The Benefits of Breastfeeding: Support and Local Resources
Breastfeeding your child throughout his first year of life is the best gift you can give. Breastfeeding can be difficult for some mothers, but don’t give up: breast milk is the healthiest thing you can feed your newborn and it is good for mommy’s health, too. If you are unable to breastfeed, formula is another option you have to nourish your baby.
Like baby Aldo in the video, breastfeeding will help your baby grow big and strong! It will also help you lose the weight gained during pregnancy. Breastfeeding give your baby the vitamins and nutrients he needs, and helps him fight illness and obesity.
- Don’t panic if your newborn seems to have trouble breastfeeding. Breastfeeding requires patience and lots of practice. Nurses in the hospital will guide you and your baby, and help you if you have difficulty.
- Talk to a family member or a friend who has breastfed a baby for advice and support.
- When breast-feeding make sure you are relaxed and in a calm environment to create a special bonding time with your baby.
- Give daddy a chance to bond with your baby! Give him a bottle of breast milk and let him feed your baby, too.
- Keep a well-balanced diet – which means eating a mix of breads and grains, milk products, meats, fruits and vegetables and fats. A variety across all food groups is important so you can get all the vitamins you and your baby need over time.
- After each feeding, burp your baby so his stomach doesn’t fill up with gas.
Breastfeeding Troubleshooting Guide
From providing free, ideal nutrition for your baby to parent-child bonding, the benefits of breastfeeding are significant. But breastfeeding may be a challenge, particularly when you first start. Here’s how to address common breastfeeding issues:
- Sore Nipples. When your baby sucks on the nipple, it can result in tenderness. (If your nipple looks flat or compressed after nursing, this may be the issue.) To help, gently break your baby’s attachment to the breast by placing a clean finger in your baby’s mouth, then try latching on again. After breastfeeding, express a few drops of milk — which has antibacterial properties — and gently rub it onto your nipples with clean hands, or use warm compresses or nipple cream for relief. Avoid tight-fitting clothing or bras, which can be irritating.
- Engorgement. When your breasts become so filled with milk — engorged — that they feel hard and painful, it can lead to plugged ducts or a breast infection. Prevent engorgement by breastfeeding often after giving birth, allowing your baby to feed as long as they like. Breastfeeding often allows milk to flow and leave, preventing the breast from over-filling again. Warm compresses before feedings can help milk flow; cold compresses after feeding can help ease swelling. Massaging can help soften the breast.
- Strong Let-Down/Milk Ejection. A strong milk ejection reflex or let-down causes a rush of milk, which can cause your baby to choke on too much liquid. To help, hold your nipple between your fingers and lightly compress milk ducts to slow down the milk ejection. If your baby sputters or chokes while breastfeeding, gently break the latch with your finger and allow the excess milk spray onto a cloth. Let your baby come on and off the breast as needed.
- Plugged Duct. Common in breastfeeding mothers, a plugged milk duct feels like a tender and sore lump in the breast, and is the result of milk not draining properly. When pressure builds up behind the plug, surrounding tissue gets inflamed and sore. To help, use warm compresses and massage behind the sore spot, moving your fingers in a circular motion toward the nipple. Breastfeed on the affected side, aiming your baby’s chin at the plug. Feed up to every two hours to loosen the plug and keep milk flowing. Call your doctor if you develop a fever or if the plugged duct doesn’t go away within a few days.
- Breast Infection (Mastitis). Mastitis is a breast infection that can cause fever or flu-like symptoms, aches, nausea, vomiting and a yellowish discharge. Breasts may be sore or have a lump, feel warm or hot to the touch, and appear pink or red. To ease symptoms and keep milk moving, breastfeed on the affected side every two hours or more often. Get lots of rest, take hot showers and massage the area, moving your fingers in a circular motion. Call your health care practitioner if your symptoms do not improve within a day.
