Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week

Since this is World Breastfeeding Week, I thought I'd make yet another entry about Breastfeeding.

I know this is a sensitive topic for many mothers on both sides. I have become so passionate about breastfeeding because I wish that I had support and had fully educated myself on the benefits when I first became a mother. Now, because I wasn't fully educated and didn't have anyone pushing me to breastfeed, I like to encourage soon to be new moms I know to at least give it a try. I absolutely know breastfeeding does not work for everyone, for many different reasons. But even breastfeeding for a short time is better than not doing it at all. The longer, the better, of course. I know several mothers who work and still have a breastfeeding relationship for a year and beyond. I admire those women because I know for some, pumping isn't easy. If there are no medical issues preventing you from breastfeeding, just give it a try!

Breastfeeding has been one of the most beautiful things I have done. The bond that it creates is like nothing else, The knowledge that I am giving my baby the best I can is comforting and knowing that I am giving them everything they need from me is amazing. It's natural. It is what our bodies as women were made to do.

Now if only the stigma, negative perception and false information about Breastfeeding would dwindle away.

Here are some Breastfeeding Myths.

There is no (not enough) milk during the first 3 or 4 days after birth.
This is absolutely not true! The mother produces colostrum, which is very high in nutrients and antibodies. This is plenty for the baby until the actual milk comes in.

Pumping is a good way of knowing how much milk the mother has.
No! Many women (myself included) cannot pump near as much as a properly latched nursing baby can get. Pumping only shows you how much you can pump, not how much milk the baby is able to get.

Breastfeeding babies need extra vitamin D.
This one is a NO also. This is something I was hung up on for a while. The pedi here pushes the vit. supplement very heavily. The research I've done based on studies made me feel pretty confident it's not completely necessary. I say this is something that is up to the mother and not a MUST.

It is easier to bottle feed than to breastfeed.
No way! I can tell you, when you're exhausted in the middle of the night and your newborn wants to eat, being able to just lay there and breastfeed is so much more convenient than preparing a bottle.

Modern formulas are almost the same as breastmilk.
Nope. Formulas contain no antibodies, no living cells, no enzymes, no hormones. They contain much more aluminum, manganese, cadmium and iron than breastmilk. They contain significantly more protein than breastmilk. The proteins and fats are fundamentally different from those in breastmilk. Formulas do not vary from the beginning of the feed to the end of the feed, or from day 1 to day 7 to day 30, or from woman to woman, or from baby to baby... Your breastmilk is made as required to suit your baby. Formulas are made to suit every baby, and thus no baby. Formulas succeed only at making babies grow well, usually, but there is more to breastfeeding than getting the baby to grow quickly.

If the mother is taking medicine she should not breastfeed.
There are very few medicines that a mother cannot take safely while breastfeeding. A very small amount of most medicines appears in the milk, but usually in such small quantities that there is no concern. If a medicine is truly of concern, there are usually equally effective, alternative medicines which are safe.

Breastfeeding makes your breasts sag.
No. Breastfeeding itself, does NOT make breasts sag. Weight gain/loss, pregnancy etc. can contribute to breasts sagging.

Here are some fact on the importance and benefits of breastfeeding from

Breastfeeding Protects Babies

Early breast milk is liquid gold – Known as liquid gold, colostrum (coh-LOSS-trum) is the thick yellow first breast milk that you make during pregnancy and just after birth. This milk is very rich in nutrients and antibodies to protect your baby. Although your baby only gets a small amount of colostrum at each feeding, it matches the amount his or her tiny stomach can hold. (Visit How to Know Your Baby is Getting Enough Milk to see just how small your newborn’s tummy is!)

Your breast milk changes as your baby grows – Colostrum changes into what is called mature milk. By the third to fifth day after birth, this mature breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein to help your baby continue to grow. It is a thinner type of milk than colostrum, but it provides all of the nutrients and antibodies your baby needs.

Breast milk is easier to digest – For most babies — especially premature babies — breast milk is easier to digest than formula. The proteins in formula are made from cow’s milk and it takes time for babies’ stomachs to adjust to digesting them.

Breast milk fights disease – The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk protect babies from illness. This protection is unique; formula cannot match the chemical makeup of human breast milk. In fact, among formula-fed babies, ear infections and diarrhea are more common. Formula-fed babies also have higher risks of:

Necrotizing (nek-roh-TEYE-zing) enterocolitis (en-TUR-oh-coh-lyt-iss), a disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract in preterm infants.
Lower respiratory infections
Atopic dermatitis, a type of skin rash
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Childhood leukemia

Breastfeeding has also been shown to lower the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Mothers Benefit From Breastfeeding

Life can be easier when you breastfeed – Breastfeeding may take a little more effort than formula feeding at first. But it can make life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. Plus, when you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. You do not have to buy, measure, and mix formula. And there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night! You can satisfy your baby’s hunger right away when breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can save money – Formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year, depending on how much your baby eats. Breastfed babies are also sick less often, which can lower health care costs.

Breastfeeding can feel great – Physical contact is important to newborns. It can help them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Mothers can benefit from this closeness, as well. Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time to bond. The skin-to-skin contact can boost the mother’s oxytocin (OKS-ee-TOH-suhn) levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps milk flow and can calm the mother.

Breastfeeding can be good for the mother’s health, too – Breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of these health problems in women:

Type 2 diabetes
Breast cancer
Ovarian cancer
Postpartum depression

Experts are still looking at the effects of breastfeeding on osteoporosis and weight loss after birth. Many studies have reported greater weight loss for breastfeeding mothers than for those who don’t. But more research is needed to understand if a strong link exists.

Mothers miss less work – Breastfeeding mothers miss fewer days from work because their infants are sick less often.

Breastfeeding Benefits Society

The nation benefits overall when mothers breastfeed. Recent research shows that if 90 percent of families breastfed exclusively for 6 months, nearly 1,000 deaths among infants could be prevented. The United States would also save $13 billion per year — medical care costs are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants. Breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.

Breastfeeding also contributes to a more productive workforce since mothers miss less work to care for sick infants. Employer medical costs are also lower.

Breastfeeding is also better for the environment. There is less trash and plastic waste compared to that produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.

Breastfeeding During an Emergency

When an emergency occurs, breastfeeding can save lives:

Breastfeeding protects babies from the risks of a contaminated water supply.
Breastfeeding can help protect against respiratory illnesses and diarrhea. These diseases can be fatal in populations displaced by disaster.
Breast milk is the right temperature for babies and helps to prevent hypothermia, when the body temperature drops too low.
Breast milk is readily available without needing other supplies.

These are Breastfeeding Statistics from

73.9% were ever breastfed (this can mean AT ALL, even if it was 2 days)
43.4% were still breastfeeding at 6 months of age
22.7% were breastfeeding at 1 year of age
33.1% were exclusively breastfed through 3 months of age
13.6% were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age

I find the statistics kind of sad really.

I hope after reading this, at least 1 woman will think more about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is Beautiful.

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