WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK - AUGUST 1 – 7
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrating 25 years
I love breast feeding. Truly I do. But that’s now. It was so hard at the beginning – as many friends had warned me it might be. I thought my baby and I would take to it like, well, a baby to a boob. But it wasn’t quite like that. When my newborn finally latched on, she’d stay there for 40, 50, even 60 minutes. So why wasn’t she putting on weight? Over a period of eight weeks I had so many questions for our pediatrician and lactation consultants. I was told she was tongue tied, a ‘snacker’, this that and the other. All the while I was supplementing with formula (against my best wishes) and pumping morning, noon and night in a bid to increase my supply.
What I worked out, during this time of bewilderment, bottle sterilizing and sleep deprivation, was that there was no right answer as to how breastfeeding should work, except that it’s what works for you and your baby. And, that I was not alone in my struggles.
For Wren, my daughter, and I, the uh-huh moment came at 12 weeks. It just started ‘working’. Whether my supply increased, or my sweet little babe had mastered the mechanism, I don’t know. But I was so pleased I’d persevered through tears and frustration and formula feeds, to get to where we are now at six months old.
For many, nursing their little one comes so naturally, with no issues whatsoever. But for others, the statistics tell the story.
An American study showed that while 3 out of 4 mothers started with breastfeeding, only 36 percent of babies were fed from the breast through to six months.
The top reasons women stop is due to worry about the infants’ ability to latch on, concerns over their own milk production, breast pain, and returning to work.
In no way, would I ever judge a mother for breastfeeding, or not. But I do believe that all these reasons could be negated with support and knowledge. I was so grateful that NYU where I gave birth provided ‘Latch Hour’ for the first four weeks after Wren’s birth. I went as often as I could with a long list of questions for the lactation consultants. From this and from sharing with other moms came information.
Support also came from my pediatrician, who gave me the best advice when I was reluctant to introduce formula. ‘Feed your baby’, she said. I did just that, with both formula and pumped breastmilk so I could monitor how much she was getting.
It really does take a village to raise a baby, so find your village. That’s one of the messages put out through World Breastfeeding Week, which is not just about encouraging, protecting and supporting breastfeeding, but raising awareness of nutrition and food security the Western world and in developing communities.
The event is recognized by more than 170 countries and this year focuses on “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.”
The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, with continued breast-feeding alongside solid foods up to at least 12 months of age. Unicef has published articles talking about the benefits from birth to 2 years and beyond.
For me, now that I’ve made it to six months, I’ll move towards 12 and continue breastfeeding for as long as mutually desired by my daughter and I. The connection it provides is tremendously beneficial both on a health and emotional level, not just for her, but for me too.
Colostrum – what’s that?
The first milk or ‘colostrum,’ a sticky, yellow transparent liquid, is crucial for babies. Loaded with antibodies, it acts as a natural vaccine. It builds your little one’s immunity and fights against viruses and infections thanks to a high level of leucocytes (white blood cells). It also prepares your baby’s immature intestine for more mature milk and aids digestion and passing of meconium (their first stool). Rich in vitamins and nutrients including calcium, zinc, Vitamin A, K, B6 and B12, colostrum aids babies growth and development.