World Breastfeeding Week is coming in August. The goal is too bring awareness to breastfeeding which in actuality seems kinda silly to me. Moms have two feeding implements on their chest at all times and we have to have a national awareness week to make them aware of what they are for?? Hmmm. With the advent of baby bottles and formula feeding it seems breastfeeding has taken a back seat but there are probably hundreds of reasons why it should get the attention it deserves. I truly believe that formula feeding will never – EVER come close to being as good for babies as good old fashioned breast milk. It is nature’s perfect baby food and no BPA in the food like with formula cans. Breastfeeding is the easiest, least expensive, and greenest option for you and your baby.
Think about all the waste generated with the manufacturing and use of millions of baby bottles, millions of cans/bottles of formula, drop in liners, nipples, detergent and water used to wash bottles daily. The practice of bottle/formula feeding is amounting to millions of tons of waste each year.
Beyond all the health benefits…and the green benefits…I found breastfeeding to be the most deliciously wonderful bonding experience imaginable. Breastfeeding didn’t work out so great for my first baby. I let the hospital talk me into supplemental feeding when my milk didn’t let down until 3 days after birth. They sent me home with 3 cases of formula and because I didn’t want them to go to waste….I ended up only breastfeeding 50% of the time and then I quit altogether at 4 months. Coincidence that my first baby was very unhealthy, got Epstein Barr, and had a terrible vaccine reaction…I don’t think so.
My second baby was breastfed until she was two years old with 6 months of that spent nursing her baby brother too and I would have continued nursing both of them in tandem as long as they wanted but cancer kinda ruined it. It wasn’t always easy being the sole feeder of my kids, or nursing while pregnant, or nursing two kids, but it was worth it. Happy times :)
But in acknowledgment of how it not always easy to stick with breastfeeding I have collected some tips:
1) A natural and unmedicated birth is the best start to a breastfeeding relationship. Both mom and baby are more alert and responsive and can start their journey under the best possible circumstances.
2) Alert hospital staff in writing and verbally that you are going to be breastfeeding and that you do not want bottles or pacifiers to be given to your baby…no artificial nipples, as this can create confusion and frustration.
3) Find doctors who support breastfeeding and won’t recommend weaning to formula at the first sign of difficulty. You need doctors who will help you make breastfeeding work for as long as it takes.
4) Babies nurse for a wide variety of reasons, and some of them have little to do with hunger. Nursing frequently ensures you will have a healthy and steady milk supply to meet your baby’s needs. It is also a source of soothing and comfort for baby.
5) Get comfortable nursing in public. If you start to feel like a caged animal that can never leave the house because breastfeeding needs to stay behind closed doors you might get frustrated fast. The general public needs to learn acceptance of this natural practice anyway. Practice in front of a mirror so you can learn to do so discreetly. Nursing covers are also very helpful.
6) Get the latch right. A proper latch onto the breast is one of the most, if not THE most important thing you can do to avoid pain and ensure adequate draining of the breast (which leads to an abundant milk supply). Get help if you and your baby are having trouble or if breastfeeding is causing you pain.
7) Cosleep! Bringing baby into your bed makes breastfeeding so much easier. Everyone generally gets more sleep because 2:00 am and 4:00 am feedings can be handled by just rolling over and making your breast accessible. It just can’t get any easier to handle night time feeding.
Check out my review of a wonderful breastfeeding book called Mama’s Knows Breast.