Thursday, February 9, 2012

Q&A with a Doctor: Benefits of Breastfeeding

Q. How do I make the decision to breastfeed?

I am a first time mother, due in 6 weeks. I am very excited about the pregnancy and want to do everything I can to support the health of my baby. I have received regular prenatal care since I was 8 weeks pregnant, but my doctor and I have never talked about breastfeeding. At 20 weeks the doctor’s office gave me a sample of formula but no other information about feeding my baby after she is born. I know the delivery nurses at the hospital will talk to me about breastfeeding, but I really want to make a decision before she is born. How can I decide if breastfeeding is the best option for me and my baby?

A. From Alice Gong, MD:

Congratulations on your pregnancy. I can tell that you are a very caring expectant mother who wants to do the very best for your newborn. You are certainly right to be thinking about breastfeeding at this time. I wish that your doctor had taken the time to tell you about the wonders of lactation. Your body is preparing you right now so that you can provide not only the best nutrition for your baby but also to continue to protect your baby from infections by continuing to boost her immunity. Breastfed babies have a much lower risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases, cancers, diabetes and obesity. In addition, women who breastfeed their babies have lower risk of ovarian and breast cancer. The added benefit to you is that you will lose the pregnancy weight much faster when you lactate. You are absolutely right about making the decision before your baby is born because there are many things that you can do from the minute she is born to get the best benefits from breastfeeding. For more information, please go to this website: http://www.breastmilkcounts.com.

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