A difficult decision to make during pregnancy is whether or not you will choose to breastfeed your newborn. Countless medical researchers and experts including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively for at least the first six months of a baby’s life because of the well-documented health benefits to mom and baby. In addition, breastfeeding can provide a multitude of additional benefits to mothers, such as feelings of happiness and fulfillment due to the physical and emotional connection they experience with their children.
Deciding to Breastfeed
Despite the physical and emotional benefits, breastfeeding can also bring potential obstacles. it is absolutely normal to have self-doubts or even fail at the first few attempts. An example of a common obstacle while nursing is breast engorgement, which is congestion of the blood vessels that causes pain and swelling in the breast. Warnings of weariness, anxiety or discomfort can make breastfeeding seem like a daunting task, but the key is not to be afraid to explore the various options available to achieve the most rewarding nursing experience possible. From a biological perspective, breastfeeding is a universal experience for women across the globe.
Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria, and provides the ideal mix of vitamins, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Babies who are solely breastfed are also known to have fewer hospitalizations and trips to the doctor. For the mother, breastfeeding can provide a wide range of physical and health benefits, including the reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and postpartum depression.
Additionally, breastfeeding helps the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size and milk production burns about 300 to 500 calories a day, so nursing mothers tend to have an easier time losing weight after pregnancy.
Preparation & Education
To educate yourself on whether breastfeeding is right for you or to address existing complications, contact your physician, pediatrician or OB-GYN for recommendations on different resources. An immensely valuable, yet underutilized resource is the services a lactation consultant can provide. These health professionals are available to answer all of your questions about breastfeeding, assist you in finding the best methods for you and your baby, and can even come out to your home to help ensure you have a smooth experience.
Lactation consultants have long been a fierce advocate for the health benefits of breastfeeding and helping new mothers use various milk expression techniques to overcome slow or inadequate flow issues. One reason so many new mothers struggle with milk expression is that they receive little, if any, instruction while in the hospital. Once women return home or have to go back to work or school, between juggling their schedules and finding time to pump, there is no one qualified to help them when problems arise. There are a number of organizations that can help provide advice and refer you to your nearest lactation consultant.
Tools to Succeed
Innovation in the world of breastfeeding is rapidly progressing so more mothers can feel empowered to nurse and experience the various perks to them and their children. Several kinds of advanced technology are becoming available to focus on significant elements in nursing, such as prolonged duration of breastfeeding, real data on milk supply, and increased user-friendly features on breast pumps.
As a faithful reader of our blog, you may already know that we developed Nurture by Imalac, a breast pump accessory that makes a pump work better. By providing gentle, hands-free massage, it reduces pump time and increases milk output. The features of Nurture have been designed to enable modern mothers to meet and exceed their breastfeeding goals.
Other innovations that are coming to market are providing women with information on fertility, pregnancy, and their personal health. Breastfeeding can be a frustrating experience if you do not have the proper support of your spouse, family and friends. However, armed with a few tools, your experience of being a new mother will make you more confident and comfortable in your own skin.
The most important component of nursing is to listen to your body’s signals and seek help if needed. Do not feel pressured to keep up a strict feeding schedule unless you are comfortable, well-informed, and have practiced the most efficient techniques for expressing your best. As a reminder, breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states and the law is on your side. Breastfeeding is your choice, determined by a timeline that ultimately comes down to you and your baby’s personal preferences and dedication.
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