Most care providers, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, suggest and encourage women to breastfeed. You and your baby are unique, and the decision is up to you. This insight into breastfeeding can help give you the information you may need, to make a decision that will benefit you and your baby.
There is something so intimate and beautiful in those quiet moments of breastfeeding, with your new babe. Developing a feeding relationship, with your newborn, can be full of emotional and physical ups and downs in the early days, especially as a first time mom. Seeking out and advocating for the proper supports, though, can make a difference between success or struggle.
There are so many benefits, for mother and child, when it comes to breastfeeding. Not only can your body provide nourishment and protection, for your baby, it can for you as well. There have been several studies that have shown it reduces ovarian and breast cancer. Post delivery, the oxytocin that is released when nursing will help your uterus contract and shrink back down to size quicker than those mothers who do not breastfeed. Exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) shows there has been success in being able to naturally space your children, due to the natural birth control you body experiences. Psychologically, it gives mothers a greater sense of empowerment in being able to sustain their child's needs.
For babies, breastfeeding provides immune support, which is crucial in their early days when they have not yet developed one. It reduces their risk of SIDS, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Breastfeeding also helps babies learn to self regulate their food intake, which has been shown to reduce childhood obesity. The skin to skin bond, you create, also helps your child feel more secure and confident in you as their care provider and reduces stress for you both.
The link between breastfeeding and society, is also large. Not only do breastfed babies tend to be sick less often, thus minimizing the health care system, parents are also able to take less sick days to tend to their ill children. It also helps reduce waste and pollution by not requiring packaging, shipping and disposal of bottles, liners, and cans of formula. Financially, the formula industry in sales and marketing of their products, is a multi billion dollar industry. With breastfeeding, we can substantially cut that number down and create more WHO compliant locations.
Don't delaying that bond and connection, with your babe. As soon as possible, post delivery, start skin to skin and practicing your latching with baby. Give yourself patience and space, while you learn to work with one another. Breastfeeding is like a dance - you both need to learn the steps to success. As you head home, make sure you have items in your home to encourage this. Be it a cozy corner with snacks, a water bottle and Netflix or your bed. Having quick and close access to items so you are able to sit, and nurse, is important.
Breastfeeding might seem lonely and individual, but it is not and you do not have to go about it alone. In the past, women learned proper techniques from their mothers, grandmothers, and sisters. They had a support system to lean on, to help them succeed. Reach out to your friends and family, who have children and have gone through this journey, and ask for guidance should you need it. Social media is also full of many amazing support groups, for women, to ask questions and connect with like minded mothers. Locally, we have Vernon Breastfeeding Cafe and Breastfeeding Mothers of the Shuswap.
Making sure you are adapting your diet, to your breastfeeding needs, is also crucial. You will be burning 200-500 calories, while nursing, so making sure your nutrition intake reflects that will help with your supply. Don't fill your calorie gap with empty foods - stock your pantry and fridge with wholesome and healthy foods to snack on while sitting in your nursing chair. Preparing freezer meals, can also help with this, and make for easy and quick meals in the early postpartum days.
If you find you are struggling with breastfeeding - reach out. Do not give into the fear that you are not doing a good enough job, or not producing enough milk. If your baby is outputting the appropriate amount of diapers for their age, you are giving them enough. There are many supports available for women, and many ways to go about making sure your child gets breast milk. Be it a SNS sytem, pumping and bottles, or doner milk - insuring your child has that 'liquid gold' is possible with some hard work and support.
We must increase awareness and education in order to support a healthier future for the good of humanity to ensure that all children, irrespective of their gender, whether they are from a rich country or a poor one, can get the best possible start in life and start from a very even basis. It is everyone's responsibility to create and educate our population as a whole. Acceptance is key, knowledge is power. Together we can create a safe and educational environment so that all mothers who choose to breastfeed, can with success.
In conjunction with the Shuswap Children's Association, we are pleased to be hosting MILK: The Film in the Spring of 2017. Stayed tuned to our Facebook, for an announcement of a date and time.
Resources for support, information and help:
International Lacation Consultant Association
Le Leche League International
Benaroch, Roy MD. (2015, December 13) Breastfeeding Benefits. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/nursing-basics#5
Filmblanc (2017) MILK Educational Program. Retrieved from: http://www.milkhood.com/programs
Rusch, Elizabeth (2017) 5 Simple Steps to Breastfeeding Success. Retrieved from: https://www.fitpregnancy.com/baby/breastfeeding/five-simple-steps-breastfeeding-success
Unknown (2016, June 16) Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Enviroment and Society. Retrieved from: http://www.tensteps.org/benefits-of-breastfeeding-for-the-environment-society.shtml
Kayla is a mom to three sons, wife, and doula. She works within the Shuswap/Okanagan Region providing mothers and their families with a whealth of knowledge and support in all things fertility, pregnancy, birth and beyond.