Baby & Child Mental Health
Even though it is natural, parents and babies learn how to nurse together. For some, it is easy. Others have challenges. Most challenges occur in the first weeks. Here are some resources to help.
Human milk helps protect babies from colds, infections, allergies, asthma, obesity, and diabetes.
It lowers the risk of breast cancer and helps the new parent’s body recover from birth.
Breastfeeding/chestfeeding helps build a physical, touch-based connection. This skin-to-skin contact increases oxytocin (the love hormone), supports a healthy immune system, helps with stress, and helps improve healthy weight gain in infants. If breastfeeding/chestfeeding is not an option the skin-to-skin contact can be achieved with bottle-feeding.
It is usually best to try nursing within an hour after birth. Your first milk, called colostrum, is extra rich and just enough for your baby’s needs.
Feeding a baby human milk is a full-time endeavor in the first few weeks. Parents should be prepared to do little else in the early postpartum period.
The first few weeks also tend to be when most challenges occur. Be kind to yourself and ask for help. Call the Breast Start line at 1 – 855 – 855-MILK or a lactation consultant to help you figure out solutions to problems or alternatives.
The more you feed, the more milk will be produced.
The best method to increase milk supply is by feeding your baby on demand.
Establishing a breastfeeding bond with your baby takes time. Pregnancy disability is available to most birthing parents. It includes 6-8 weeks off to bond with your baby and recover from birth. The benefit is less than the regular wage a parent earns but can help.
An additional 8 weeks of Family Leave is available for most working parents. It offers 60-70% of normal pay.
Parents in a two-parent household may take paid family leave at the same time or consecutively – one parent then the other.
When you are back at work, you have a legal right to take lactation breaks. Employers are required to allow employees lactation breaks. (This is also for the benefit of the employer. Parents take fewer sick days when babies have their parent’s milk.)
No amount of alcohol is safe in pregnancy and it is still safest to avoid alcohol after your baby is born. But health experts (like the Center for Disease Control) say one alcoholic drink per day can be safe for lactating parents, especially when they wait to nurse for two hours after drinking one alcoholic beverage.
Smoking is highly discouraged for all parents and caregivers whether they nurse or not. Exposure to cigarette smoke is a risk factor for SIDS. Anyone who smokes should avoid being around babies when smoking. Even if smoking away from a baby, caregivers should wash their hands and change their clothes before handling a baby to avoid third-hand exposure.
Small amounts of marijuana’s active components pass into the milk of cannabis users. It is associated with motor skill delays. Lactating people should avoid cannabis.
Bottle-feeding your baby the traditional way can cause your baby to drink milk at a faster rate. Instead of sucking to get milk to their mouths, babies instead have to keep up with the milk pouring from the bottle due to gravity. This can cause some unwanted side effects like:
Paced bottle-feeding is designed to more closely mimic breastfeeding by holding your baby upright and holding the bottle level with the ground instead of angled down so that your baby has to suck the nip of the bottle to get to the milk.
Here are some signs your baby has had enough to eat: