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Breastfeeding, or giving your infant expressed breast milk, is the most natural source of nourishment for your infant. When you choose to breastfeed your baby, you are providing him/her with the best possible infant food, and no product has ever been as time-tested as human milk.

Mother’s milk contains all the nutrients your baby needs and is more easily digested than any other baby food. Breastfeeding provides extra protection to infants against many common childhood infections such as: gastrointestinal, respiratory, ear, urinary tract, and dental caries. Breast milk has also proven to protect against more serious illness such as meningitis, juvenile diabetes, celiac disease, childhood cancer, acute appendicitis, and liver disease. There has even been research to support that breast milk helps to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Not only does breastfeeding provide so many priceless benefits to your infant, but it also turns out to the best for a mother’s body as well. The lactation process causes changes in the mother’s body that benefit her directly. Some of these benefits include: helping the uterus get back in shape faster after delivery, changing metabolic rates thereby enabling most mothers to lose pregnancy weight gradually without dieting, protection against breast and ovarian cancer, urinary tract infections, and osteoporosis.

How Do I Prepare to Breastfeed My Infant?

Reading and taking a prenatal/breastfeeding class can be helpful. Many mothers find it most helpful to talk to experienced professionals such as a lactation consultant, nurse practitioner, pediatrician, nurse midwife, or obstetrician. There is no replacement for advice from your family members or friends who have breastfed; they often have many useful tips.

However, because every mother and baby is different, the real experience will come after the baby is born. It will be a learning process for both of you, and patience is key. A supportive team of family, friends, and professionals will be valuable to you. Also, it would be helpful to check with your insurance policy before your baby is born to see if they will help cover the price of a breast pump. Most nursing moms find it beneficial for many reasons to have their own pump. Optimally, you might want a support pillow such as a Boppy, a nursing bra, breastpads, Soothies gel pads, and PureLan cream.

Who Will Help Me With Breastfeeding/Pumping After Delivery?

Your labor and delivery nurse or midwife will likely be the first person to help with breastfeeding and/or pumping after the delivery of your infant. Next, the nursing staff and lactation consultants at the mother-baby unit will be happy to assist you with breastfeeding. Once discharged home, you will have access to help through your pediatric office. IHA has many experienced pediatricians, nurse practitioners, PAs, and lactation consultants who would love to help with this life changing experience. If you have questions or concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call 734.995.2950.

Kelly Strickler, CNP, IBCLC, is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner at IHA Child Health - Ann Arbor. Prior to joining IHA in 2007, Kelly worked as an RN at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor in the OB/NICU/PEDs departments and did homecare nursing as well. She has a clinical interest in childhood obesity and has taught many adults and children how to make "healthy lifestyle choices."