Breastfeeding has many benefits. It may lower your baby's chances of getting an infection. It also may prevent your baby from having problems such as diabetes and high cholesterol later in life. Breastfeeding also helps you bond with your baby.
Doctors advise breastfeeding for up to 2 years and beyond. But your baby benefits from any amount of breastfeeding you can do. Breast milk is the only food your baby needs until about 6 months of age. You do not need to give your baby food, water, or juice. After that, you will gradually breastfeed less often as your baby starts to eat other foods. But keep breastfeeding for as long as you and your child want to. Your baby continues to get health benefits from breast milk.
In the first days after birth, your breasts make a thick, yellow liquid called colostrum. This liquid gives your baby nutrients and antibodies against infection. It is all that babies need in the first days after birth. Your breasts will fill with milk a few days after the birth.
Breastfeeding is a skill that gets better with practice. It is common to have some problems. Some women have sore or cracked nipples, blocked milk ducts, or a breast infection (mastitis). But if you feed your baby every 1 to 2 hours during the day and follow the tips on this sheet, you may not have these problems. You can treat these problems if they happen and continue breastfeeding.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor, midwife, or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 16, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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