Employee & Community Health

Your Care Team shares tips on the benefits of breast milk

8/3/2015

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As any new parent can tell you, babies eat ... a lot. Most parents know that breast milk is good for their baby, but with all the changes after the birth of a baby, many feel overwhelmed with figuring out how to get breastfeeding established. 

Here are a few breastfeeding tips to help you and your baby make this transition as comfortably as possible: 

  • Most babies are ready to latch within the first hour after birth. A mothers' first milk is called colostrum and has many important functions including: 
    • Food for the baby
    • Immune properties that help provide protection against illness
    • Breast stimulation to help activate maternal hormones that contract the uterus and reduce bleeding in the mom
  • A newborn's stomach capacity is about one teaspoon, so a little colostrum goes a long way. By the time the mother's milk comes in around three to five days after birth, the stomach capacity has grown to 34-48 mL. 
  • Establishing a good milk supply is accomplished by doing what the baby does best -- eating! Newborns should be brought to the breast at least eight to 10 times a day. 
  • Some newborns may have periods where they will nurse more frequently, called cluster feeding. This is a natural way for the baby to stimulate the mother's body to make more milk. 
  • If the newborn isn't able to nurse right away, a breast pump should be used eight to 10 times per day to stimulate milk production. 

Breastfeeding may seem natural, but it actually takes work and practice. Severe pain in the breasts, a very sleep baby or a decrease in wet/soiled diapers is a sign that the baby is not nursing correctly. 

Your baby's primary care team, a lactation specialist in the hospital or community or mother's support groups can help answer your questions or concerns. Mayo Clinic Hospital - Methodist Campus has a support group that meets every Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Call 507-284-5143 for details.