The Art of Breastfeeding: Knowing Yourself and Your Baby

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Breastfeeding can present challenges for some new mothers. But the experts at Renown’s Lactation Connection are here to help mothers and babies develop a fulfilling, lasting breastfeeding experience.breastfeeding

By Robin Hollen, RN, IBCLC

As long as women have been giving birth, they’ve been breastfeeding. This natural, biological art has been passed down from mother to mother over centuries. 

In the past, women had community support many mothers don’t have today — extended family and friends living in close proximity to guide them through the nursing process. Breastfeeding was the primary option for feeding and nourishing babies — it was a matter of survival. If breastfeeding was problematic, women depended on other mothers to nurse their newborns. This practice was considered natural and normal.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months provides the best nutrition for newborns. Breast milk benefits babies by:

  • Promoting emotional and physical well-being
  • Providing all of the nutrients and immunities a baby needs for up to six months
  • Providing a natural source of nourishment that’s easy to digest
  • Improving cardiovascular health
  • Lowering rates of obesity, respiratory infections, disease and asthma

Mothers benefit from breastfeeding, too. Nursing reduces stress levels and lowers risk of ovarian and breast cancers, postpartum depression and type 2 diabetes. Mothers experience less bleeding and increased weight loss. And, of course, nursing strengthens the bond between mother and baby.

Formula and Its Impact on Breastfeeding

Although formula was invented in 1860, it didn’t gain widespread popularity until the 1940s during World War II. Traditionally homemakers, women entered the workforce, performing jobs normally relegated to men who were serving in the military. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of women working since that time has quadrupled.

Advertising has also encouraged the widespread use of formula. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, research firm Euromonitor estimates the baby formula market in the U.S. is a $5 billion industry.

Breastfeeding Support Equals Greater Success

Breastfeeding saw a resurgence in the early 1960s, and despite the ubiquity of formula, the nursing trend has continued to grow. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card, 79 percent of babies born in the U.S. are breastfed initially as of 2011.

Nursing or opting for formula is a personal choice and every mother must do what she feels is right for her situation. In today’s society, women can find breastfeeding support in their partner and among qualified healthcare professionals. According to the Journal of Perinatal Education as reported by the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI), “A recurring factor that influences a woman’s decision to breastfeed is the presence of a support system, whether it is personal or professional.”

Know Your Baby, Nourish Your Baby

Take the time to get to know your baby. Initially every sign from your baby is a cue to eat, but this changes as babies grow. You’ll learn to recognize the cues, and with assistance from a board-certified lactation consultant, you can determine when and how much your baby should eat. A consultant can also advise you about co-sleeping with your baby, the inherent benefits and if that option is right for you.

Every mother has the right to choose how she will nourish her baby. But the experts at Renown’s Lactation Connection believe in cases where new mothers struggle, there’s a solution to make nursing possible. Breastfeeding is not black and white: As an art, it is has many shades of gray. And they’re here to provide the guidance, information and support you need to breastfeed successfully.

For more information contact Renown’s Lactation Connection Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 775-982-5210.

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