The week of August 1-7, 2022 is World Breastfeeding Week. This is a time to raise awareness and spread information about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a healthy, natural way to feed your baby, and something you likely have considered if you are expecting.
"World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organizations dedicated to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide.
Annually, WABA coordinates and organizes the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) between Aug 1-7. Since 2016, we have aligned our WBW campaign to United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We call this WBW-SDGs Campaign."
The theme for this year's World Breastfeeding Week is "Step Up for Breastfeeding."
When my girls were small, I breastfed both of them. It was easier, logistically, with my younger daughter because the workplace has become more friendly over the years for nursing moms.
Health Benefits of Breastfeeding
Since breastmilk is naturally tailored to your baby's needs, it can have some health benefits for your little one. In addition to nutritional benefits, your little one will get some of your immunity to disease from your breast milk.
According to NHS UK,
Breastfeeding can help to reduce your baby's risk of:
infections, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
diarrhoea and vomiting, with fewer visits to hospital as a result
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
cardiovascular disease in adulthood
These are additional benefits to breastfeeding that have been found in studies for babies who are breastfed.
Even if you don't breastfeed for long, or do combo-feeding with formula, there will still be some benefits for your child.
Starting to Breastfeed
When you have your baby and are in the hospital, you will be encouraged to breastfeed your baby, and the hospital staff will help to show you how if you like. Many hospitals have lactation consultants or nurses who are happy to assist you with learning to breastfeed your baby.
The nurse or lactation consultant can show you how to position the baby, how to get them to latch, and help you with any difficulties that you may be having.
Once you leave the hospital, if you are having trouble with breastfeeding, you can go back to the hospital or to a clinic to get additional assistance.
Some women find breastfeeding to be easier than others. As a first time mom, it can be a struggle learning to get your baby to be fed. I struggled with my oldest, and had to go to a lactation consultant several times. As a second-time mom it was much easier, as I already knew what to expect.
A couple of things that do make it easier to breastfeed are having a comfortable chair (I like a rocking chair), a nursing pillow, and having snacks and water nearby. It also helps to buy food that you can eat with one hand, like Hot Pockets.
Keeping a book or your phone nearby is good too, in case your little one falls asleep while nursing. That way, you don't have to move them.
Although breastfeeding is healthy for your baby, it can feel like a challenge for you at times. You may struggle to get your baby to latch, to find a comfortable feeding position, have a low milk supply, or get a clogged duct.
It is possible to overcome most challenges. If you are struggling, you may want to talk to your doctor or lactation consultant for professional support. However, if you are having undue stress about breastfeeding, you may wish to switch to using formula instead.
A lot of moms feel stress or shame about stopping breastfeeding, but the most important thing is that you are caring for your baby to the best of your ability.
I only breastfed my oldest until she was 9 months old, although it is recommended to do so for a hear. She bit me while feeding, and after that I was done. She had been combo-fed before that, so it was easy to make the switch.
Going Back to Work
When you go back to work, if you wish to continue breastfeeding, you can pump milk during the day when you are away from your baby. This expressed milk then can be used to bottle feed your baby when you are away from them.
To prepare for going back to work, you can start pumping breast milk and freezing it after your baby is two weeks old. There are special milk bags that you can get to save your breastmilk.
In the United States, you can also now get a free breast pump from your insurance, so if you plan to breastfeed, you can call your insurance to order it before your baby is born in order to be prepared.
Typically, most babies will nurse about every two hours. So, you will want to pump in-between your baby's feedings. Your milk supply tends to be highest in the morning, so a good time to pump may be an hour after your baby's first feeding of the day.
If you start pumping a couple of weeks before you go back to work, it will help to increase your milk supply, as well as provide you with a stock of milk for when you go back to work.
Every Baby is Different
Just like every baby is different, each nursing relationship will be a bit different too. Breastfeeding can be a great way to bond with your baby and find closeness with them. I always loved those little snuggles with my little ones.
Like I said earlier, I nursed my oldest until 9 months. With my younger daughter, I nursed until she was 2.5 years old. So, similarly your breastfeeding journey with each of your children will likely be different as well.
Some babies will wean themselves as they start to eat table food, others will want to continue as long as possible. It really depends on your child's temperament and your own needs.
As you continue to breastfeed, do what works for you and your baby. If you feel it is time for them to stop nursing, or it isn't working out for you anymore, it is OK to stop and give them either formula (if they are under a year) or milk in place of breastmilk.
Let me know in the comments if you have any additional questions about breastfeeding and I will be happy to answer them for you!
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