By Shilpa Vernekar, M.D.
Along with the excitement of seeing the positive pregnancy test, sharing the news with friends and family, finding out the baby’s gender and decorating the nursery in pink, blue or neutral colors, expectant moms tend to do feel anticipation and nervousness about parenthood. First-time moms-to-be may be especially anxious about the topic of breastfeeding. Many may have preconceived ideas about whether to bottle feed or breast feed stemming from the way that their own parents did things, the thoughts and opinions of friends and coworkers or research on the Internet regarding the pros and cons.
In addition to considering these opinions, it is especially important to select a pediatrician for your baby during the third trimester of pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A pediatrician is well-equipped to address concerns with expectant parents and to answer any questions related to newborns, including questions regarding breastfeeding. At Preferred Medical Group, we are happy to meet expectant parents before the baby arrives. We arrange a private tour of our office and a one-on-one meeting with one of our pediatricians, who will become an advocate and resource for your family during this exciting journey
Here are some of the most common questions, which we are asked during Expectant Parent Meet-and-Greets, as well as our advice for you:
Should I breast feed?
First, relax, and take a deep breath. All mothers for the past thousands of years have done it. Long before formulas became available and mainstream in the U.S. in the 1980’s, breast milk was the only option available. It still is the only option in developing countries.
You have always heard how breast milk is the best milk for your precious little one and not only provides adequate nutrition but also promotes and strengthens the bond between you and your baby.
So should I breast feed? YES, you should.
The exception would be medical contraindications, which are few, and will be brought up by your OBGYN.
Is it best for my baby?
You know the answer already. Yes, it is. Breast milk offers all of the nourishment and nutrients that will benefit your baby. In this instance, natural is certainly the best option.
So what are the benefits for my baby?
- Breast milk meets the nutrients and water requirements that your baby needs.
- Breast milk undergoes changes in composition and quantity with your baby’s growing needs.
- Many studies have shown that colostrum (the milk that is produced during the first few days) and breast milk helps to strengthen the immune system, as all maternal antibodies are transmitted in the breast milk, providing protection to the baby until he/she is able to produce these antibodies independently.
- Babies who have been breast fed have been noted to have fewer respiratory, and gastrointestinal illnesses.
- Additionally, babies who are breast fed experience a decreased incidence of allergies and asthma.
Are there benefits for mothers as well? Absolutely.
- Breastfeeding promotes a sense of wellbeing and satisfaction.
- It helps the uterus to return to its pre pregnancy size, and because the body uses calories to produce breast milk, it helps moms to lose baby weight more quickly.
- Exclusive breast feeding for the first few months may also protect you from pregnancy during those months.
- With an additional member to the family and an increase in expenses, breast milk will help you save money that would otherwise be spent on formula, bottles and cleaning agents.
So, how long should I breast feed?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast feeding exclusively for the first 6 months of your baby’s life, and then as desired by baby and mother.
How will I able to do it?
Breastfeeding comes naturally. Your body has been working hard to keep the milk ready as soon as your baby arrives. It is available 24 x 7 on demand and in as much quantity as your baby needs. There is no need to clean bottles, no preparation, no mixing or measuring the right amount of water and formula. Unless there are medical reasons, your body produces breast milk that is sufficient for your baby. Working mothers can pump and store breast milk for future use.
It may seem hard in the beginning, but most good things in life don’t come easily. After all, you want to provide the best for your baby, and there is nothing that will or ever can top the list -other than breast milk.
Please check this website again, as we will be publishing two more parts to this blog series for expectant parents in order to address common questions and concerns, including colic and bonding with your newborn baby. However, we recommend scheduling a discussion with your baby’s pediatrician to discuss your individual circumstances in further detail.
Dr. Vernekar, M.D., F.A.A.P. is a board-certified pediatrician who works at Preferred Medical Group, which has locations at Phenix City Children’s and Fort Mitchell Clinic. Her special areas of interest include weight management and nutrition.