The Basics

Breastfeed your baby for the first 6 to 12 months after birth. Doctors recommend that babies be fed with only breast milk (no water, no juice, no nonhuman milk, and no foods) for their first 6 months of life. Vitamins, minerals, and medicine that the doctor recommends are also all right for your baby.

You can start feeding your baby cereal or other baby food as soon as 6 months of age, while you continue to breastfeed. If you can, keep breastfeeding for 12 months or as long as you and your baby want.

If you have a health condition or are taking any medicines, talk to your doctor before your baby is born about breastfeeding.

The Benefits

Breastfeeding is healthy for you and your baby.

Benefits for the baby
Breast milk:

  * Has just the right amount of protein, fat, sugar, and water to help your baby grow.
  * Helps protect your baby from infections and illness.
  * Is usually easier for babies to digest than formula.

Benefits for the mom

  * Gives you and your baby more time to get to know each other.
  * Can save your family hundreds of dollars!
  * Burns lots of calories, making it easier to lose the weight gained during pregnancy.
  * May help lower the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Take Action!

Even though it's natural, breastfeeding isn't always easy. Focus on what works for you and your baby. Here are some tips for breastfeeding success.

Talk to your doctor or midwife about breastfeeding.
While you are pregnant, tell your doctor or midwife that you plan to breastfeed. Many health centers, clinics, and hospitals have lactation counselors to answer all your questions. A lactation counselor (or lactation specialist) is someone who helps women learn how to breastfeed.

If you plan to go to work after pregnancy, a lactation counselor can help you figure out how to keep providing breastmilk for your baby while you are away.

Nurse your baby whenever he or she wants to eat.
Try to breastfeed within an hour after your baby’s birth. Newborn babies need to nurse often (every 2 hours). Watch your baby for signs of hunger, such as mouthing or being more alert.

Put your nipple as far back in the baby’s mouth as you can.
Nurse with the nipple and the brown area around the nipple (called the areola) in the baby’s mouth. This will make you more comfortable.

Try out these different breastfeeding positions.

Learn how to have a healthy pregnancy

What do you want to do today?

  * Talk to your doctor or midwife about breastfeeding.
  * Review these different breastfeeding positions.
  * Find out if your state has breastfeeding laws.