SWM Breast Feeding
Anita Henderson, MD is Associate Medical Director of Pediatrics for Southwest Medical Associates. In addition to caring for the health needs of children, she answers the questions and concerns of new parents, including questions about breastfeeding.
There’s one breastfeeding fact that needs to be addressed: it is not against the law to breastfeed in public. In fact, nearly all states - including Nevada - have laws that protect mothers who choose to breastfeed in public. And, with certain exceptions, federal law mandates that employers provide reasonable break times throughout the workday for employees who are mothers to pump breast milk.
The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that all babies, with some exceptions, be breastfed or receive breast milk exclusively for the first six months.
For the babies, they have reduced incidents or reduced severity of such conditions as asthma, allergies, and eczema. There are substances in breast milk that help protect against viruses and bacteria from adhering to the gastrointestinal track and preventing illness. There are other substances in breast milk that help with the good bacteria in the gut to flourish in those intestinal tracts of infants which results in healthier babies and fewer illnesses.
In Nevada about 80% of mom’s breast feed. After 6 months, about 37% of moms are still breast feeding.
There are benefits not just to infants, but to mothers and even for the family:
- Studies show that it can provide babies with a strong immune system and lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Also, mother's milk is easier to digest than formula.
For mothers, breastfeeding provides:
- Decreased risk of postpartum hemorrhage, and
- A decreased risk of breast, ovarian, and uterine cancers.
For families, there can be a tremendous financial benefit:Breastfeeding is free compared to the cost of formula and accessories
- Breastfeeding is free compared to the cost of formula and accessories
How often a child feeds depends on age and individual needs -
- Newborns need to be fed every 1.5 hours to 3 hours, which is about 8 to 12 or more times per 24 hours.
- A child is getting plenty of breast milk if it’s steadily gaining weight, producing at least six wet diapers a day and is content between feedings.
It is a myth that a mother needs to drink milk to make milk –
- Mothers should drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluids (water, juice, milk) a day to produce enough milk and to stay hydrated.
- Also, moms only need an additional 400 - 500 calories a day to retain their energy levels.
For more information and support on these topics, consult your pediatrician – you can also visit nevadabreastfeeds.org