Saturday, August 9, 2008

National Breastfeeding Month


For those who weren't already aware: August is the official National Breastfeeding Month and this first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week. This is my 5th August to be a breastfeeding mommy. It's been a wonderful ride! Wheeeeee!

In the early 70s, breastfeeding was touted as old-fashioned, unclassy and downright "icky." Doctors, at that time, felt that formula was surely best. But some moms knew, deep in their hearts, that nature knew best. It was an uphill battle for this growing group of moms, but it wasn't long before the scientific studies began pouring in proving, without a doubt, that exclusive breastfeeding was far superior to any man-made substance created for infants.

I am so happy that my mom had the strength and courage to fight for her right to breastfeed us when we were babies. When it was suggested that she go to the bathroom to nurse (during church, no less) she would agree only if all of the bottle fed babies were also required to be fed by moms sitting on the toilet. To hear this and other stories make my heart swell with pride and my eyes well up with tears. Why, you ask? Because her determination paved the way for my rather easy and fulfilling breastfeeding days. Even when I had my first baby and hospital staff surrounded me pushing and pulling on my breasts, moving my baby this way and that, and even threatening to start us on formula if my milk didn't let down immediately--it was my mom who had the patience, the confidence, and the wisdom to reassure me that all would be well just as soon as we were home. And...it was.

I've breastfed through engorgement as well as semi-dry periods (pregnancy). I've had newborn blisters, experienced the uncomfortable teething days, pumped bottles full of milk for days I had to be away and tandem nursed two at once. I've co-slept to continue feeding through the nights and during the days I've enjoyed baby-wearing my children in slings--allowing me to nurse anywhere in public without batting an eye. I've discreetly breastfed at the library, the swimming pool, the grocery store, in an elementary classroom...anywhere that my baby is hungry, (s)he will be fed.

I am extremely grateful to my parents and husband for taking so many lovely, intimate photos of my babies snuggling peacefully at my breast. I cherish these days immensely. I can't, for the life of me, imagine ever nourishing my babies any other way.

Dangers of not Breastfeeding (quoted from womenshealth.gov)

1. Recent studies show that babies who are not exclusively breastfed for 6 months are more likely to develop a wide range of infectious diseases including ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illnesses and have more hospitalizations. Also, infants who are not breastfed have a 21% higher postneonatal infant mortality rate in the U.S.
2. Some studies suggest that infants who are not breastfed have higher rates of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the first year of life, and higher rates of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, overweight and obesity, high cholesterol and asthma. More research in these areas is needed (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2005).
3. Babies who are not breastfed are sick more often and have more doctor's visits.
4. Also, when you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. Unlike human milk straight from the breast, infant formula has a chance of being contaminated.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

1. Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. A mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find it easier to digest breast milk than they do formula.
2. As a result, breastfed infants grow exactly the way they should. They tend to gain less unnecessary weight and to be leaner. This may result in being less overweight later in life.
3. Premature babies do better when breastfed compared to premature babies who are fed formula.
4. Breastfed babies score slightly higher on IQ tests, especially babies who were born pre-maturely.
5. Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose the pounds of pregnancy. It also helps the uterus to get back to its original size and lessens any bleeding a woman may have after giving birth.
6. Breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding (no supplementing with formula), delays the return of normal ovulation and menstrual cycles. (However, you should still talk with your doctor or nurse about birth control choices.)
7. Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and possibly the risk of hip fractures and osteoporosis after menopause.
8. Breastfeeding makes your life easier. It saves time and money. You do not have to purchase, measure, and mix formula. There are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night!
9. A mother can give her baby immediate satisfaction by providing her breast milk when her baby is hungry.
10. Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby.
11. Breastfeeding can help a mother to bond with her baby. Physical contact is important to newborns and can help them feel more secure, warm and comforted.
12. Breastfeeding mothers may have increased self-confidence and feelings of closeness and bonding with their infants.
13. Breastfeeding saves on health care costs. Total medical care costs for the nation are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed infants since breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.
14. Breastfeeding contributes to a more productive workforce. Breastfeeding mothers miss less work, as their infants are sick less often. Employer medical costs also are lower and employee productivity is higher.
15. Breastfeeding is better for our environment because there is less trash and plastic waste compared to that produced by formula cans and bottle supplies.

Be looking for more breastfeeding information this month!

Other sources and websites for further reading:
La Leche League: http://www.llli.org/nb.html
Kelly Mom Breastfeeding Site: http://www.kellymom.com/
US Dept of Heath and Human Services http://www.womenshealth.gov/Breastfeeding/Breastfeeding.pdf

1 ♥ thoughtful comments ♥:

Mom said...

That is sweet, Shannon. Love you and appreciate the precious sentiments expressed.

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