Breast Is Best For Babies, But It Doesn’t Suck For Moms Either

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shutterstock_75258277__1370954199_142.196.156.251Don’t worry, this isn’t another debate about whether “breast is best.” I am firmly in the camp that believes however a mother decides to feed her child is “best” for her family and herself. I do find this new study in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology interesting though. It seems there are a lot of health benefits for breastfeeding mothers. If you can stick with it (and want to) I want to share some invaluable advice I got that helped me stick to it in those harrowing first days.

First, about the study. The Huffington Post broke it down:

A startling study published last week in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that if 90 percent of moms in the United States breastfed, there would be 53,000 fewer cases of high blood pressure, 14,000 fewer heart attacks and nearly 5,000 fewer cases of breast cancer.

Wow. Okay, so if it’s not giving you a bunch of stress and anxiety – it may actually be good for your health. We all know that breastfeeding is not something that everyone can do for a variety of reasons. I had to give up much earlier than I wanted with my first child because I had to return to a work environment where there was absolutely no way for me to pump and maintain my milk supply. Breastfeeding takes time – and not all mothers can afford that. But what if you do have the resources to devote the time to breastfeeding? Can you be sure that you will make it through that first difficult week?

I had an amazing lactation consultant visit me in the hospital when my son was born. It turns out that I was the only woman recovering from a c-section that was breastfeeding, so she had a lot of time to devote to my cause. My milk didn’t come in for 2 days. In those first days, she didn’t let me panic. She informed me that babies were born pretty much “water logged” and didn’t need much in terms of fluids and nutrients in those first few days. The few drops of super nutritious colostrum the baby receives is actually enough for her little marble-sized stomach. It was nice to have her there to combat the nurse who kept coming in insisting I should give my baby formula because she could tell my boobs weren’t “engorged” yet and I was probably starving my baby. No one wants to starve their brand new baby.

The consultant also prepared me for the moment that the milk would come in, when my boobs would feel like they were going to explode. She let me know that this too, would pass. The pain would probably only last a few days. She was right.

The Lansinoh nipple ointment she gave me was a lifesaver. She also let me know that cracked, even possibly bleeding nipples were normal and that they would eventually toughen up and not make me wince in pain every time my baby fed. She also told me to pump in small spurts and not try to make it a marathon every time. If I had a concern about the volume I was producing, she recommended taking fenugreek capsules – which I did – and which worked like a charm.

This time around, I had nurses who were insisting I wasn’t producing milk fast enough and a pediatrician encouraging me to supplement with formula because I had a “big baby.” Because of the foundation of support I had with my first child, I was able to disregard some advice that may have made my quest to breastfeed harder.

Not everyone can or even wants to breastfeed. The study above shows that it can have some serious health benefits. So if you are a woman that wants to – get educated as much as you can before baby comes so you have the support and advice you need to stick to it. A few people around you reminding you that you aren’t starving your child in those first few days, arming you with some tactics to stick with it will do a world of good.

(photo: javi_indy/ Shutterstock)