Howard County General Hospital firmly believes that breastfeeding is a wonderful and easy way to give your baby a healthy start in life, and there are many known long-term health benefits to both mothers and babies. We are proud to be a designated Baby-Friendly birth facility, an initiative that encourages and recognizes hospitals and birth centers that offer breastfeeding mothers the information, confidence and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby's life, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, and then continuing breastfeeding for one year or longer. AAP concludes that human milk is the best source for infant feeding and nutrition and has many short- and long-term medical advantages.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
- Human milk is custom-designed for human babies. It provides all the nutrition, antibodies and disease protection your baby needs for the healthiest start in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by continued breastfeeding for one year or longer as complementary foods are introduced. There is no need for any other food for the first six months of life, unless there are medical reasons.
- Breastfeeding provides lifelong benefits and protection against many diseases including diabetes, obesity and asthma.
- Breast milk is easier to digest than formula.
Recent research suggests babies who are breastfed may have:
- lower rates of pneumonia, ear infections and SIDS.
- less constipation and less diarrhea.
- improved intelligence scores.
Recent research shows:
- Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, Type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and postpartum depression.
- Breastfeeding helps new moms return to pre-pregnancy weight faster.
- Breastfeeding is cost-effective. Formula is expensive. Breast milk is free.
- Breast milk requires no preparation. There are no bottles or nipples to clean and sterilize nor formula to mix, and it is available whenever you need it.
- Breastfeeding is a special way to bond with your baby, but it can be challenging in the first few days. Fortunately, breastfeeding releases a hormone called oxytocin that not only helps milk flow but relaxes and calms you.
Cherishing Your First Moments Together
Skin-to-skin contact is the best way to welcome your newborn. It helps your baby feel safe and calm as well as begins the bonding experience. We encourage you to keep your baby skin-to-skin as much as possible the first few days and continue through the next few weeks. Partners can do skin-to-skin too.
Benefits of skin-to-skin include:
- Calms baby
- Relaxes mom
- Decreases stress of birth
- Helps mother produce milk
- Keeps baby warm
- Promotes brain development
- Easier to tell when baby is hungry
- Stabilizes baby’s blood sugar, breathing and heartbeat
- Makes breastfeeding easier
- Empowers mom
Supports Bonding and Breastfeeding
At HCGH, babies and moms remain together throughout the hospital stay. We want to help you learn about your baby, bond and achieve successful breastfeeding. Our staff will care for you and your baby in the comfort of your private room. You and your baby will only be separated for medical procedures that cannot be performed in your room or when medical observation is necessary.
Rooming-in provides additional benefits:
- Baby learns to recognize mother
- New moms begin to recognize and understand baby’s feeding cues
- Babies sleep better and experience less stress and crying when near their mother
- Mother sleeps better too
- Breast milk comes in sooner
- Baby feeds more often, improving milk supply, newborn health and comfort
- Babies gain weight better and experience less jaundice
- Mothers breastfeed longer and more exclusively
- Dads/partners can bond with baby and provide additional support for moms
- Parents feel more confident in caring for baby
- Parents can interact with medical staff and participate in baby’s care and check-ups which are performed with the parents in the room
A Howard County Mom's Perspective on Breastfeeding