Breastfeeding2For new moms, breastfeeding can sometimes be more difficult than anticipated. But with the right information and a supportive network, it can be an extremely rewarding bonding experience for both mother and baby. Here are five things every new mom should know about breastfeeding.

#1. It helps your baby. Breast milk is full of antibodies that help to build up your baby’s immunity and protect them from viral infections. That’s just one reason why the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers do it exclusively during the baby’s first six months. Another reason is that it is rich in protein and can help your baby’s digestive tract.

#2. It can help you. Breastfeeding speeds postpartum recovery. For one, it can help you burn between 300-500 calories a day. Additionally, every time you breastfeed, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which causes contractions that help shrink the uterus back down quickly after birth.

#3. It’s affected by your diet. Don’t forget that what you’re eating plays into what your baby is getting from you. So if you’re on medications or drinking large amounts of alcohol or caffeine, they can enter your breast milk in varying degrees. Talk to your doctor about what is and isn’t OK during breastfeeding.

#4. It will be uncomfortable at times.  During this time your breasts will be ultra-sensitive and prone to leakages. And if for some reason you aren’t able to nurse your baby, the resulting engorgement and swelling can be painful. If this is the case, pumping and storing that extra milk can help.

#5. It can be hard.  While babies are born with reflexes to help them eat, sometimes it can still be difficult. New moms shouldn’t expect to get it right the first time – there’s often a learning curve. The good news is, there are a host of support groups and lactation consultants out there to help you!