Breastfeeding 101

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

Mother breastfeeding her baby girl

Congratulations; you are having a baby!

There are plenty of important decisions to make about the first days of your child’s life. One such decision that you should start looking at is the choice of breastfeeding. Your doctor may have advice or information for breastfeeding, particularly if you are on any type of medication, but you should also read and decide for yourself. And, if after the baby comes, you change your mind, that’s allowed, too.

Why breastfeed my baby?

According to the United States Federal Government, via, breastfeeding is important because of the nutrients available through the mother.

  1. Colostrum: this is the thick mother’s milk that comes right after the birth of the baby. It is extremely dense in fat and nutrients, helping the baby get stronger and bigger faster, even though he is a tiny thing and can only drink a little at a time.
  2. Your breast milk changes: Unlike a formula in a bottle, your body supplies a change in nutrients as your baby ages. You are biologically set up to support your baby’s life as he grows.
  3. Antibodies: Your body produces antibodies. When these are fed to your baby, research shows that he will have less chance of dangerous illnesses and communicable disease.
  4. For You: your body is designed to breast feed after the baby is born. As an added bonus, breastfeeding burns calories and fat stores as you supply nutrients to the baby.

How can I breast feed if I am not staying home past the initial stage?

What happens then?

Many women work or take on other responsibilities that make it difficult to carve out breastfeeding time. Sometimes other care-givers will be feeding your baby, or for other reasons, you will need to bottle feed. The good news is that bottle-feeding does not have to be formula feeding unless you want it to be. You can pump and store your breast nutritious milk.

There are many kinds of breast pumps. A manual pump takes quite a bit of work, where an electric pump does the work for you. For some women, feeding and pumping at the same time gives them the opportunity to feed the baby while storing some for a later event.

If you do decide to pump, don’t get discouraged by the small amount you get at first. This could take time for your body to get used to. Put the milk into freezer-safe baggies. Many breast pump companies offer their own freezer-safe bags that have measuring units on the side and a place to mark the date. It is important to mark the date, and use the oldest milk first. According to, breast milk is ok to leave out at room temperature for up to 8 hours. If it is going to be longer than that, refrigerate it. If it will be a week or more before you will use that particular milk, go ahead and freeze it.

Once the breast milk is frozen, thaw it slowly. Place it in a container of warm (not hot) water until it is thawed. You can also work a schedule out so that you have a certain amount thawing in the refrigerator at a time, and keep track of use for that week.

If breastfeeding does not work out, don’t beat yourself up

Breastfeeding is a personal choice. If for some reason, it is not working out for you, the last thing you need to do is give yourself a guilt trip about it. You have enough on your plate with a new baby at home. There are many fantastic formulas on the market, and your pediatrician may ask for you to try one, especially if your little one is having a hard time digesting your milk. These things happen.

SML TIP:  If you need more information about breastfeeding your baby the Le Leche League is the go-to volunteer organization to help you in this sensitive time of need.  A Le Leche coach can come to your home and help you with steps that will make breast feeding more comfortable for you.  Don’t be afraid to reach out.

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