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The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Posted on Aug 31, 2020

Breastfeeding your baby brings many benefits — it is nature's perfect baby food. In this week’s On Call for All Kids, Prem Fort, M.D., a neonatologist with the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Maternal, Fetal & Neonatal Institute, talks about the advantages of breast milk for babies.

When should milk come in normally?

Milk is created during late second trimester but inhibited by two hormones, estrogen and progesterone. At birth, these hormones decrease and allow another hormone, prolactin to begin the free production of breast milk.
Suckling stimulates prolactin to produce milk for the next cycle. The more breastfeeding occurs, the higher the prolactin level each time, the more milk will come in. 

Since everyone is different, some mothers bring their hormone levels up within a day or two while others it takes up to seven days. 

Can mothers breastfeed if they have COVID-19

New studies show there may be small viral particles found in breast milk, but they do not have the ability to replicate and grow to cause infection. 

New recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics state mothers can wear a mask and wash hands but stay with the baby to feed.

What should you do if baby is not latching well? 

The main things are to be comfortable and relaxed. Oxitocin, which is the hormone that helps squeeze the glands holding the milk, is inhibited or blocked with stress and fear.  

Watch for the whole mouth to surround the areola as the suck stimulates the hormone oxytocin, which squeeze the glands holding the milk. It is not a good latch if baby just has the tip of the nipple. 

The baby may not latch on the first try, so it’s OK to gently remove the nipple with your pinky finger if not positioned correctly.

lactation consultant is an excellent person to talk to for help. 

Where can new moms find information on breastfeeding? 

Some helpful websites:

On Call for All Kids is a weekly series featuring Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital experts. Visit each Monday for the latest report. Also, we have more advice related to breastfeeding available.

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