Content source: Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment – Nutrition Services/WIC Program. WIC #B04 (11/2014) and #B02 4-2013
The recommendation for breastfeeding is to breastfeed exclusively during the first 6 months after delivery, and continue for 12 months, and thereafter, as long as the mother and the baby wish. Breast milk is the best food for babies and has many benefits for mother and baby.
Perfect food for your baby
The first few weeks of breastfeeding are a learning time for both mom and baby. It is very common for mothers to feel overwhelmed and wonder if they are meeting the baby’s needs. Be patient with yourself, breastfeeding takes time to go smoothly.
- Breast milk provides all the nutrients for good growth and development. Breast milk is easy to digest. Breast milk is better than any infant formula milk
- Breast milk protects a baby against common infant illnesses. The antibodies in breast milk protects the baby against diarrhea, ear infections, respiratory system infections, and other illnesses.
- Breastfed babies have fewer allergies than formula-fed babies. Breast milk provides protection against asthma, food allergies, and hay fever.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Benefits for the mothers
- Breastfeeding promotes a special bond between you and your baby. Nothing is more comforting for a child of any age than to be held while breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Studies show that the longer you breastfeed, the lower your risk for these types of cancer.
- Breastfeeding helps you lose weight after delivery. Breastfeeding helps your uterus rapidly shrink to its pre-pregnancy size. Your body uses approximately 500 calories a day to produce milk.
No solids or other liquids are needed for the first 6 months of life.
Offering cereal or formula milk does not help the baby sleep through the night, and can interfere with breastfeeding.
Introducing solids early can cause allergic reactions, decreased milk production, and early weaning.
Gain the confidence to breastfeed your baby before it is born as the WIC Peer Counselor and breastfeeding mothers. Watching videos, attending a breastfeeding class, and a support group are also great ways to learn about breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding uses calories and you may feel hungry more often. Eating 3 meals and snacks will help you have energy throughout the day.
- Eat a variety of foods with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Continue taking your prenatal vitamins while breastfeeding.
- Drink fluids like water, milk, and soups to satisfy your thirst. Have a nutritious drink every time you breastfeed.
- It is okay to eat all foods. Some mothers worry that they cannot eat foods like chocolate, cabbage, broccoli, or spicy foods while breastfeeding. If your baby seems to be fussy after eating a certain food, it is best to avoid it for a while and try again in a few weeks.
- Don’t worry if her diet isn’t “perfect.” You will still be able to breastfeed successfully.
Drinking or Smoking and Other Concerns While Breastfeeding
Alcohol and Nicotine
- It is best not to drink alcohol while breastfeeding. The alcohol in beer, wine, and liquor pass quickly into milk. Drinking alcohol can harm your baby.
- If you choose to drink, do so only occasionally, in small amounts and after breastfeeding. Try not to drink any alcohol during the baby’s first month of life. If you have a problem with alcohol, seek help and do not breastfeed.
- You should avoid smoking while breastfeeding. Nicotine and other harmful products pass into breast milk. If you can’t quit, try cutting back on cigarettes and smoking after breastfeeding rather than before.
- Some babies may be sensitive to caffeine and other ingredients in energy drinks. If your baby seems fussy after you have a caffeinated drink, try to drink less.
- Do not use marijuana, recreational or medically indicated, while breastfeeding. The main compound, THC, can put the baby’s brain development at risk.