Breastfeeding: The Joyful Ups and Frustrating Downs
Breastfeeding can be a great experience for both mom and baby, but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard work that comes with a set of big difficulties.
If you are a new mom or a mom with several children, you probably already know how up and down, complicated and wonderful parenthood can be. Breastfeeding also has its own highs and struggles. Here are some of both the ups and downs of breastfeeding and how to find support.
The Up: Your Baby Always Gets a Perfect Meal
Your body creates the perfect food for your baby to be able to develop during those early months of life. The milk you have is full of nutrients that give your baby the perfect food and even changes as your baby’s needs change.
In addition to breastmilk supplying your little one with proper nutrients, it’s also loaded with antibodies that protect your baby from infections. In addition to protection from illnesses such as a cold, your breast milk can help lower the risk of leukemia, asthma, obesity, type 2 diabetes, ear infections, eczema, diarrhea and necrotizing enterocolitis.
If you have any questions about your baby’s early development or are worried about your baby getting enough milk, contact your physician or baby's pediatrician.
The Down: The Stress Around Milk Supply and Poor Latching
Some of the most common worries moms have about breastfeeding concern milk supply and proper latching. As your baby develops, so will how they feed and how much milk you produce. At six weeks to two months your breasts may no longer feel as full as they once did and feedings may last for a shorter period of time. Most likely this means your baby is getting better at feeding!
Growth spurts can happen at any time and may also make you worried that your supply is too low. This is a time when you can follow your baby’s lead.
Ensuring your baby gets a good latch will help him/her get enough milk, but it will also make it more comfortable for you. Getting your baby to feed correctly may take some trial and error. If you have sore nipples, your baby is having trouble getting enough of your breast in his/her mouth or even if you’re just concerned it’s not correct, talk to a lactation consultant. They are there to make sure this experience becomes one that’s enjoyable for both of you.
The High: Mom Gets a Health Boost
Your baby gets a number of benefits from breastmilk, but you can also get some great benefits yourself. Breastfeeding helps moms heal after giving birth. Moms can also have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, certain types of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Some women also see a jumpstart in their efforts to lose postpartum weight. You secrete 450-500 calories into breastmilk per day. It’s good to keep this in mind while you adjust your diet to make sure you’re still getting eating enough for the both of you!
The Low: Pumping Reminders on Your Phone
Breastfeeding is a large time commitment. No matter how happy you are to give this gift to your baby, it can still feel like a chore some days. It can be especially challenging when it’s almost time for you to return to work. Prepare for this transition by introducing pumping and bottle feeding into the routine before you have to go back to work.
Your baby should be ready to drink from a bottle after a month. Practice your pumping and give your baby a bottle instead of your breast at some feedings. You may also want to build up a supply of breast milk. Having a supply ready can let you relax when something unexpected happens.
See our lactation specialist about pumping and storing breastmilk tips. You can also find information here: https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/pumping-and-storing-breastmilk
The High: Bonding Time
Skin-to-skin contact between a mom and baby is highly encouraged and could be initiated right after birth. This type of bonding will continue as you hold your baby close while breastfeeding. Your baby will find comfort in your presence, his/her will have lower stress and you’ll both find joy in this closeness.
Also find ways to include your partner during this special time.
The Low: Outside Opinions and Accommodation
Opinions are shared everywhere, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the law. Breastfeeding in public comes with protection from the law. You are legally allowed to breastfeed your child in any public space. However, even knowing this law protects you and you know you are doing a beautiful, natural thing by feeding your child, you may still have to endure the opinions of those that do not approve. You never have to respond to anyone who comments negatively about breastfeeding.
Find support from other moms in the area and know that you do have support.
On the flip side, many moms get criticized for not breastfeeding their children. We understand that there are a number of reasons a mom may choose to not breastfeed. Know we are not here to judge you, but to help ensure you and your baby are as healthy as possible!
For more information on your rights in the workplace, click here: https://www.womenshealth.gov/supporting-nursing-moms-work/what-law-says-about-breastfeeding-and-work/what-breastfeeding-employees/#1
Bailey Medical Center offers breastfeeding classes. To register, visit this page.