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Breastfeeding! Common questions, fast answers.

What is breast milk? How does breastfeeding work? Does it really make your child a genius? We’ve got a few answers to some frequently asked questions.
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What is breast milk? Unlike the stuff in the dairy aisle of the grocery store, breast milk is actually alive! Not only does it have protein, fats and sugars, but it also contains living cells and antibodies that help a baby fight illness. Overheating breast milk can actually make it less healthful, so don’t microwave or boil pumped milk. Instead, submerge a sealed pumped bottle in a bowl of warm water for a minute and then swirl it gently. Repeat as needed until the milk is body temperature.

How does breastfeeding work? Basically, specialized glands in a breast make milk from a mom’s blood and bodily fluids. Breastfeeding is a feedback cycle between mom and baby: The action of the baby’s tongue stimulates the glands to make more milk.

Is it supposed to hurt? It’s normal to have nipple pain in the first few days of breastfeeding as your milk comes in. Having an improper latch can also cause pain, so make sure the baby is sucking on the whole nipple, not just the tip. After the first few days, breastfeeding should be completely painless. If it’s not, consult with your pediatrician or a certified lactation consultant.

Does breastfeeding make babies smarter? Several long-term studies have suggested that breastfed babies average about two to five more IQ points than their bottle-fed counterparts. But it’s nearly impossible to know if such a small difference is the result of breast milk itself or other factors, like babies having more time to interact with their moms or breastfeeding moms being healthier to begin with.

Will breastfeeding make my baby healthier? Breastfeeding can’t keep your baby from ever getting sick, but the extra antibodies do make breastfed babies statistically less likely to get sick in the first year. Also, for reasons not fully understood, breastfed babies are less likely to become obese or suffer chronic diseases as adults.

Sandy & Marcie Jones are the authors of Great Expectations: Your All-in-One Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth. Order your copy from Barnes & Noble.

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  • Rated 0 out of 5 by 34reviewers.
    Rated 0 out of 5 by Good info, proud of my decision to breastfeed it will obviously help my baby in the long run November 29, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I want to share this especially with new moms who are planning on breastfeeding their baby.. I gathered a much info about breastfeeding before I delivered my baby and many of the infos were about the colostrum , the liquid that comes out of the breast in early breastfeeding stages and after delivery.. It really comes out in small quantities and when I saw it I was scared as many moms would be whether or not my baby was getting enough milk.. a breastfeeding consultant assured me that my milk supply will be enough for my baby's demand. and his demand depends as well on his stomach size.. so dont be afraid if dont see a lot of milk coming out.. as long as the baby is gaining weight and making enough wet diapers he or she are ok.. November 18, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I had my dear son on July 1, 2014 and breastfed within the hour he was born. He ended up going to NICK 13 hours later due to jaundice and was in there for six days. I got very discouraged about BF because they give him bottles since he is under the lights 24/7. But I pumped and was very successful but pumping is very demanding at the least. I am still pumping 4 months later every 3 hours due to he has thrush. So if you can't figure it out on your own or get/find help, just pump. The goal is to feed your baby breastmilk. My opinion, as long as your baby is getting your milk, it shouldn't matter how/in what the baby gets it. Good luck everyone. November 3, 2014
    Rated 0 out of 5 by I love being able to breastfeed. It's one thing I can do for our daughter that my husband cant!!:P I didn't/don't want to give her a bottle even with milk I've pumped. The nurses at the hospital also told me to at least wait 2-3weeks (or don't give one at all) before giving her a soother because, it can create nipple confusion which can make breastfeeding harder. Breastfeeding gives us time to bond as well. Not to mention all of the benefits to her from being breast fed. It is exhausting. Especially at first because she was up so often through the night and only I could feed her. Well worth it though. It does get better! They do start to go longer through the night without eating. Best decision I made hands down! :) September 12, 2014
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