Reducing Racial Disparities
Addressing Extreme Prematurity
Eliminating Sleep-Related Deaths
Breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby. A mother’s breast milk provides perfect nutrition, immune properties and live antibodies that help to nourish and protect the baby from illness. Also, according to research, the longer you exclusively breastfeed your baby (meaning not supplementing with formula), the lower his or her risk of SIDS. Breastfeeding offers many other benefits as well, for both baby and mom.
We know every mother and baby is different, but the more you learn about breastfeeding before your baby is born, the better prepared you’ll be. And having support along the way can make your breastfeeding journey easier and more fulfilling.
Most hospitals will encourage you to put your baby to breast after birth, and we agree. Also, keep your baby in your room so you can breastfeed frequently. Newborns breastfeed often, averaging eight to 12 feedings per day.
Although breastfeeding may seem simple and straightforward, it’s a learning time for you and your baby, and sometimes new moms run into complications. It’s nothing to be worried about, but getting the hang of breastfeeding may take some time and perseverance. Just try to be patient. As you and your baby learn to breastfeed, you will find it’s a good time to relax and enjoy each other.
Our friends at WIC have put together a comprehensive resource page with everything you need to know about breastfeeding. From learning how milk is made and when to nurse, to common breastfeeding challenges, different breastfeeding holds, learning to pump and express milk and more — you can find everything you need to know right here.
Nutrition is very important for breastfeeding mothers, with more calories needed to meet their nutritional needs while breastfeeding. In general, you may need to eat a little more — an additional 330 to 400 calories a day — to give you the energy and nutrition to produce milk. Choose foods rich in nutrients, like slices of whole grain bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter, a medium banana or apple, and 8 ounces of yogurt.
Focus on making healthy choices to help your milk production. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are all healthy options. Be sure to include a well-balanced variety of protein (seafood, lean meats, poultry, beans, peas, lentils, nuts and eggs), and limit foods and beverages that are high in added sugar, saturated fat and sodium. Seafood is a healthy protein source that may also benefit your baby’s growth and it’s good for you, both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Some healthy choices include cod, salmon, tilapia or herring. But we also want you to know that no matter what your diet is — even if you only drink orange pop and eat flaming hot chips — your breast milk is always the best milk for your baby! Eating healthy helps you feel good, though.
Your calorie needs may change during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The USDA offers MyPlate Plan to help you determine how many calories are good for you. Be sure to work with your health care provider to ensure you’re getting the right amount of calories.
Breastfeeding not only helps you bond with your baby, being near your baby can help you learn when your baby is hungry and helps support breastfeeding. You can breastfeed your baby in your own bed, but when finished feeding, be sure to put your baby back into his or her own separate safe sleep space, within view and within reach from where you sleep. NEVER sleep in the same bed as your baby. This increases a baby’s risk of sleep-related death, including sudden infant death syndrome, accidental suffocation, and accidental strangulation. (About 3,700 babies die each year in the U.S. from preventable sleep-related causes.)
Always follow the ABCDs of Safe Sleep: Your baby should always sleep ALONE in a crib, bassinet, portable crib or play yard with a firm mattress and tight-fitting sheet. Always place your baby on his or her BACK for all sleep times – naps and night, until their first birthday. The CRIB should be empty, with no pillows, blankets, toys or crib bumpers. And DON’T SMOKE or let anyone smoke anywhere near your baby. Babies exposed to second-hand smoke are more susceptible to developing respiratory problems and are more at risk of SIDS. Learn more about the ABCDs of Safe Sleep here.
Currently, there is no clinical evidence indicating the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through breast milk. To date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk. In fact, researchers have found that the cells that make your breast milk do not have the receptors or biological gates that COVID-19 needs to enter, so your breast milk is always virus-free. COVID-19 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, so using a mask and handwashing are what prevents it from infecting anyone else.
From the World Health Organization: “Mothers and infants should be enabled to remain together and practice skin-to-skin contact … and to practice rooming-in throughout the day and night, especially immediately after birth during establishment of breastfeeding, whether they or their infants have suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 virus infection.”
Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19. The vaccination is recommended for all people age 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future.
Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect their babies. More data are needed to determine what protection these antibodies may provide to the baby. We encourage you to get vaccinated against COVID-19 – talk with your provider.
To help ensure safe breastfeeding practices, and to answer your questions, the Ohio Department of Health has implemented a toll-free 24/7 Statewide Breastfeeding Hotline available to everyone across the state.
It is operated by The Appalachian Breastfeeding Network and staffed by live, trained lactation professionals. Services are available free of charge to all callers, including mothers, their families and partners, expectant parents, and health care providers. The hotline number is 1-888-588-3423. Learn more here.
The links on this page provide additional information on breastfeeding support agencies, organizations and individuals in Ohio and elsewhere who can help with any problems or concerns related to breastfeeding.
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