August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month!
I just learned this, and I feel a little bad that I did not know that there was a breastfeeding awareness month seeing as I recently became a Certified Lactation Counselor!
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Breastfeeding is something that is pretty amazing. All mammals breastfeed too! Breastmilk has so many benefits. If you aren’t able to or choose not to breastfeed though, I support you as well and there are also amazing options for formula. My daughter received both breastmilk and formula during her infancy, so I am aware that both have benefits. With it being breastfeeding awareness month though, this post is focused on breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding has so many benefits, for both baby and mother.
It allows closeness and helps with bonding. Antibodies in breastmilk can help with baby’s health, and can lower risks for things like asthma and obesity. Breastfeeding also lowers risks for certain cancers for mothers as well as heart disease and diabetes. (CDC)
I also feel like when it is going well, breastfeeding can be easier. You don’t have to worry about preparing formula and washing bottles. These things take time, and we know how valuable time is for parents.
And of course, breastfeeding is cheaper than formula. There can still be expenses though, with breastfeeding accessories and I also found so many breastfeeding friendly clothes.
The general recommendation is that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months, and then for breastfeeding to continue along with the introduction of foods for two years or more. When I learned this definition of exclusive breastfeeding, I really learned something new. The recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for first six months was familiar, but I didn’t realize the exclusive piece meant not introducing any foods during that time.
I was also somewhat surprised to learn that breastfeeding is recommended for two years and longer. I feel like here in the US there is a mindset of breastfeeding for the first year and then you wean. Breastfeeding does have benefits past the age of one though and it is something that is a personal decision for each mother and child.
Breastfeeding is something that is very natural, though this does not always mean that it is easy.
There are certain things that can lead to challenges with breastfeeding, for example if you’ve had any type of breast surgery this could impact the nerves and milk ducts which could potentially affect milk supply.
Having a proper latch is a key factor for successful breastfeeding. If the latch is not correct, you may experience pain while nursing and damage could even be done to your nipples. Baby may also not be able to effectively transfer breastmilk.
If you are struggling with breastfeeding, I strongly recommend seeking out support from a Certified Lactation Counselor or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
Public breastfeeding is now legal in all 50 states!
Seriously, woohoo! It is great that there is this legal support now for however you want to feed your baby. We all know, when baby needs to eat, baby needs to eat!
For parents of preemies, breastfeeding may look like pumping breastmilk and feeding it to your baby via a tube or bottle.
Pumping for a preemie, or any baby, is a lot of hard work. You can check out some tips for exclusive pumping here in this post. I did not have the typical breastfeeding experience. I had to exclusively pump initially while she was fed via a tube that ran through her nose down to her belly. She was small for her gestational age, weighing only 2 lbs 14 oz at 32 weeks, and she had difficulty gaining weight. This meant that I had to continue to pump for her so that extra calories could be added to my breastmilk to help her grow and get the nutrition that she needed. I was given the okay to directly nurse her for two feedings a day.
We did this for about six months before I chose to wean. I had been sick and ended up in the hospital with dehydration and my milk supply plummeted. This stressed me out so much about this and I was pumping more and more and producing less. I was constantly worried. This was when I decided to wean with support from one of my daughter’s doctors. It was best for me at the time and we already knew that my daughter did well with formula.
Wherever you are in your breastfeeding journey, I wish you the best!
If you are having a hard time, please seek out support! Most hospitals will have support groups or consultants available. You can use the International Lactation Consultant Association directory too to find someone near you.
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