Breastfeeding Awareness

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month: Live Your Breast Life

As the summer ends, and a baby boom begins, while many focus on the delivery of these babies, I thought it pertinent to discuss some post-delivery considerations. Specifically, what is that baby gonna EAT?
There are some common misconceptions about breastfeeding that I want to address and I will also offer tips for success.
Myth #1: Breastfeeding will change how your breasts look. Newsflash: Pregnancy does that, sis. Your nipples get bigger. Your milk ducts change the architecture of the breasts. Once you go preg, they never go back. You might as well use them.
Myth #2: The baby is still hungry before your milk comes in. Well, the volume of colostrum, which is the stuff your breasts make for the baby for the days prior to milk, is much less than milk. It is high in calories though. It is also high in antibodies and significantly reduces infection rates in babies. If the baby seems hungry and wants to suck, let that baby suck. The demand created by nipple stimulation is good for milk production when it does start. Let the pediatrician tell you if the baby has lost enough weight to need Formula to supplement.
Myth #3: If the baby loses weight, you need to give the baby formula. False. All babies lose weight after birth. The question is how much. That’s where the pediatrician comes in.
Myth #4: If the baby doesn’t latch right away, they won’t be able to. This baby is just as new to this as you are. It could take days for a baby to really learn how to latch. Keep trying.
Myth #5: If you can’t breastfeed for whatever reason, then you are a bad mother. Nah, sis. There is so much more to the joys of motherhood. You are providing this baby protection, support, and love. If milk is not one of your offerings, let it go, and turn your attention to the things you DO provide. I have seen so many women enter into postpartum depression because of significant breastfeeding challenges. After you’ve done all you can, you’re still mama. Let it go.
On to my tips for success:
1. Fuel up: Eat your food, healthy choices if you can. Drink your water, water, water, and more water. You are providing a life source. You need the building blocks.
2. Persist: Especially in the beginning, it is tiresome, but when that baby wants to latch, put the baby on. 9 times out of 10, you’ll find your rhythm.
3. If you feel engorged, pump: Some babies will suck you dry, while others will leave milk behind. In the first 1-2 weeks, you make more milk sometimes than your baby needs. If you let it build up, you are at risk for developing mastitis, a breast infection. Pump once or twice daily or as needed to just zero out.
4. Know your goal: The American Pediatric Association recommends at least 6 months of breastfeeding/pumping, and ideally 1 year. Do your best. If you don’t quite make your goal, know that anything that you provided your baby is better than nothing.
5. Know when enough is enough: When breastfeeding starts to affect your emotional state, make sure that you can allow yourself to let it go. When lactation consultant and pediatrician alike have helped you to their best efforts, you need to be okay with being done. Talk to your obstetrician for any final tips. Your OB can also help you to wean safely without developing mastitis.
If you are having a baby or know someone who is, share this with them. Encourage them to live their Breast life, but also understand that the journey is hard. They will need your support, even if it is just encouragement or lending a listening ear. Breast life isn’t easy, but if it works,  it’s worth it.
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