self care

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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Mamas on Bedrest: How Does Breastfeeding Help Prevent Breast Cancer-REALLY??

October 14th, 2015

nursing infantHello Mamas!!

I am sure that we are all well aware by now of the benefits of breastfeeding for infants. Human breastmilk is the perfect food for infants because,

  • It has the proper amount of nutrients and adapts to the nutrition needs of the infantIt is easily digested,
  • It requires no preparation or special storage,
  • It is is always the right temperature (when directly from the breast).
  • Babies that are breastfed are less likely to have ear infections
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to have allergies and asthma and if they do have allergies and asthma the conditions tend to be less severe
  • Breastfed babies have a reduced incidence of developing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Breastfed children have a lower incidence of obesity

With all of these great benefits for children, you’d think that we here in the US would be jumping through all sorts of hoops to make sure that ALL mamas breastfeed their babies. There has been a lot of information distributed and I think that more mamas are breastfeeding their infants-at least for the first few months of life. However, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states,

“In 2011, 79% of newborn infants started to breastfeed. Yet breastfeeding did not continue for as long as recommended. Of infants born in 2011, 49% were breastfeeding at 6 months and 27% at 12 months.”

So while we are seeing improvement, we still have a ways to go to reach the Healthy People 2020 goal of approximately 82% of infants being exclusively breastfed at birth. Yet, would these numbers change if mamas knew the benefits of breastfeeding on their health, in particular on their risks of developing breast cancer?

Rachel King, a health education specialist in MD Anderson’s Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center reports:

“Research shows mothers who breastfeed lower their risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer. And, breastfeeding longer than the recommended six months can provide additional protection.”

Most women who breastfeed experience hormonal changes during lactation that delay their menstrual periods. This reduces a woman’s lifetime exposure to estrogen, which can promote breast cancer cell growth. In addition, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, you shed breast tissue. “This shedding can help remove cells with potential DNA damage, thus helping to reduce your chances of developing breast cancer,” King adds.

Breastfeeding also can help lower your ovarian cancer risk by preventing ovulation. And the less you ovulate, the less exposure to estrogen and abnormal ovarian cells that could become cancer.

So EXACTLY how can mamas lower their breast (and ovarian) cancer risks by breastfeeding?

  1. Have their babies before age 30
  2. Breastfeed for at least 6 months
  3. Get education and support from a lactation consultant
  4. Take Breastfeeding classes
  5. Get the support of family, friends and employers
  6. Ask employers for quiet, private places to pump

Breastfeeding is not chic nor a trend. Breastfeeding is the natural way that human babies were intended to be fed. Now we know that breastfeeding is beneficial not only to babies but also protective against breast cancer for mamas. What other incentives do we need? Let’s do this, Mamas!

October is Breast cancer awareness month. Mamas, If you have questions about breast cancer, have a family history of breast cancer or want to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, start by breastfeeding your infant for at least 6 months. For more information, speak with your health care provider, consult with a lactation consultant and check out the information below (This is just a sample of what is available and what was cited in this post. For sure there is more information available!!). As always, you can post your questions and comments below for a ready reply!

References:

DrWeil.com

MD Anderson Center

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-US Breastfeeding Report Card 2014

 

  

Mamas on Bedrest: (Breast) Milk-It Does a Body Good!

August 4th, 2015

wbw2015-logo-m2Hello Mamas!

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:

  • Asthma
  • 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.

Resources

La Leche League

The CDC Guide to Strategies to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies

WomensHealth.gov

The American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Family Practice