Home & Family
Working Through the Challenges of Breastfeeding
5/6/2013 10:43:36 AM

Getting up during the night to feed the baby isn’t always enjoyable, but it’s much easier to breastfeed than to manage the cleaning, sterilization, and filling of the bottles each day; and it’s less expensive. In addition, breastfeeding provides a strong bond between mother and baby.

Breast milk has the unique combination of nutrients needed for each stage of the baby’s growth and it helps the mother’s body return to pre-pregnancy shape.

With all of these benefits, it’s surprising how many women do not breastfeed. Christa O’Neal, RN, certified breastfeeding counselor and childbirth educator at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital says it’s often because they encounter challenges and aren’t sure what to do. "New mothers go through so many emotions after the birth of their baby. They’re tired, excited, and overwhelmed, often all at the same time. They hear so much advice from friends and family and it’s hard to know what’s true.”

A strong support system is one of the best things for a breastfeeding mother. O’Neal educates and assists all mothers delivering at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital who are interested in breastfeeding. She is also a resource after discharge if they have questions or need more assistance. "In addition to the one-on-one assistance, we also have a breastfeeding class in our prenatal education series. That’s beneficial for the moms to get an idea of what breastfeeding will be like and the benefits it will provide to both mom and baby; but there’s really no way to understand it until you actually do it, and then the mom may have more questions and that’s okay. That’s why we’re here.”

The best thing a nursing mom can do is to relax and communicate. "If nursing hurts, let’s talk about how we can change things so it won’t hurt. If nursing doesn’t fit into a practical routine, we can look at other options such as pumping her breast milk for future feedings. If the baby isn’t sleeping well, advice from well-meaning people may cause a new mom to think her milk isn’t nutritious enough,” explains O’Neal. "Some mothers think that breastfeeding is going to be difficult and they must endure frustration for six weeks before it gets better. In reality, there are a lot of problems that can be easily solved.”

Fatigue is one of the most common challenges for a breastfeeding new mom. Most find a solution in the early days after delivery by viewing breastfeeding time as break time. "Find a comfortable chair, put your feet up, and enjoy a nutritious snack or a book,” suggests O’Neal.

Newborns tend to nurse often, but as the weeks pass, the baby will fall into a comfortable routine, making things easier. About this time, moms get more comfortable with the technique and are able to integrate breastfeeding into a normal schedule.

"The mechanics of breastfeeding are worth figuring out so that the baby and the mother can gain the benefits,” O’Neal says.

The benefits to the baby are numerous, and include:

  • A strengthened immune system thanks to antibodies passed from the mother
  • A reduced likelihood of ear infections
  • Fewer cavities later in life
  • Better overall health throughout life, including lower blood pressure and lower risk of heart disease

Breastfeeding also does a mother’s body good, including:

  • Losing weight after the pregnancy because nursing burns calories, between 200 and 500 per day
  • The return of the uterus to it’s pre-pregnancy size more quickly
  • Less likely to develop osteoporosis, diabetes and breast cancer later in life
  • Decreases risk of female cancers such as breast, uterine, and ovarian

"Because there are so many benefits, I encourage women to give breastfeeding a try, knowing that we’re here to support them and answer any questions they may have,” says O’Neal. "In previous generations, women were more accessible to each other and the ‘village mentality’ provided a strong support system as women relied on each other for encouragement, answers and strength. Today, we’re still here for each other but it takes a little more effort to seek out solutions.”

Posted by: Christine Fisher | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Parenting

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