Wondering what’s true and what’s not about breastfeeding? Look to the facts when it comes to this important way to nourish your baby.
[3 MIN READ]
It’s World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated on August 1-7 every year. This global campaign was created to raise awareness and galvanize action on themes related to breastfeeding such as healthcare, women and work, community support, education and human rights. It’s all about helping mothers understand how breastfeeding can help give their babies the healthiest start in life.
At Providence, we salute all moms and parents who have chosen to breastfeed. For all your efforts to give your child a great start in life — including nursing an adopted infant or overcoming health problems to nurse — we applaud you.
Over the years, many studies have shown that breastfeeding offers a range of health benefits for you and your baby. If you’re a new mom thinking about breastfeeding but are wondering what to expect, here are five truths that may help you decide.
Truth #1: Breastfeeding can be tough, but it’s worth it
At first, as your baby is learning to latch, it can be painful for you. Then there are the round-the-clock feedings: Your body feels worn out and you’re sleep-deprived. But take heart! The early stages may be tough, but as your milk supply evens out and you and your baby find the right feeding positions and a good rhythm, things will get better.
Truth #2: Mothers’ bodies are made to start out breastfeeding
The myth that most babies in the U.S. are fed formula is just that: a myth. A 2018 report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated that among infants born in 2015 in the U.S., 83% started out breastfeeding and more than half were still breastfeeding at six months. These numbers show that many mothers start out wanting to breastfeed. That’s not surprising, since decades of research show that mother’s milk is a low-cost, healthy choice for babies.
Truth #3: Breastmilk is packed with nutrients for your baby
When it comes to nutrients and vitamins, your breastmilk is custom-made for your baby. Not only that, there are certain antibodies that help keep your baby from getting sick — and they can only be passed from you to your baby through breastfeeding. These antibodies will give them the strength they need as they venture out into the world (with all those germs!).
Truth #4: Breast size doesn’t affect breastfeeding
Whether a woman’s breasts are large or small doesn’t affect how much milk she makes. Other factors that usually don’t make a difference when it comes to producing milk: flat or inverted nipples, large areolas (the area around the nipple) and breast-reduction surgery. Find an expert resource that can help you with the best feeding position and offer tools or aids that can help your baby achieve a strong latch.
Truth #5: You’ll make enough milk
Have you ever seen a hazelnut? Picture it and realize that a newborn’s stomach is about the same size! Mothers almost always make enough milk to feed their babies — it’s one of Mother Nature’s gift to moms. You can boost your milk supply by breastfeeding on a schedule, staying hydrated and eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbs.
The most important truth of all
You’re not alone when it comes to getting support for breastfeeding. Providence and Swedish celebrate your desire to feed your baby by providing compassionate, safe, reliable help. For instance, Swedish has postpartum doulas who can guide you through breastfeeding and chestfeeding, along with bottle feeding, pumping or both. Then there’s Kodiak KINDNESS, which is a Providence community benefit program that helps new mothers nourish their newborns through personal coaching.
Heather Preece, a registered dietician and lactation consultant, is the director of Kodiak. In a brief yet moving podcast, she talks about the experience she had with Jackie Beck, the mother of a newly adopted baby boy, and the priceless bond breastfeeding can create.
Heather describes how Jackie nursed her 4-day-old adopted baby for the first time. She wanted to connect with her baby in a way that only mothers can. “We got a bottle of formula, and we put a little feeding tube on the end of it and taped it alongside Jackie’s breast.” Heather says that moment was the highlight of her career. “[It was] powerful, tangible evidence of the importance of a newborn physically bonding with his mom.”
While we salute moms who choose to breastfeed their babies, we also remember the most important truth of all: Taking time to bond with your child while nursing, whether using bottle or breast, is an experience as nourishing for your baby’s soul as it is for your baby’s body.
Heather puts it well, “It’s really more important how we feed our babies and not what we feed our babies.” Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Just know that you deserve support and encouragement, no matter what you decide.
Looking for more information about breastfeeding? Talk with your doctor about resources. You can find a Providence doctor by using our provider directory. Or, you can search for a primary care doctor in your area.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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