In the News: Women are not breastfeeding long enough

Submitted by Courtney on Tue, 03/09/2010 - 19:24

Seeing how formula is flying off the shelves at ludicrous prices at grocery stores, any new parent can recognize that a fair amount of mommies are choosing to formula feed their young ones rather than breastfeed. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that mommies breastfeed for a minimum of 6 months (hopefully up to 1 year, and then again hopefully to when your child is two years of age) because of the numerous health benefits that breastfeeding offers our children; so why are so many parents choosing a less healthy way to feed their children?

Here’s where I climb off of my high horse. Sure, when a mother is pregnant she may have every intention of breastfeeding her child. It is pounded into each and every mind of a pregnant woman that “breast is best” and that our child deserves no less. But what every new mother and mother-to-be doesn’t realize is just how darn difficult breastfeeding can really be! Before succumbing to pressures and guilt about breastfeeding, arm yourself before you have your baby or after with these tips and techniques on how to make breastfeeding a successful experience.

Change Positions

We are so used to seeing a child laying across the lap of a mom, suckling at her breast in contentment. When you’re first getting your child to latch on and get used to sucking, that position can perhaps be the most difficult for your child to master. Discuss different feeding methods with your doctor or midwife before your child is born and practice how to do it with a doll (don’t worry, no one’s looking).

TIP: The best holds for many new moms is the “football hold” or lying down with your baby while they enjoy your breast.

Pinch the Nip

All women have nipples of different shapes and sizes. Ideally, if you have an areola the size of a silver dollar and a nipple that will stand at attention you have the best chance at quick success when breastfeeding. If you have large nipples, inverted or flat nipples, you will want to try pinching your nipple before bringing it to your baby’s mouth. This will help lessen the initial amount of skin your child needs to pull into his or her mouth to drink your milk.

Abandon all Breastfeeding Aids

Nipple shields are an absolute “no-no” at the beginning. Young infants have to learn, just as you do, to breastfeed and do not naturally understand how to suckle at a plastic funnel. As painful as it may be at first, clench your teeth and count to ten while your baby is first latching on and getting geared up. Your body WILL adjust to the sucking and you WILL NOT be in pain forever.

TIP: Invest in a good nipple cream that will help sooth and moisturize your tender nipples after each feeding.

It Will Take Time

We seem to somewhat assume that mothers and babies alike must naturally know how to breastfeed. Fact of the matter is both parent and child needs to learn how to feed at the breast. Though some babies may get the hang of the whole “breastfeeding thing” quite easily, most do not. Be patient with yourself and your child. If you are concerned about your child receiving adequate amounts of food, pump some milk and finger feed it to him or her.

TIP: The finger feeding technique saved me tons of stress and heart ache when I was first learning how to breastfeed. Be sure to discuss how to use your breast pump while you are in the hospital with your doctor or midwife, and enlist in “outside help” once you are released from the hospital (such as a doula, your midwife, a breastfeeding coach, a nurse, or a member of La Leche League International).

photo by Chris Richardson

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