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Breastfeeding: the Benefits and Challenges

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What new moms can expect when choosing to breastfeed

At St. Luke’s we love breastfeeding. Due to all the benefits, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, followed by breastfeeding in combination with other foods until baby is at least one year. After that, breastfeeding can be continued for as long as mutually desired by mom and baby.

Whether you decide to nurse your little one for a few days or for an extended period, breastfeeding offers numerous benefits for both you and your baby. However, getting the hang of it can be challenging at first. Here’s a brief overview of the benefits and challenges to help you prepare.

Embracing the benefits

Many studies have proven that breast milk offers lots of health benefits for both mom and baby. When babies are born, they have weak immune systems. Their mother’s milk provides an important source of antibodies that help their immune system develop. Some of the diseases and health conditions that breastfeeding can help prevent include:

  • Bacteremia (bacteria in the blood)
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis (a serious intestinal disease)
  • Otitis media (inflammatory diseases of the middle ear)
  • Late-onset sepsis in preterm infants
  • Lymphoma, leukemia and Hodgkin's disease
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Allergies

Mothers also have a lot to gain from breastfeeding, including:

  • Decreased postpartum bleeding
  • Help returning to pre-pregnancy weight
  • Decreased risk of ovarian, breast, endometrial and uterine cancers
  • Delaying the return of menstruation
  • Lower risk of osteoporosis later in life

Overcoming the challenges

While breastfeeding does offer numerous benefits it can also be very difficult, at first. It is important to remember that nursing needs to be learned by both mom and baby and that it will take lots of practice and patience. At St. Luke’s we do everything we can to help you get started. As a Baby-Friendly® facility, we provide evidence-based care with the goal of achieving the best infant feeding outcomes possible. This includes:

  • Educating pregnant moms about breastfeeding
  • Keeping mom and baby together after delivery, and getting them skin-to-skin as soon as possible (including after a c-section)
  • Encouraging breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery
  • Providing on-staff lactation consultants, specialists, and educators
  • Offering a free breastfeeding support group to moms

We also offer St. Luke’s AfterCare Clinic for any patient with a St. Luke’s provider. Located at St. Luke’s Birthing Center, moms can visit or call this free clinic as many times as needed after delivery for individualized help with feeding their little one.

Labor and delivery in Duluth, Minnesota

At St. Luke’s, we are committed to providing you with the customized birth experience you’ve always dreamed about. To do this, we make it a priority to exceed the highest standards of care and seek the training we need to best serve our patients.

To learn more about St. Luke’s Birthing Center or establish care with a provider visit our website.