If you have decided to breastfeed your amazing little infant then proceed with confidence, as breastfeeding is recommended by a variety of health organizations for all babies up to the age of one. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to the age of two. There are a few contraindications to breastfeeding, all of which are serious health conditions and should be addressed by your physician. (1)(2)
Breast milk is sourced from nutrients stored within the mothers’ body, for this reason a well balanced nutrient dense diet that has a minor increase of 25 grams of protein per day and an increase of about 340 calories per day for the first 6 months and 400 calories per day for the last 6 months should be sufficient enough to provide adequate nutrition to you and your baby. (3)
A breast fed baby begins life with a nutrient source that is naturally designed to offer an amazing array of nutrient, antibodies, anti-viruses, anti-parasites, anti-allergens and growth factors. (4) For up to the age of 6 months breast milk can provide 100% of the nutritional needs for an infant. At 6 months iron stores are often becoming depleted and it is recommended to begin introducing baby foods, which contain iron.
Vitamin D is another nutrient of concern since many women are deficient. The Dietary Reference Intake is 400IU of vitamin D per day for an infant beginning at birth. Women, who do not have adequate vitamin D stores, may find it necessary to supplement.
To get the goldmine of milk flowing from your breast involves hormones, which are surprisingly uncomplicated. The two hormones involved in lactation are prolactin and oxytocin. Bringing the baby to the breast as early as possible stimulates prolactin to increase milk production. Oxytocin triggers the let-down reflex and is most effective when the mother is relaxed, so, it can be helpful to play calming music, set down electronics and focus on the baby.
Many mothers’ worry if their baby is getting enough milk, just pay attention to your babies feeding cues and provide 8-12 opportunities for your infant to feed in 24 hours. This should provide enough to fill your infants small stomach. (5)
Breast feeding is most successful when you are able to map out a plan customized to your individual needs, for this reason seek the expertise of a lactation consultant.