I am a huge fan of breast feeding.  The benefits are well known.  For the baby, there is reduced otitis media, respiratory infections, gastroenteritis, rates of SIDS, childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, and childhood leukemia.  For the mother, there are lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes.  There have even been studies that breastfed children deal better with stress later in life.

It is recommended you breastfeed exclusively for 6 months.  I breastfed all of my children.  Particularly with the dangers in the world of swine flu and other diseases, it is one of the best gifts you can give your child.

Breastfeeding can take a toll on your breasts.  So here are some recommendations:

1. Alternate breasts.  Everyone has one side which is easier to feed on, produces more milk, the baby likes it better, etc etc. Breasts are not symmetric.  They are different sizes and different producers.  Try to use both breasts evenly.  Use a timer and switch to the other side.  Personally, I tried to feed from both breasts with each feed.  When I have patients who exclusively breastfeed on one side, there is a marked difference between their breasts at the end.  The key to breasts is symmetry.  Whatever you do, you want your breasts to look as alike as they can.

2. Support.  Breasts are not a muscle. The infamous ”we must, we must, we must increase our bust” exercises don’t work.  The pectoral muscle lies beneath the breast tissue.  The breast itself is composed of breast tissue, ligaments, and fat.  When the tissue has stretched, there is no way to “firm” it up again with exercises, creams, or lasers.  So wear a bra.  Make sure it fits well and is really supporting you.  Sleep in the bra.  To see if the bra is giving good support, jump up and down in front of the mirror and see how well you are supported.  Everyone has seen a woman jogging who does not have enough support.  A good bra has a defined size, 2-3 rows of hooks in the back, and adjustable straps to transfer the weight of the breast to the shoulder.