Breastfeeding

breastfeedingYour breastmilk changes to meet the needs of your growing child and gives your baby protection against illness and infection.

Breastfeeding Protects Babies

Breastmilk is the perfect food for your baby. It has special nutrients your baby needs that are not found in formula. It is just what your baby needs in just the right amount. Your breastmilk changes to meet the needs of your growing child and gives your baby protection against illness and infection. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of life and advises that breastmilk is the only food your baby needs during the first six months of their life. Breastfeeding might be challenging in the beginning, but it will get easier. We can help you find breastfeeding support and resources.

Call the Family Health Hotline 1-800-322-2588 for referrals to breastfeeding resources and support. Read more about learning to breastfeed. 

Why Breastfeed Your Baby?

Breastfeeding helps you and your baby stay healthy. Breastfed babies have fewer earaches, colds and allergies and are less likely to experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Babies can easily digest breast milk and have less constipation and diarrhea.

Breastfeeding also helps you build a special bond with your baby and get back to your pre-pregnancy weight more quickly. You save time, energy and money by breastfeeding. Breastfeeding saves money because you have fewer doctors’ bills and do not have to buy formula.

What birth control methods are available when breast feeding?

It is possible to become pregnant soon after you have your baby even if you are breastfeeding. When breastfeeding, non-hormonal methods should be considered first. If you want to use a hormonal birth control method, it is important to choose a method that contains little or none of the hormone estrogen. The estrogen may decrease your milk supply and lead to early weaning. Progestin only hormonal methods are safe for breastfeeding mothers once their milk supply is in. Talk to your healthcare provider about which birth control method is best for you.

Do You Plan to Return to Work?

You can still give your baby the benefits of breastfeeding when you go back to work. Remember- some breastmilk is better than no breastmilk and every ounce counts! Read helpful information about Work and Breastfeeding.

Breastmilk is usually expressed with a breastpump. There are many pumps to choose from, and a lactation consultant, La Leche League Leader or WIC breastfeeding peer counselor can help you find the right one.  With the new Affordable Care Act law most private health insurance companies must provide women with a breastpump and access to lactation counseling.  Call your health insurance provider to learn about getting a breastpump for free.

If your insurance does not provide a breastpump, there are some other free and low-cost options available in Washington State. To find out what is available in your area call the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

Did You Know Your Right to Breastfeed in Public is Protected by Law?

Washington State law protects womens’ right to breastfeed in public under an anti-discrimination law. 

Also, most employers are required to provide breastfeeding mothers with non-paid break time and a place to pump breastmilk when they return to work.

Additional Resources

Download “My Guide to Working and Breastfeeding!” to assist in developing a plan for returning to work.

Women’s Health Breastfeeding Information