Breastfeeding is the optimal, most nutritious way to feed your baby. Health Canada recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. After the first six months, they recommend an extra six months in addition to complementary foods.
Breastfeeding is a unique experience with each new baby and it takes time for both of you to "get it right".
Babies who are breastfed should get a vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms (µg) or 400 international units (IU) each day. This will help reduce vitamin D deficiency, which could cause other health problems.
Vitamin D supplements can be bought over the counter at a pharmacy. Talk to your pharmacist about which option is best for you and your baby.
To get the best start at breastfeeding, it's important to:
- Hold your baby "skin to skin" for at least 60 minutes right after delivery and often during the days that follow
- Put your baby to breast as soon as possible. The first hour is most important.
- Hold and position your baby correctly. Mothers and babies can breastfeed in many different positions (pages 19 and 20).
- Remove breastmilk frequently by hand expressing even if your baby is feeding well. This milk can be fed to the baby by spoon, syringe or medicine cup.
- Removing breastmilk by hand expression can help increase your milk supply
Signs Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk
Many new moms worry that their child isn't getting enough milk when they’re breastfeeding.
How can I tell breastfeeding is going well?
A baby who feeds well will show the following signs:
- You're not having pain in your breasts or nipples
- You know when your baby swallows. Some babies make a soft "k" sound or their chin drops and pauses with each swallow.
- Small sucks moving to large deep sucks (open mouth, pause, close mouth slightly)
- Your baby is breastfeeding at least eight times in 24 hours
- Your baby is having wet diapers and pooping
- Your baby will end each feeding by falling asleep at the breast or coming off the breast satisfied
- Your baby has a loud cry and moves actively
- Your baby's mouth is wet and pink
- Your baby's eyes look bright and awake
Nutrition for Breastfeeding Moms
A new baby brings many changes. Taking care of yourself will give you energy to keep up with your baby. You don't need to follow a special diet while breastfeeding. Continue eating a variety of foods based on Canada's Food Guide and recommendations and drink water to satisfy your thirst.
There are many supports for breastfeeding moms in Niagara. If you're having any challenges, connect with a public health nurse at Niagara Parents to ask all of your breastfeeding questions.