It’s August and that means it’s National Breastfeeding Month here in the United States, and August 1-7, 2015 is World Breastfeeding Week! There is a lot of hubbub about breastfeeding in the US news. Advocates encourage women to reap the benefits of breastfeeding for themselves and their babies, while those less “enthusiastic” about public breastfeeding press for a more austere approach to this timeless practice.
Breastfeeding is a completely natural event and most all animal species breastfeed their young. Mamas of most species will breastfeed their young until the young are mature enough to eat adult food, then breastfeeding stops and the offspring eats with the rest of the pack/herd. Animals get everything nutrient and immune defense they need from their mamas.
Young animals do have an advantage over human infants, though. While most young animals will become mature enough to stop nursing in a matter of months, human infants, if nursed to the extent that nature intended, would nurse for up to 5 years! So I understand it when some mamas say that they don’t want to nurse that long. Breastmilk is a remarkable substance. When a mama breastfeeds, her body miraculously creates breastmilk with just the right nutrient balance, just the right consistency and just the right amount for the growing infant. In fact, as the infant grows, the consistency, composition and amount of breastmilk changes to meet the needs of the growing infant. And while developing the skill and finesse needed to breastfeed with ease does often take some practice, once mastered, mama and baby are free to go without the hassle of worrying about carrying bottles, formula, or worrying about keeping the breastmilk fresh or warming it up for baby to drink.
So when women tell me that they don’t want to breastfeed, I have to admit, I am always a bit taken aback; They want to forgo all those nutrients, all that convenience, all the immune system and developmental benefits…? But we all have to remember, It is a mama’s right to decide what is the best way for her to feed her baby. Yet it is my sincere hope that every woman will at least attempt to breastfeed her infant-even if only for a few weeks-in order to give her baby this most beneficial nourishment.
Why am I such a strong proponent of breastfeeding? Because of its benefits for both mamas and babies.
Research suggests that breastfed babies have lower risks of:
- Childhood leukemia
- Childhood obesity
- Ear infections
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Lower respiratory infections
- Necrotizing (nek-roh-TEYE-zing) enterocolitis (en-TUR-oh-coh-lyt-iss), a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in pre-term infants
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Type 2 diabetes
But the benefits don’t stop there. Breastfeeding also has significant benefits for mamas! Breastfeeding leads to a lower risks of :
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- In some women, breastfeeding speeds pregnancy weight loss
- Breastfeeding has been associated with reduced rates of Post Partum Depression
While almost all research sources, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Academy of Family Practice, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization and many other national and international organizations recommend breastfeeding exclusively for at least 6 months, but preferably for one year, again, every woman has to make the decision that is best for her and her baby. So that women can make informed decisions, here are some resources about breastfeeding.
Calling your attention to an amazing organization that is doing exceptional work globally for mamas, The Maternal Health TaskForce (MHTF). A project of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health, MHTF is working towards:
- Making the most up to date evidence-based information is available to practitioners, provider, researchers and anyone with a vested interest in helping and supporting women during childbearing
- Provide opportunities for the global maternal health community to come together to discuss and create unified policies on women’s health issues globally
- Provide resources and support for research in Maternal/Infant/Child Health
- Train the next generation of Global Women’s Health Practitioners and researchers.
I receive the MHTF e-newsletter and the last newsletter was all about Maternal Mental Health. Maternal Mental Health is an often overlooked (ignored!!) part of women’s health. Current research estimates are that 10-15% of women in upper income countries (like the US, Canada, Australia and the UK for example) experience perinatal mental health disorders. In lower and middle income countries (Africa and parts of Asia), the current estimate is closer to 33% and many researchers feel that this number is low because until now mental health in childbearing women in these countries hasn’t been addressed. However, the impact of adverse maternal mental health has had significant impact on maternal health, infant and child health and the maternal child bond, so researchers and clinicians both are very keen to study the various mental health disorders common in childbearing women-mainly depression and anxiety.
Over the last month, MHTF had a blog carnival addressing mental health issues in childbearing women in their Mental Health: The Missing piece in Maternal Health series. It’s a really interesting series of blog posts and reflect how pervasive mental health disorders are in childbearing women, and how overlooked the signs and symptoms have been until very recently. The blogs also address how the stigma of mental health is so strong in all countries regardless of economic status, and this stigma is keeping many women from receiving much needed care. The articles do a wonderful job of highlighting the issues surrounding the stigma of mental illness, how women are not being heard in terms of the emotional toll of adverse birth outcomes and barriers to care. I highly recommend taking a look.
For those of you not really interested in global women’s health and need assistance closer to home, (i.e. for yourself!!) I am happy to announce that our Third Thursday Teleseminars are going video! It has long been a dream of mine to be able to bring Mamas on Bedrest together to be able to talk and share ! I have been researching platforms on which to do this for years and until recently, the platforms were just too grainy (i.e the images were really not that good), Platforms were only able to accommodate up to 10 participants or platforms that could accommodate more than 10 participants had hefty user fees or required expensive software. Now there is Zoom web conferencing and it’s amazing! I attended a web conference using it last week and I could clearly hear and see all of the other participants! So we are giving Zoom a test drive for our Third Thursday Teleseminar, July 16, 2015. Login details will be shared in our upcoming newsletter and will be available on our website. So if you have concerns about anxiety, depression or other feelings you may be having during your bedrest journey, this is the perfect time and place to bring your concerns.
In the meantime, share pressing questions or concerns in the comments section below or send an e-mail to Info@mamasonbedrest.com for a 24hr response.
The tagline for this business is “It’s all about mamas!” I am as interested in your success as mamas as I am in you having a successful pregnancy. I am always happy to hear of mamas using what they learned during their pregnancies, what they know for sure as a result of having been pregnant, and what they want to share with the world now that they are “seasoned” mamas.
Today I share with you an interview that I had with a good friend of mine and new mama, Emmi Wiles. Emmi and I met in a woman’s program offered at Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, and I have had the great pleasure to witness Emmi’s journey from loving daughter who graciously loved her father through his passage from this life, to newlywed and now to mama (FYI Emmi was not on bedrest!!).
Emmi is also a talented artisan and creates all manner of art that she will be sharing on her etsy page. (Stay tuned and stay in touch with her for more art adventures!!) But for now, she is a full time, hands on mama to a little 6 month old boy who is her inspiration for her latest blog, “Shedding Pounds After Gaining a Baby”. The blog is Emmi’s chronicle of her motherhood journey and how she is doing her best to weave motherhood into womanhood. It’s a delightful read and I hope you will all take some time to stop by and give Emmi encouragement. For now, listen to how
“Shedding Pounds After Gaining a Baby” was birthed and share you comments in the comments section below.
Mamas, Have you created something new as a result of your pregnancy? Would you like to share it with other mamas? Please share details of your new venture/adventure with Info@mamasonbedrest.com and tell is what’s up. We’d love to hear and support you!