World Breastfeeding Week: Don't give up

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s 2004 statistics, 70% of US moms tried breastfeeding (up from 55% in 1993). 36% were still nursing by 6 months and only 17% make it to 12 months.

According to Babytalk magazine’s survey, 45% of moms say they quit because they had trouble breastfeeding. If you’re having trouble, get help! Call or visit La Leche League or visit the International Lactation Consultants Association to find a lactation consultant who can visit you in your home. Also, attend a meeting of local La Leche group (the leaders are SO knowledgable)- they are free. Don’t assume that you "just don’t have/make enough milk" or that your baby doesn’t want to or can’t latch on.

Nursing should not hurt. If you experience any pain, talk to a lactation consultant.

Click the extended post to read more tips on perservering!

Surround yourself with support. Even if you’re not havingany problems, it’s a great idea to attend a La Leche League Meeting orfind a breastfeeding-positive new mother’s group. This includesenlisting your boyfriend or husband’s support. If he doesn’t know muchabout breastfeeding, educate him!

Involve your husband/boyfriend. In the September issue of Parents Magazine, there is anarticle in the ‘dads’ section on breastfeeding. The article, called’Father Knows Breast’, briefly talks about how important it is for anursing mom to have support:

"It takes three people to nurse: your wife, your baby – and you.A new study in Pediatrics found that moms whose husbands took a 40minute class on how to deal with common breastfeeding problems (such asdiscomfort, concern that baby isn’t getting enough milk, and thedifficulty of pumping) were 67 percent more likely to still beexclusively nursing at six months than those whose spouses who didn’tattend it. Study author Alfredo Pisacane, M.D., says a dad’s supportand encouragement may be even more helpful to nursing moms than theadvice of a health professional."

Whether you’re single or you have apartner, do yourself a favor and educate the people who are close toyou about breastfeeding. It’s beneficial to both you and your baby tosurround yourself with people who are 100% supportive of your decisionto nurse your baby.

If you’re pregnant, when you interview pediatricians, ask them how they feel about breastfeeding. If you don’t feel s/he is supportive, they will not be helpful inregard to your breastfeeding when your baby is born. Keep interviewingthem until you find someone you are comfortable with OR just realizethat you shouldn’t pay too much attention to their breastfeedingadvice. Doctors receive about 20 minutes of breastfeeding education inmedical school.

According to Babytalk magazine’s survey, 46% of moms didn’t realize the time commitment involved in breastfeeding. Newbornsnurse 8-12 times a day however, by 3 months, babies nurse lessfrequently (approximately every 2-3 hours) and as they get older, theynurse even less. If you are thinking of giving up before 3 months, tryto keep going because it really does get easier. Also realize that youneed to let stuff like the laundry, cleaning, entertaining visitors,wait- you can’t do everything and right now the most important thing isfeeding and caring for your baby. Other things you can do to make iteasier is nursing lying down, sleeping when the baby sleeps (everyonesuggests this and they’re right!), and asking for help from otherpeople.

Learn to breastfeed in public. Women who don’t feelcomfortable nursing in public (aka NIP) find it harder to nurse to ayear. If you’re not comfortable NIP, you’ll either need to limit tripsoutside of your home or pump milk for bottles- neither of which aremuch fun. Enlist a fearless friend and practice. Realize that youhave the right to nurse your child in public and that you are feedingand comforting your baby. If you are very modest, you may want to tryusing a nursing shawl such as L’Oved Baby’s Nursing Shawlbut in my experience, you may find it easier and less obtrusive to liftyour shirt from the botton and make sure your baby covers your exposedskin. To the outside observer, a nursing baby resembles a sleepingbaby!

Take breastfeeding one day at a time. Instead of making adecision now about how long you will nurse your child, try taking itone day at a time. The first few weeks and months with your newbornare going to be hard, no matter what. If you start thinking aboutnursing to a year or beyond, you may feel overwhelmed. If you feelit’s very hard, just set small goals for yourself and before you knowit, you’ll be blowing out the candles on your child’s firstcake and realize that a one year is still a baby!

FINALLY, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It is best toexclusively breastfeed your child until he is 6 months old, but ifthat’s not possible, it’s ok to supplement with formula. It’s betterto supplement than to just abandon breastfeeding altogether. Rememberthat any breastmilk a baby gets is wonderful.

Source: "Why Don’t Women Nurse Longer?" Babytalk, August 2006, and "10 Tips to Breastfeeding for a Year," New Beginnings, January-February 2006, and "Father Knows Breast," Parents Magazine, September 2006 issue, pg 98

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