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Breastfeeding

Women’s Health Education to Help Mothers and Babies Thrive

When you deliver your baby at RWJBarnabas Health, you can take comfort in knowing that all of our mother/baby units are staffed by specially trained lactation consultants who can support you with breastfeeding your child. Even prior to your delivery, we offer workshops designed to help you get the confidence and skills necessary to properly breastfeed and achieve the satisfaction of feeding your baby as nature intended.

Breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, as it contains immunity-boosting antibodies and special enzymes that simply cannot be carbon-copied in baby formula. However, many mothers find breastfeeding challenging and worry they are failing their baby because they find it too challenging to do, especially for months on end. At our mother/baby unit at RWJBarnabas Health, we help new mothers learn how to breastfeed with confidence and overcome any of the common challenges mothers can face.

    Help When You Get Home

    Once you return home with your new baby in tow, it can be nerve-racking to be “on your own” when it comes to breastfeeding. Don’t worry. You can call RWJBarnabas Health to speak to a certified lactation consultant to ask non-emergent breastfeeding questions during regular business hours. If your breastfeeding question is more urgent, we advise you to call your baby’s pediatrician. You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline at 800-994-9662 for peer counselor assistance in English or Spanish.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Breastfeeding

    Breastfeeding

    Q. How can I breastfeed?

    A. Your registered nurse at RWJBarnabas Health is also a specially trained lactation consultant and can help you breastfeed your baby in the first hours after they are born. Although infants are born with a suckling instinct, it doesn’t mean they will instinctively breastfeed without guidance. As the mother, you’ll need to learn how to get your baby in the right position and help your baby latch on to the nipple. That’s because babies must be in the right place to receive the sensory cues where they can smell the breastmilk, hear the mother’s heartbeat and breathing, and feel her touch.

    Q. Why breastfeed?

    Breastfeeding is highly beneficial both for a mother and her baby, but just because it is a beautiful and natural way to nourish your infant, it doesn’t mean it comes naturally. Just because it doesn’t always come easily for many women, as many as 60% of American mothers don’t breastfeed for as long as they intend to. Breastfeeding may seem like an impossible challenge for young mothers facing their infants having trouble, worrying about milk supply issues, painful breast engorgement, cracked or sore nipples, breastmilk leaking, feeling shy about nursing in public, and even finding time to pump between infant-feeding sessions.

    Mothers can feed their infants either through nursing or by preparing formula, but there are unique benefits to breastfeeding. These include:

    • Bonding: Skin-on-skin contact between mother and infant releases the “bonding hormone,” oxytocin. This is a biological phenomenon that helps the mother and baby connect emotionally.
    • Protective for baby: Breastmilk contains antibodies to protect the newborn from common illnesses like the common cold and flu, and other viruses, before the baby is told enough to be vaccinated. It is also the most natural food source for growing babies to digest.
    • Protective for mother: Studies have shown that breastfeeding lowers the mother's risk of breast or ovarian cancer later in life.
    • Always prepared: Instead of having to sterilize baby bottles and prepare formula and warm it up, your breastmilk is always ready, at the right temperature, and contains the perfect nutrients for the growing baby.
    • Financially beneficial: Formula feeding can be a significant expense, and some families may spend hundreds of dollars on it per month, and thousands of dollars every year. Breastfeeding is free!
    • Help the mother burn calories: Many mothers are eager to get back to their “pre-baby” shape after childbirth, and the good news is that breastfeeding can help moms burn an average of 500 calories per day.

    Q. Will breastfeeding hurt?

    A. It shouldn’t. When infants breastfeed correctly there is no pain. Ask your healthcare provider about breastfeeding classes so you can learn how to make breastfeeding work. And ask your nurses to assist you when you have the baby to determine that it’s working well and there will be no pain.

    Q. Can I breastfeed if I have small breasts?

    A. Yes you can. Breasts come in all sizes. If you have felt changes in your breast during your pregnancy, that is the first sign your breasts are preparing for lactation.

    Q. How do I know how much milk my baby is getting?

    A. What goes in must come out! You can tell that your baby is getting enough milk from the number of wet and soiled diapers, how often your baby is feeding, and your baby is gaining the correct amount of weight.

    Q. Do I need to eat a special diet or avoid certain foods?

    A. No, a healthy diet and eating a variety of healthy foods is advisable. Eat to hunger and drink to thirst.

    Q. What if Dad wants to feed the baby?

    A. He can certainly help out in many ways. After the first month, and breastfeeding is established, The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is a great idea to start pumping. Then Dad can feed an occasional bottle of expressed breast milk. Remember, there are so many more aspects to baby care that Dad can do to establish his relationship and bond with his baby.

    If you have questions about breast feeding, please contact us at infoservices@rwjbh.org.

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