Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: August 2016 - The Benefits of Breastfeeding

    August 23, 2016

    Are you thinking of breastfeeding your new baby? Great! Here are some important facts.

    What is breastfeeding?
    A woman’s body naturally makes milk after she gives birth. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that breastfeeding is best for all infants. You can choose to only breastfeed your child, or combine it with another type of nourishment, like formula.

    Why breastfeed?
    Breast milk is the best food for your baby. It is easy for your baby to digest. It has just the right nutrition and it costs less than formula. And it helps build a loving bond with your baby.

    Benefits for mothers:

    • Breastfeeding helps you recover more quickly and lose your “baby weight.”
    • Breast feeding lowers your chance of developing certain breast or ovarian cancers, diabetes and high blood pressure.

    Benefits for babies:

    • Breast milk has antibodies, a substance made by the body to fight infections. Breast fed babies typically don’t get sick as often. They are less likely to get ear infections or diarrhea. And it lessens the chance that they will develop allergies or asthma.
    • May prevent childhood obesity.
    • Lessens their chance of having skin problem, like eczema.
    • They will have fewer stomach and digestion problems.

    How long should I breastfeed my baby?
    The American Academy of Pediatrics urges mothers to feed their babies only breast milk for the first 6 months. Moms should keep breastfeeding for 12 months or longer, if both baby and mom still want to.

    Is breastfeeding safe for all mothers and babies?
    No. Some medicines or health problems may make it unsafe to breastfeed. Also, some infections can get into your baby’s system through your breast milk. Here are some examples of when breastfeeding is unsafe:

    • If you have untreated tuberculosis (TB)
    • If you are using street drugs
    • If you are HIV +
    • If you smoke

    Can I take medicine if I am breastfeeding?
    Many, but not all, medications are safe to take when you are breastfeeding. Almost any drug that you take will pass to your baby through breast milk. Always check with your health care provider before you take any medicines. This includes over the counter and herbal products.

    What about formula?
    It is your decision whether or not to breastfeed. Don’t feel bad if you decide that breastfeeding is not for you. Both formula and breast milk give your baby the nutrition she/he needs. Think about the good points and not so good points of each choice. Decide what works for you.

    To learn more, please visit:
    American Academy of Pediatrics: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/100/6/1035.full
    Breastfeeding Hotline: 1.800. 994.9662 or http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding

    Sources:
    United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service - Women, Infants and Children (WIC): http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/breastfeeding-promotion-and-support-wic
    WomensHealth.gov: http://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/handling_breastmilk.htm
    Mayo Clinic - “Infant and Toddler Health”: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/basics/infant-and-toddler-health/hlv-20049400


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