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World Breastfeeding Week: Deciding to breastfeed

Portland Family Birth Place, Body, Women's Health, Show on Corporate Home

When you have a baby for the first time, there are so many things to learn how to do—giving a bath, installing the car seat, changing diapers and breastfeeding. Most of these are learned quickly, however breastfeeding may take a bit of support and education from a pediatrician, nurse or lactation consultant at the hospital.

You will learn from your hospital team that breast milk has many benefits. These include:

  • In the first days after birth, breast milk is filled with beneficial nutrients that boost baby’s immune system and help the digestive tract develop.
  • If your baby is premature, breast milk aids in their health and may provide protection from chronic or fatal conditions.
  • Breast milk contains the adequate amount of nutrients baby needs for growth.
  • Breast milk is easy for baby’s body to break down and results in less upset stomachs and other digestive issues.
  • Breast milk promotes a healthy weight that will generally follow baby throughout childhood.
  • Breast milk lessens the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Breast milk has been shown to protect against allergies and several diseases such as asthma, diabetes and reduce the risk of developing others like leukemia.

If you aren’t sure how to breastfeed, there are nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital to help you right away. You’ll learn how to position baby and make sure they are latching on properly as well as how to produce quality milk. If you have questions once you go home, talk with your pediatrician.

As with pregnancy, there are many healthy choices you can make to keep your milk filled with the nutrients baby needs.

  • Continue to eat a healthy, balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Stay hydrated but monitor caffeine intake. Too much caffeine may make it difficult for baby to sleep.
  • Do your best to sleep and exercise moderately.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks. If you do have a drink, don’t breastfeed for two hours.
  • Avoid smoking and cigarette smoke. Secondhand smoke has been shown to increase the risk of SIDS and contribute to the development of respiratory illnesses.
  • Discuss all your medications with your physician before breastfeeding to make sure they won’t negatively impact baby.

Breastfeeding also benefits you by helping you decrease the risk of postpartum depression, helps you lose pregnancy weight, lowering the risk of diseases such as breast and ovarian cancer and creating a special closeness with baby.

While there are many positive reasons for breastfeeding, it is a personal choice and not everyone is able to breastfeed. That’s ok! Your pediatrician can talk to you about formula options that can benefit your baby.

Being proactive in care for your whole family includes finding a medical home that’s right for you. Adventist Health offers a wide range of providers from family medicine and pediatricians to subspecialty care for all ages. Find a provider near you by visiting