Breastfeeding Basics 101

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(ARA) - Choosing the best baby-feeding method can be confusing for new parents. Questions arise: Should we breastfeed? What are the benefits? How do we begin a breastfeeding regimen?

Moms-and-dads-to-be can take the guesswork out of this important decision by learning the tips and benefits of breastfeeding from medical experts during National Breastfeeding Awareness Month this August.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding an infant for a full year, statistics show that only 64 percent of U.S. women breastfeed in the early postpartum period, and only 29 percent of them continue to breastfeed six months after birth.

"The physiological and emotional benefits of breastfeeding for baby's first year of life are clear for both mothers and babies," said Dr. Nancy Durand, OB/GYN at Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Science Centre in Toronto. "From the prevention of allergies in babies to reinforcing the emotional mother-child bond, taking the time to establish a breastfeeding routine that is right for each mother and her newborn is key to giving an infant the healthiest start in life possible."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies that are breastfed experience fewer allergies, long term protection against diabetes and Crohn's disease, enhanced brain growth and eye development and protection against colds and ear infections. In addition, mothers that choose to breastfeed reap the benefits of stronger bones, a reduced risk of ovarian cancer and premenopausal breast cancer and an increased ability to lose weight, as breastfeeding burns 200 to 500 calories a day.

In an effort to help mothers breastfeed longer, Avent America, a leading manufacturer of baby feeding products, is offering a free Breastfeeding Guide during National Breastfeeding Awareness month this August. The 24-page resource contains information about the health and nutritional benefits of breastfeeding, the convenience of breast pumps and answers to some of the most commonly asked breastfeeding questions.

Before beginning any baby-feeding system, Dr. Durand suggests that parents-to-be brush up on the breastfeeding basics offered by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Avent America.

Breastfeeding Basics

Mom's Health:

* Consume 2,200 to 2,700 calories a day to maintain a sufficient, nutritional milk supply.

* Adjust daily nutritional servings to accommodate breastfeeding needs by consuming healthy, well-balanced meals rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy.

* Keep water or fruit juice close by during feedings to counter the natural increase in thirst.

Baby's Needs:

* Begin breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.

* Allow newborns to nurse whenever they show signs of hunger.

* Breastfeed exclusively for baby's first six months.

* Practice latching-on and positioning to ensure the most comfortable, productive feedings for both mother and baby.

* Let baby determine when the feeding is over.

* After six months of exclusive breastfeeding, begin introducing solids into baby's diet.

* Begin weaning baby from breastfeeding by substituting feedings with infant formula or additional solid food, as appropriate.

Breastfeeding Made Easy:

* Incorporate baby feeding products into established breastfeeding regimens to allow for lifestyle flexibility. The Avent On The Go set utilizes products that allow safe and easy expression and storage of breast milk, such as the Avent Isis Breast Pump, four milk storage bottles, one microfiber-insulated storage bag and two flexible cooling packs. Bottle nipples, dome caps, and disposable nursing pads are also included.

* Utilize breast pumps to help reduce engorgement, or breasts that are overly full and painful.

* Store expressed breast milk in baby bottles for later use when apart from baby. Avent's integrated feeding system allows bottles and cups to attach directly to the breast pump to eliminate the need to transfer expressed milk.

* Refrigerate or freeze all breast milk as soon as it is expressed.

* Thaw or warm expressed breast milk under warm water or in a bottle warmer, then shake to mix. NEVER microwave.

* Choose nipples that resemble the mother's nipple, such as the Avent Reusable Bottle Nipple or the Disposable Nurser Nipple, to allow a natural transition from the breast to the bottle, then back to the breast.

Above all, Dr. Durand reminds new parents to take pleasure in this special time spent with baby and in the knowledge that they are providing the healthiest start possible for their little one.

For more information on Avent America's integrated baby feeding system and to receive a free copy of the Breastfeeding Guide, log onto www.aventamerica.com. The Breastfeeding Guide can also be obtained by calling (800) 54-AVENT.

Courtesy of ARA Content. Reprinted by Pregnancy.org,