The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has dedicated August to breastfeeding awareness. The breastfeeding awareness campaign has the goal of encouraging new moms to breastfeed, as well as helping breastfeeding mothers find and develop the tools they need to keep their breastfeeding relationship going as long as they desire. In the spirit of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, here are some good reasons to breastfeed and some hints and tips to help you out.
Reasons to Breastfeed
- Breast milk is the only food that you will ever be able to give your baby that is designed specifically for your baby. Have you ever heard breast milk called a “living substance”? That’s because it changes – all the time. It’s different when your baby is 8 months old than it was when she was a newborn. It’s different in the morning than it is at night. It even changes when your baby is sick, in order to provide the antibodies she needs.
- Breast milk is free. And it’s probably the only thing you’ll need to take care of your child that ever will be free, so why not take advantage of it?
- Breastfeeding is good for you too. Breastfeeding helps your uterus shrink back to normal size after giving birth, helps prevent postnatal hemorrhage, and reduces your risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis, and anemia. For some women, breastfeeding may help them shed the pregnancy pounds.
Hints and Tips
- One common concern of new moms is whether or not the baby is getting enough to eat. If your baby is gaining weight and has plenty of wet and dirty diapers, your milk supply is probably fine. A baby who suddenly wants to eat more than normal is often about to have a growth spurt. Also, don’t try to measure your milk supply by the amount you can pump, as babies are much better and more efficient at getting milk out than any pump.
- Speaking of pumps, another common concern is going back to work. If you can pump or hand express milk while you’re at work, great! Pumping will also help build your milk supply. That said, if you can’t pump at work, you can still breastfeed: many women give formula while they’re at work and breastfeed at home. Your body will adjust so that you have milk when your baby needs it. Remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
- New moms are often concerned that breastfeeding will hurt, and I’ll be honest: In the beginning, it might. But as long as your baby has a good latch, it shouldn’t hurt for long. Make sure you take advantage of the lactation consultant at the hospital… she can help you achieve a good latch and show you proper positioning techniques. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Fortunately, moms who can’t breastfeed have formula as a healthy alternative. But if you can, give breastfeeding a try. Whether it’s for a day, a year, or anywhere in between, you’ll be doing a good thing for your baby and yourself.