More women than ever are making the choice to nurse their infants. They know how important it is for the baby’s growth and development. Breastfeeding also promotes immunity from many diseases.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control said that three out of four moms choose to breastfeed initially. The rate drops to less than 50% at six months, and 25% after one year. This is a huge improvement from 20 years ago.
Ready to give it a try? Good! Here’s what you need to know – and here’s how a few other busy moms found the time for breastfeeding.
Prepare to Succeed
Despite best intentions, not all women will be able to breastfeed. But, like anything else that’s new, you’ll do better if you set about learning “how to” from experts and reach out for support when needed.
You wouldn’t take a chair lift to the top of the mountain and expect to slalom down like a pro your first time on skis. It’s the same with breastfeeding. Yes, it’s natural… when you know how! And as with all new physical activities, expect to be uncomfortable and sore when you start, but with practice and technique, it gets easier and more rewarding.
Kathy Abbott, a certified lactation consultant who blogs about breastfeeding strategies for the busy mom, notes that “most first-time moms spend more time educating themselves about childbirth (a one day event) than they do about breastfeeding, even if they plan to breastfeed for a year.”
It’s a great point. Because even though the intention is there, most women admit they are not prepared properly to make it through that first crucial year. And since they’re not prepared, or since they’ve not emphasized their wishes at the hospital, problems pop up.
Breast milk is considered “liquid gold.” It provides the best possible nutrition for the newborn. However, hospitals have historically whisked babies away and returned them to mom with bellies of formula. At hospital checkout, new moms would be handed a shopping bag full of infant formula and coupons.
But today, states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts have a statewide ban on formula giveaways. New York City has even launched “Latch On NYC,” a hospital-based initiative to support a mom’s decision to breastfeed.
Holly Madison is a businesswoman, celebrity and first-time mom who was prepared to succeed with breastfeeding. But she admits it proved surprising difficult at first. Holly said the hospital lactation specialist would appear at her bedside when she was just too tired to really take advantage of the visit.
Luckily, Holly soaked up enough advice to feel “pretty well educated” by the time her baby was born. The results have been outstanding.
“My baby is healthy and alert! I’ve been eating healthfully throughout my pregnancy and breastfeeding. I know I’m helping to give her the best start possible!” raves Holly.
Tina Lloyd, the Social Media Manager here at eDiets, says that with baby boy #2, she was determined to breast-feed exclusively.
She highly recommends that first-time mommies, while still in the hospital, schedule a consultation with a lactation consultant. Most hospitals offer such services for free.
Ten years ago a CDC survey of attitudes toward breastfeeding found that more than half the adult participants said they were uncomfortable when a woman breastfed in public. Fast forward to 2013, and 49 of 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have laws protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed her baby in public.
Sadly, it’s often those people closest to you that can create barriers. It’s important to make your decision based on what’s best for you and your baby.
Tina admits that neither her mother nor grandmother breast-fed their children and both women were nervous that she wasn’t going to be able to produce enough milk to nurse her child. But, Tina forged on and made it work for her and her boys. She terms her personal experience “mostly positive.” Tina tells new moms, “If you can give your baby any breast milk those first few weeks, you have given your baby an amazing start!”
Holly, meanwhile, says that she has to strategize her days to fit in breastfeeding. But despite travel, appearances, and photo shoots, she’s been successful at finding time for breast feeding
Her advice for new moms: “Definitely take your breast pump with you and work with your boss to have some private time during breaks to pump. I used to pride myself on being such a pro at photo shoots that the photographers would get everything they needed by the time lunch rolled around. But these days I take breaks to feed the baby.”
And her baby, Rainbow, is thriving. “I know I’m helping to give her the best start possible!” says Holly.
NOTE: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that new moms exclusively breast-feed infants for six months. They should also give the baby any doctor-recommended supplements to ensure that the child gets the vital vitamins and minerals not found in high quantities in breast milk. After that, women should continue to breast-feed their baby until the child’s first birthday. It’s also important for the child to get other foods as they grow. Breast-feeding has been linked to a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of childhood obesity and certain childhood infections.