Breast milk gives your infant all the nutrients he or she needs for the first four to six months of life. It also gives your child much more than good nutrition. Breast milk has special substances that will help your baby fight infection. Colostrum is a yellow liquid that your body makes during the first few days of breast feeding. It is especially rich in these protective substances.
The amount of breast milk you make depends on how much milk your baby needs. A young infant needs feedings more often than an older baby. A young infant may need to be fed as often as every two hours. It is important to feed your infant whenever he or she is hungry. It is the best way to make sure that your milk supply is enough for your child.
When you are breast feeding, you need extra calories, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fluids. You can get all of these nutrients by following the Food Guide Pyramid. Milk and foods made from milk will give you the calcium, protein, fluids and vitamins your body needs to stay strong and healthy. The nutrients in these extra foods are also important for your baby's body to grow.
Alcohol and other drugs can enter breast milk. Your infant's body is immature and may be damaged by even small amounts of alcohol and drugs. It is not good for your baby if you use alcohol when you are breast feeding. If you need to take medications, you should talk with your doctor or health care provider.
Adapted from: Hamilton, E., Whitney E., Sizer F., Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies. (New York: West Publishing Company, 1991.)
If you have any questions about breast feeding, go to "Ask the Nutritionist."
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