Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

It's World Breastfeeding Week and I'm a Lactation Consultant, so we're gonna celebrate with a short blurb of information:
If you are a mom or soon to be mom or one day plan to be a mom:
  • Learn what you can about breastfeeding now, it's never too early.
  • Check out a list of some of the benefits of breastfeeding. Some of the lesser known---decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer for mom, decreased risk of SIDS and lower incidence of obesity.
  • When you find out you're pregnant, line up your support resources. Talk to your friends who have breastfed, attend a support group meeting, and find the lactation professionals in your area. Your pediatrician is good as what s/he does and is a vital part of your health care team, s/he is most likely not, however, an expert on breastfeeding.
If you are a partner, grandma, or other support person:
  • Read up on what a normal breastfeeding relationship looks like--pay particular attention to breastfed baby behavior and diaper output.
  • Do NOT offer to get a bottle of formula when you think there may be a problem.
  • DO offer to call a Lactation Consultant if mom experiences difficulty. You are looking for someone with the initials "IBCLC" after their name.
If you work with moms and babies:
  • For the love of all that is good in this world, accept that for all intents and purposes this is a free country. Accept that the vast majority of mothers do the absolute best they can do with the situation they are given. Share information with them and then back out and let them make their own decisions. Support them in reaching their own goals, not your own.
  • I completely understand the comfort of feeding a baby from a bottle and seeing exactly how much volume they take. There are other ways to be sure a baby is okay. Value a mother's decisions and recognize that "just one bottle of formula" or "just pump and give it in a bottle" can be emotionally heartbreaking to a mother and have serious medical complications for some babies.
  • Always be willing to learn. A LOT of lactation research has come out recently that indicates some of our thinking was pretty radically wrong. The old way may get the job done sometimes, but the new way is likely much easier on mom, baby and health care professional, alike.
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