Receiving their mother’s breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for babies. Breast milk contains just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help babies grow and develop properly.
It is recommended for breastfeeding to begin within the first hour of a baby’s life, and continue as the baby’s exclusive source of nutrition for the first six months of their lives. Mothers can continue breastfeeding after six months, while also introducing other sources of food into the baby’s diet.
Breastfeeding significantly boosts a baby’s immune system and helps protect them from various illnesses. Babies who are breastfed have lower risk of developing certain health conditions, such as type 1 & 2 diabetes, obesity, gastrointestinal (GI) issues, ear infections and asthma. It has also been shown to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Choosing to breastfeed also saves new parents time and money (formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year). It also offers a quiet, relaxed time for mother and baby to bond.
Becoming educated about breastfeeding is the best way to prepare for and enjoy the process once your baby is born. Cone Health Women’s Hospital understands that education is key when expecting a baby and offers several classes to help families throughout the community prepare for this stage of their lives. The Breastfeeding Basics and Breastfeeding Beyond the Basics classes are taught by certified lactation consultants at Women’s Hospital Education Center, and offer tips and tools to expectant mothers throughout the community on how to get breastfeeding off to a great start and continue the process successfully.
Beverly Daly is the assistant director of Lactation and Perinatal Education at Cone Health Women’s Hospital. Daly is a registered nurse, receiving a Bachelor of Science in nursing from East Carolina University in 1986. She is also an international board-certified lactation consultant, and serves as the instructor for the Breastfeeding Basics and Breastfeeding Beyond the Basics classes offered at the Women’s Hospital.