if necessary, figure out how to respond to your partner. To talk about your choices, call the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-779-SAFE.
What Happens When I Go Back to School or Work?
When you go back to school or work, you can still give your baby the benefits of breastfeeding. Remember—some breast milk is better than no breast milk, and every ounce counts! Check out this guide on the transition back to school or work.
Using a breast pump to save your milk is a great idea. It can also be a great way for your relatives, friends, or your baby’s dad to be involved in feeding your baby and give you a break. For help finding the right pump, talk to a lactation consultant (breastfeeding expert), a La Leche League Leader, or a WIC breastfeeding peer counselor. If you receive WIC benefits, ask about a free or low-cost breast pump.
For referrals to breastfeeding resources and support, call our hotline at 1-800-322-2588 search here.
What Birth Control Can I Use While I’m Breastfeeding?
You can get pregnant soon after you have your baby, even if you are breastfeeding. When breastfeeding, birth control without hormones, like condoms, a diaphragm, or a copper IUD should be considered first. If you want to use a hormonal birth control method, it is important to choose a method that contains little or none of the hormone estrogen, which may decrease your milk supply. Talk to your health care provider about which birth control method is best for you, and read more about your options here.
How Do I Manage Breastfeeding in Public?
Washington State law protects women’s right to breastfeed in public under an anti-discrimination law. This means nobody can tell you not to, so you can feel confident about feeding your baby in public. Also, most employers are required to provide breastfeeding mothers with unpaid break time and a private place to pump breast milk at work.
If the idea of breastfeeding in public makes you feel shy, take it slow. Once you get the hang of things at home, you’ll find that you don’t need to expose your entire breast when you feed your baby. There are also a number of ways to use a light cloth to cover up, so no one has to see what’s going on. Wear clothes that allow easy access, like tops that button down or pull up from the waist.
What If I Choose Not to Breastfeed?
Experts believe breast milk is the healthiest choice for infants, but breastfeeding may not be possible for all women. Many moms make the decision to breastfeed or formula feed based on their comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical concerns. For moms who choose not to breastfeed, infant formula is the alternative.
With formula, you need to learn how much your baby needs, what kind, and how often, as well as how to prepare and store the formula. If money is tight, the WIC Program offers checks to buy nutritious foods for mom and baby, including formula. The checks will not cover all the cost of the formula you will need, but will help a lot, and you can use the checks at most grocery stores. For more information about WIC, call our hotline at 1-800-322-2588 or find your local WIC clinic here.
Whether breastfeeding or formula feeding, all moms want to know that their babies are getting enough milk. One way to tell is by how many dirty diapers you are changing. Learn more here.
Find lots of great information and support for breastfeeding moms here.
Learn more about breastfeeding challenges and solutions
This website has information for both breastfeeding and formula-feeding moms.
Read the answers to common concerns about formula feeding.