As a new parent, you’ve been blessed by the creation of a wonderful new life. There is no question in your mind about what you will do to protect this precious new baby. If you’re like many new parents, this includes educating yourself on how to keep a baby healthy and thriving. At the top of the list is often the decision to breastfeed for the first six months with continued breastfeeding for a year or longer

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Mothers have long intuitively felt the benefits of breastfeeding but with increasing research, the medical community continues to find additional benefits of breastfeeding for mom, baby and even the environment. One of the most-documented benefits is the increase of healthy antibodies that help a baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Studies also show breastfeeding exclusively for six months can lower a child’s risk of asthma and allergies and ward of the frequency of ear infections, respiratory illnesses and diarrhea, according to WebMD.

For the mother, breastfeeding offers more than the security of protecting your child. It also grants the benefits of hormone release, helping the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size; burns calories and could reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer and osteoporosis.

It Takes a Team

It’s important to acknowledge that even with so many benefits for mother and child, breastfeeding is not easy for everyone. Breastfeeding is a skill that’s acquired and improved over time. What works well for one child may or may not work for another. Making the commitment to breastfeeding also needs the critical support of knowledgeable breastfeeding resources as well as the support of family members, friends, nurses, co-workers and employers.

During this vulnerable time, it’s important to surround yourself with a community of people who support your desire to breastfeed. For some new mothers, the closest resource will be friends and family who breastfed, nurses in the gynecology office, WIC breastfeeding support and a variety of online resources. These options can offer an understanding ear if a baby is having trouble latching, provide assistance in determining a good breastfeeding hold, and assess if a baby is eating enough.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

Whether you decide to breastfeed, bottle feed or some combination, your baby benefits from the close connection created. The bond established through the simple act of holding releases healing hormones that promote calm and help stabilize the breathing rate, temperature and blood sugar of a baby. If breastfeeding, mom also benefits from calming hormones that can lower stress and promote healing. Close proximity is also a way to engage a young brain in the sight, smell and sound of their new parents.

Ask for Help

Raising a baby is one of the most challenging and rewarding things anyone will ever do, but don’t feel you’re in it alone. Recognize when you’re feeling stressed and reach out to a network of friends, family nurses and Sam Tilden Scaling, M.D. and Samuel Vigneri, M.D., the gynecological resources at Summit Medical Center. These individuals believe in you and want to you succeed!

Remember, you always have a choice in your healthcare. Summit Medical Center offers orthopaedics; ear, nose and throat; pediatrics, gastrointestinal; primary care; general surgery, pulmonary; and plastic surgery to the Casper, Wyoming, area. With cost-competitive, high-quality medical care and superior patient service, Summit Medical Center is changing the delivery of healthcare in Casper and beyond.

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