- Yeast/Fungal Infections. Nipple soreness; achy breasts; shiny, itchy, or cracked nipples; and shooting pains in the breast during or after feedings are all signs of yeast/fungal infections, also known as thrush. These infections can spread and last for weeks; be sure to wash any towels, sheets and clothing that may come into contact with the yeast in very hot water. Wash your hands (and your baby’s) often; boil pacifiers, bottle nipples, toys and anything else your baby puts in their mouth, and change disposable nursing pads frequently.
- Too Little Milk. While most mothers make enough milk, you can help ensure a good supply by getting plenty to drink and eating healthy food while nursing. (Drink a full glass of water every time you nurse.) To help make sure your baby is getting enough to eat, nurse your baby often and let baby decide when to stop feeding. Pump after feeding if your baby does not empty the breast. When you empty your breasts, you produce more milk. If you have concerns about your baby getting enough, speak with your pediatrician.
- Too Much Milk. When breasts are too full, it can make breastfeeding uncomfortable and can lead to plugged ducts, mastitis, and other issues. Too-full breasts may also cause your baby to swallow air (which can cause discomfort), gasp or even choke; burp them often. Express by hand to relieve pressure, and breastfeed on one side for each feeding. Change nursing positions; keep offering the same breast until your baby has nursed for at least fifteen minutes. Use a cold compress or washcloth to reduce discomfort and swelling.
- Nursing Strike. When your nursing baby suddenly refuses the breast, they are on a nursing “strike.” A nursing strike may mean that your baby is trying to tell you something is wrong, such as mouth pain from teething, a cold sore, or thrush, ear pain from an infection, a cold or other issues. To help, try another feeding method temporarily and express milk to avoid engorgement and plugged ducts. Keep track of your baby’s wet and dirty diapers to be sure they are eating enough. Try breastfeeding while your baby is sleepy, which may be more successful. Speak to your pediatrician if you think the issue may be an ear infection or thrush, or if the “strike” doesn’t end within a couple of days.
Most issues with breastfeeding resolve quickly and are not serious, but some are very dangerous and need medical attention. Contact your health care provider immediately if you have…
- a breast infection in both breasts
- pus or blood in your breast milk
- red streaks near the affected area of the breast
- severe and sudden symptoms
Did you know that Los Angeles County has a great variety of free or low-cost lactation coaches and experts available to help with breastfeeding?
Local Resources for Breastfeeding Support
Breastfeeding is a skill that takes time to learn and patience to master. Fortunately, free help for breastfeeding moms is just a call or click away in Los Angeles County. From experienced lactation coaches and consultants to expert information and advocacy, these L.A. County breastfeeding resources are ready to help:
This site offers a directory of breastfeeding and lactation services, resources and support groups — some for a fee, others low cost or free — organized by areas of Los Angeles.
Created by the L.A. County Health Department, this site offers new moms resources for breastfeeding, health, housing and more.
Devoted to promoting and advocating for breastfeeding, this organization’s site offers information on breastfeeding rights, education webinars and more.
South LA Health Projects offers breastfeeding support through groups, peer coaching and education, and a free Breastfeeding Helpline at 323-905-1248.
One of the first organizations to offer support, education and encouragement to breastfeeding mothers, La Leche League has meetings and phone volunteers — other moms — who can answer questions and offer ideas for successful nursing.
This national breastfeeding support organization has several chapters in L.A. County who provide telephone counselors offering information and support for mothers and more.
Funded by First 5 LA, Welcome Baby is a free and voluntary program that provides pregnant women and new moms in L.A. County with information and support during pregnancy and baby’s first nine months. Services range from in-hospital and home visits (including lactation support) to baby and mom-friendly items.
- The Breastfeeding Task Force of Greater Los Angeles is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of infants and families through education, outreach, and advocacy to promote and support breast-feeding: http://www.breastfeedla.org/
- This site provides support groups and other classes to help new breastfeeding mothers. Find your local class: http://www.pumpstation.com/pumpstation/