Mamas: I’m a staunch Breastfeeding Advocate and Here’s Why.

August 4th, 2016

wbw2016sHello Mamas,

It’s world Breastfeeding week (August 1-6, 2016) and August is Breastfeeding Awareness month.

Some of you are pretty sick of me posting breastfeeding memes and articles on the facebook page and have expressed your displeasure at what you perceive as my “bullying” mamas to breastfeed, and shaming those who have chosen not to breastfeed. I am a breastfeeding advocate to my heart, that I cannot deny. But my passion for women to breastfeed their babies stems from the unequivocal benefits that occur to both mamas and babies when breastfeeding occurs.

When babies breastfeed, they receive cells, hormones, and antibodies in breastmilk which protect them from illness. This protection is unique and changes to meet a baby’s needs as he/she grows. Until a baby receives all of his/her immunizations, they will receive protection via their mama’s antigens via breastmilk. Breastfeeding has also been linked to reduced risks of:

  • Asthma
  • Childhood leukemia
  • Childhood obesity
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Lower respiratory infections
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Type 2 diabetes

Likewise, mamas who breastfeed typically (but not always) lose their pregnancy weight faster. Mamas who breastfeed will have reduced uterine bleeding post partum due to the oxytocin released and the increased uterine contractions, and their uteri return to pre-pregnancy size and position sooner than in mamas who do not breastfeed. Breastfeeding also leads to increased bonding between mamas and their infants as they are very close, skin to skin and at times gazing eye to eye. This closeness promotes a sense of safety and security in infants enabling them to feel soothed and less fussy. According to La Leche League, moms who breastfeed sleep more, are less likely to miss work due to illness save money and are at lower risk of several diseases and forms of cancer. Breastfeeding has also been linked to reduced rates of post partum depression and reduced severity in post partum depressive symptoms.

Still, I get it. Many women will not breastfeed their babies, either because they were not able to breastfeed or because they simply did not want to. That is okay. How a woman chooses to feed her child is a very personal decision. But as a clinician and women’s health educator, I would be remiss if I didn’t provide you with the most up to date information and resources so that you can make wise health care choices for yourself and your family and live the healthiest lifestyle possible.

I’m currently working towards the IBCLC credential to become an international board certified lactation consultant. In my training, the most common issue that I see is women not having the support that they need for breastfeeding success. Breastfeeding is natural, but not always easy. Sometimes all a mama needs is guidance and support. You’d be amazed at how simply changing a baby’s position (so that the angle at which their little mouth approaches the breast) will dramatically reduce breastfeeding pain and cracking nipples. Likewise many mamas don’t believe that they are making enough breastmilk to feed their babies and stop thinking that they aren’t feeding their babies enough. Mamas can be reassured their babies are getting enough to eat when they note nursing weights increased after breastfeeding. Additionally, if a baby is healthy, happy and gaining weight appropriately, then a mama can rest assured that she is making a sufficient amount of breastmilk.

While there are numerous books and articles available to guide a new mama on her breastfeeding journey, I am a staunch proponent of breastfeeding consultations (and hence my training!). When a mama is before me, I can see how she holds the baby, how the baby is behaving, how the baby is latching to the breast….And then it is often easy to see the possible obstacles to successful, pain-free breastfeeding and to correct them. Sometimes babies need to more inline with Mamas’ chests and resting babies on a pillow or two makes breastfeeding easier. Sometimes having mama lay on her side and nurse is helpful. And if a mama is having nipple soreness, cracking or has inverted nipples, a nipple shield may prove invaluable to her breastfeeding success.

Mamas, in a perfect world, all mamas would breastfeed their babies. I do believe that many more mamas here in the US would breastfeed or breastfeed longer if their efforts were more accepted and supported. We’re getting there. More businesses are providing areas in which mamas can nurse their babies. Employers are providing areas where mamas can either nurse or pump breastmilk. Many hospitals are obtaining the Baby Friendly designation, a designation that states the hospital is committed to exclusive breastfeeding as the most beneficial infant nutrition and all hospital staff is trained and dedicated to this initiative. NO FORMULA IS PROVIDED IN THE HOSPITAL AND NO FORMULA SAMPLES ARE GIVEN TO MAMAS! Finally, more and more birth workers (like me) are boning up on their breastfeeding skills and making themselves available to help and support mamas. Look for these Breastfeeding Consultants and supports in your area:

IBCLC- International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

CLC-Certified Lactation Consultants

WIC Breastfeeding Counselors

La Leche League

Peer Breastfeeding Counselors

Labor and Delivery Nurses.

It is my mission to help every mama who wants to and is physically able, to have a healthy baby. It is also my mission to help and support her to love and a raise that baby. Breastfeeding is quite possibly the best way for an infant to start out in life. While I know that is is not easy, if a mama wants to breastfeed, I’m here to do everything that I can to help. If you can’t reach one of the above supports, I can assist you. Simply send an e-mail to info@mamasonbedrest.com and we’ll schedule a time to talk and see what you need.

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