Breastfeeding Protects You and Baby
In this article:
- August is National Breastfeeding Month! Breastfeeding provides many health benefits for babies and mothers. Join us in celebrating mothers and breastfeeding parents as we highlight some of the published research on its benefits.
- Infants who are breastfed have reduced risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, severe lower respiratory disease, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, and gastrointestinal infections.
- Breastfeeding can help lower a mother’s risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.
Join us for interactive education around breastfeeding and support:
- Breastfeeding preparation classes
- Breastfeeding and newborn care comprehensive classes
- Birth & Beyond class series
- Lactation Support | Providence
August is National Breastfeeding Month — a month dedicated to advancing advocacy, protection, and promotion of breastfeeding to ensure that all families have the opportunity to breastfeed. The 2023 National Breastfeeding Month theme, This is Our Why, is designed to highlight why lactation care is so important and to focus on the babies and families who need lactation support. During this month, let’s join hands and promote breastfeeding.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated globally every year during the first week of August. Following a surge in the infant mortality rate due to a drop in the number of mothers who breastfed, the initiative became essential. The 2023 WBW theme is Enabling Breastfeeding, Making a Difference for Working Parents.
The remaining weeks of National Breastfeeding Month celebrate the lactation experiences of Indigenous, Asian American, Black and Latina/x communities.
Signs of a Good Latch
Signs of a good latch include the following:
- The latch feels comfortable to you and does not feel like a bite or pinch.
- Your baby's chin touches the breast, cheeks are even on the breast and your baby’s nose is clear of the breast.
- When your baby is positioned well, his or her mouth will be filled with breast.
- The baby's tongue is cupped under the breast, so you might not see the baby's tongue.
- You hear or see your baby swallow. Some babies swallow so quietly that a pause in their breathing may be the only sign of swallowing.
- You see the baby's ears "wiggle" slightly.
- Your baby's lips turn outward like fish lips, not inward. You may not even be able to see the baby's bottom lip.
To learn more about common breastfeeding holds, latch problems, and ways to resolve them, visit: PhysicianGuidetoBreastfeeding.org, evidence-based guidance for families and the communities that support them.
How to Know if You Make Enough
Your breasts make milk in response to your baby’s suckling. The more your baby nurses, the more milk your breasts will make. Knowing how your breasts make milk can help you understand the breastfeeding process.
Many mothers worry about making enough milk to feed their babies. Some women worry that their small breast size will make it harder to feed their babies enough milk. But women of all sizes can make plenty of milk for their baby. The more often your baby breastfeeds, the more milk your breasts will make.
Your baby's weight should double in the first few months. Because babies' tummies are small, they need many feedings to grow and be healthy. You can tell if your baby is getting enough milk by the number of wet diapers he has in a day and if he is gaining weight.
If you think you have or will have a low milk supply, talk to a lactation consultant before your baby is born if possible. Visit the Finding support and information section for other types of health professionals who can help you.
For more information on breastmilk changes and supply, visit Physician Guide to Breastfeeding for Parents, Physicians, Lactation Consultants, Doulas for evidence-based guidance for families and the communities that support them.
Health Professionals that can help
Breastfeeding moms can get help from different types of health professionals, organizations, and members of their own families.
These professionals can help with breastfeeding:
- International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs). IBCLCs are certified breastfeeding professionals with the highest level of knowledge and skill in breastfeeding support. IBCLCs help with a wide range of breastfeeding concerns. To earn the IBCLC certification, candidates must have a medical or health-related education and breastfeeding-specific education and experience. They must also pass a challenging exam. Ask your obstetrician, pediatrician, or midwife for the name of a lactation consultant who can help you. Or find an IBCLC in your area .
- CLCs (Certified Lactation Counselors) or CBEs (Certified Breastfeeding Educators). A breastfeeding counselor or educator teaches about breastfeeding and helps women with basic breastfeeding challenges and questions. These counselors and educators have special breastfeeding training, usually a one-week-long course.
- Doulas (DOO-las). A doula is professionally trained to give birthing families social and emotional support during pregnancy, labor, and birth, as well as at home during the first few days or weeks after the baby is born. Doulas who are trained in breastfeeding can help you learn to breastfeed.
- Providence Mother and Baby Clinics educates parents and monitors for preeclampsia, postpartum healing, postpartum depression and anxiety, preterm and full-term newborn feeding patterns and behaviors and more. Ongoing support is given for infants with slow weight gain, maternal supply issues, and management of infant feeding plans. The lactating parent can also be seen for acute concerns like breast pain and infection identification and treatment or referral, persistent nipple damage, changes in supply, hyperlactation, returning to work and lactation cessation. MBC is a successful transitional model that has become a safety net for families looking to collaborate with experts during the 4th trimester.
To learn more about breastfeeding classes and support, register for a Providence Health Education class.