Breastfeeding is often a huge part of a woman’s metamorphosis into motherhood. Even some of the most prepared, check-list driven women have no idea what to really expect from their breastfeeding journey.
One of Tufts Medical Center’s board certified lactation consultants, Lisa Enger, RN, IBCLC talks us through all there is to know about breastfeeding; the challenges a new mom should be ready to face, and the unique powers of breastmilk that make it all worth it.
Why should I plan to breastfeed?
Breastfeeding can be challenging for many new moms during the first four – six weeks post-delivery as both mom and baby are learning new skills. Not all moms choose to breastfeed and whatever decision you make for yourself and your child is the right one, but it is worth learning and thinking about while you are pregnant. Despite some challenges, the benefits of breastfeeding are rewarding for both mother and baby.
Breastmilk is nutrient dense
Breast milk is like medicine for baby and mom. It is chock full of white blood cells which work to protect baby from harmful germs and diseases that he or she is exposed to.
It is cost-effective and convenient
There is the obvious consideration that formula costs so much more than your own (free!) breastmilk. You won’t have to worry about washing and sanitizing bottles and nipples on the daily. Finally – you can forget about packing bottles, formula and thermos’ full of warm water whenever you leave the house.
Risks of future health issues go down
Research shows, babies have lower risks of:
Lower respiratory infections
Type 2 diabetes
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
It’s not for everyone
With so many positive reasons to choose to breastfeed, one might wonder why not all women choose to feed their babies this way. Breastfeeding is complicated because there are so many things that can go wrong; especially for a new mom who didn’t see it coming.
The “breast is best” movement has brought more awareness and acceptance to breastfeeding, which was previously stigmatized. However, this phrase can also make a new mom feel like a failure if she is unable to breastfeed. Complications for mother or baby after delivery sometimes make breastfeeding impossible to initiate.
Challenges a woman could face on her breastfeeding journey include:
Sore, cracked nipples
Flat, inverted or very large nipples
Low supply or over supply of milk
Strong let-down reflex
Breast infection (mastitis, yeast infection, etc)
Changes in mental health
Mothers should never feel guilty if they are unable to make a breastfeeding relationship work. A full, happy and healthy baby is the end goal.
It takes a village
Many new moms put too much pressure on themselves when they are learning how to breastfeed. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. It can be difficult to find a support system in today’s society, which is why Tufts Medical Center opened a Baby Café.
The Baby Café offers a breastfeeding support group in a safe and comfortable environment for pregnant and breastfeeding families every Thursday from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Our expert team of lactation consultants is available onsite to answer breastfeeding questions, check baby’s weight and provide pre and post-natal education.