As you prepare for baby don’t forget to take a moment to consider how you’ll be feeding your new baby — breastmilk or formula. The experts at Avera are available before, during and after pregnancy to answer questions and provide help. Breastmilk is proven to benefit both mother and baby. It can lower baby’s risk of a number of illnesses ranging from ear infections and stomach troubles to RSV and long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes. Breastfed babies are also less likely to die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed:
• Exclusively the first six months
• Combined with food until at least 12 months old
If you choose to breastfeed, consider these points:
1. We can help get you started.
We offer breastfeeding support at each of our six regional hospitals. These specialists support mothers in the hospital and through follow-up visits after they go home. Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls and Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen have International Board Certified Lactation Consultants — the highest level of certification available for lactation consultants.
2. Be patient, there is a learning curve.
You and your baby may hit some bumps while you get used to each other, and that’s normal.
Breastfeeding specialists can meet with you to help you get past some of the challenges:
• Latching problems
• Sore nipples
• Milk production
• Proper positioning
• Breast pump selection and proper use
Women typically know in two to three weeks what to expect in terms of milk production, said Lynn Josten, Coordinator of Breastfeeding Support Services at Avera McKennan, who is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. But it takes longer before breastfeeding in general starts to feel natural and routine.
“I always tell mothers the first couple of months is like a fourth trimester,” Josten said. “You need to adjust to being a new parent.”
3. Every woman is different.
A lot of factors will play into what works best for you and your family, ranging from work schedules to chronic conditions and family size. Breastfeeding specialists and providers can help you be successful in whatever goals you have.
Experts agree that exclusive breastfeeding is a great goal, yet it’s also important to remember that any amount of breastmilk is good for baby.
“When I talk to a mother about her goals I always talk in terms of there being no right or wrong with breastfeeding. There’s just good, better and best,” said Kim Richter, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Coordinator of the Lactation Program at Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen.
4. Don’t feel guilty.
You may have trouble producing enough milk to feed your baby. Breastfeeding experts can help you consider the option that’s best for you. This may include supplementing with formula, medication or choosing to exclusively use formula.
“I think we have an assumption that breastfeeding is going to be very easy and very natural for all moms,” said Dawn Boender, MD, OB/GYN with Avera Medical Group Obstetrics and Gynecology Mitchell. “We’re here to help and encourage moms, but I also tell them if they’re struggling not to get too stressed out about it.”
5. Enjoy the ride.
The weeks after your baby is born can mean little sleep and a lot of worry that you’re doing things right. Don’t be afraid to lean on your spouse, friends and family for support. And remember, feeding times provide important bonding moments with your baby. Enjoy the snuggles while you can.