August 1-7 is National Breastfeeding Week in the U.S. According to the CDC, 77% of infants were breastfeeding as of 2013, and 49% of those were still breastfeeding at six months. Still, many infants aren’t breastfed as long as doctors recommend.

At Pediatric Associates of Franklin, we want to encourage breastfeeding and answer your most pressing questions.

How Can I Give My Baby a Good Breastfeeding Experience?

The key is to begin as soon as possible. Spend as much time holding your baby as possible so he or she gets used to the feeling of your skin. Limit visiting time in the hospital and in early postpartum days so you can practice breastfeeding often. Try to nurse your baby 8-12 times in a 24-hour period, and make sure you know how to position your baby properly. If positioning your baby is a challenge, breastfeeding hurts, or you have other problems, ask a medical professional for help. Prenatal breastfeeding classes may help, too.

Can I Breastfeed and Still Get Things Done?

Yes. Some mothers eschew breastfeeding, picturing themselves constantly stopping what they’re doing to nurse. In reality, nursing takes much less time than you think. Once they get the hang of it, some babies can be breastfed in 10-15 minutes. You can nurse a baby anywhere; just bring along a diaper bag and a change of baby clothes, and wear a modest, comfortable top.

What Should I Eat While Breastfeeding?

You can eat anything you like as long as you maintain a healthy, balanced diet. However, if your spouse is allergic to certain foods or drinks, neither you nor your baby should be exposed to them.

Can I Breastfeed at Work?

Many workplaces are now breastfeeding-friendly. Some offer new moms a room where they can pump and store breast milk. In fact, Section 7(r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision, requires employers to provide a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk and a place to do so.

Is Breastfeeding Healthy for the Baby?

Absolutely. When babies are born, they’re immune to everything their parents are. However, they don’t have their own immune systems yet. Even at six months, their immune systems are immature. They need time to grow. Breast milk provides the immunities babies can’t make until their bodies are ready. 

How Long Should I Breastfeed?

Every mother is different. Some breastfeed their children well into toddler-hood, while others prefer their babies off the nipple ASAP. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for about 12 months, but ask your doctor for an individual opinion.

Contact your pediatrician with any additional questions.