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Is Breastfeeding for You?

Although medical views on breastfeeding tend to change like trends over the years, a new mom simply has to weigh pro against con in deciding if breastfeeding is the right choice for herself, her family and her new baby. Every mom and every situation is different. In this article, we’ll put together some thoughts that might assist in making such a decision, but remember, it’s very personal and you shouldn’t let anyone influence you to do something you really don’t feel is right for you. An unhappy breastfeeding mom is soon bound to find the reason why breastfeeding just isn’t possible for her, and there can be a lot of guilt attached to that kind of negative decision making. So ultimately, when people are putting pressure on you one way or another, try to gently remind them that you’ve weighed all the facts about breastfeeding and have decided the best option for you.

A few positive benefits of breastfeeding your baby:

1.) It’s medically agreed that the fluid colostrum, secreted from the post-partem breast before the milk comes in is a high-density brain food for baby which builds immunities naturally. Its typical during this time for older generations, extended family and even some doctors to tell the new mother that she’s not producing enough milk to feed her baby and to advise bottle/formula feeding. They often attribute every little whimper from the newborn as a cry for being hungry. This is very worrisome for a sometimes anxious new mom and most often, it’s simply not true. The fact is, this status of the breast providing little or not so noticeable quantities of clear fluid during nursing can safely remain for several days. It is the act of sucking on the breast that causes the milk to come. A relaxed you and your baby will make it happen with a little persistence. Meanwhile, you can rest assured your baby is being fed a nourishment that he/she’ll get only once in a lifetime.

2.) No muss, little fuss. No heating, washing, or carrying bottles. No measuring and mixing formulas. No watching and worrying about ounces taken in by baby. No accidentally too hot or too cold temperatures of the formula. When your baby is hungry, all you have to do is think of her/him and your milk will come down the breast, ready to feed. Perfect amount, perfect temperature. No danger of bottle tooth decay. No high fat cow’s milk, no allergic reactions, no lactate or soy intolerances, all of which can contribute later to child obesity and complicate other illnesses. Your breastmilk is perfectly designed for your baby, will change as your baby’s needs change, adding nutrients, having thirst quenching qualities or hunger satisfying qualities as needed. In addition, breastfeeding is all natural, and waste-free, therefore a completely environmentally friendly process.

3.) The perfect food provided by breastfeeding also produces less smelly diapers. Yes, soiled diapers are unpleasant when compared to flowers, but comparing formula fed and breastfeed babies’ dirty diapers, the smell of breastfed babies excrections, both diapers and spit up residue are significantly less offensive to the nose than that of formula fed babies. Breastmilk contains the exact right nutrients for your baby. Unlike any other food on earth, breastmilk guards the newborn against stomach bacteria, aids in digestion and allows for fulfillment of your baby’s potential in optimal physical and mental development. Babies who are breastfed have been shown to have higher IQs than formula fed babies. Breastfed babies also have the emotional advantage of skin-to-skin contact with mother, which enhances bonding and is not the usual practice of bottle fed babies.

4.) Breastfeeding mom’s recuperate from childbirth faster. Carrying your baby to term and the process of giving birth has likely left your body retaining fluid, and the uterus stretched out. Don’t be alarmed at the menstral like flow and cramps you’ll experience during the first couple of weeks while you breastfeed. The very act of breastfeeding causes the repeated release of a chemical in your body called oxytocin, which causes the uterus to contract back to its pre-pregnancy size and prevents hemorraging in the first 48 hours after giving birth. Sustained and exclusive breastfeeding is also an effective birth control method.

Milk production can take up to 500 calories a day, which assists new moms in more rapid and steady weight loss than formula feeding moms. Women who breastfeed their children are at significantly less risk for breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, as are, amazingly enough, their breastfed children.

Negative aspects of breastfeeding your baby and some solutions:

1.) There is an initial period of time when your nipples can be very tender and sometimes even painful. As your baby’s sucking toughens up your nipples, you may also find that your nipples actually crack and bleed. Just as your nipples begin to heal, its time for the next feeding and these wounds can be re-opened and painful. This is a natural process and you don’t need to worry about baby getting a little bit of blood during nursing sessions as your nipples heal. Remember, not long before this, you shared a bloodstream. But this is a very challenging time for mother as she may be insecure about breastfeeding and now have pain during the process. On the other hand, this is a short lived problem for mothers who really want to breastfeed, so hang in there if it happens to you. The nipples will heal and the breastmilk will aid in this. The baby will learn how to suck with your helpful free hand guiding the nipple toward proper positioning, and breastfeeding will soon be a joy for moms who can withstand this temporary difficultly. Most hospitals offer nursing assistance or some sort of counselling to get you started in helping baby suckle properly. There are also many breastfeeding manuals you can read for perfecting this art.

2.) For breastfeeding moms, dads may feel a little left out of the process. Dad will not be able to enjoy the strong and effortless bonding that occurs during feeding time. So, breastfed baby’s daddy will need to make an extra effort to find other ways to bond with newborn. Daddy can lay quietly next to breastfeeding baby and mom, stroking and encouraging them both. Daddy can take baby immediately after baby is finished feeding, to burp, interact and cuddle or play. For the working mom who uses a breast pump and saves her milk for supplemental bottle use (recommended only for older babies, not newborns learning how to breastfeed), Daddy can feed baby this ultra-healthy substance himself. Remember, quite often breastfeeding itself takes place in the life of a baby and a family for only a matter of months. Soon, baby will be taking solids as well, which Daddy can provide.

3.) Mom must take all the night time feeding responsibility, this is true. But Daddy can pitch in during these early months by taking the baby from sleepy mom after the feeding and rocking, diapering or comforting as needed. Here’s a good place to remind all those conscientious parents who are advised never to bring baby to the spousal bed. Yet, there is no easier way to cope with sleep depravation than to bring the infant to the family bed, nuzzle him to the breast and go blissfully back to sleep. Watchful Dad can then enjoy the pleasure of being close during this process or take fulfilled baby back to the crib, making night feedings a family effort. Don’t be shy. Don’t leave this all up to Mom. This is Daddy’s lovely baby too and no one is more creative than a loving, attentive Daddy, singling out the needs of his new baby and his breastfeeding wife.

4.) Restriction of certain foods and medicines must be taken into account when breastfeeding. While foods like peanut butter and broccholi may cause gassiness in babies and for some breastfeeding mom’s should be avoided, for other breastfeeding mothers, these foods may cause no problems for baby. Substances like caffiene and alcohol can be hidden in even some over the counter medications so be mindful, these are not good for baby. Certain foods can also alter the taste of the breastmilk and may cause the baby to fuss, so breastfeeding mom’s should remain sensitive to diet at all times while breastfeeding. In addition, of course all medicines and alcohol will have the potential to penetrate into the breastmilk, so moms who have to take certain medicines for their own health should always consult their physicians about how this will effect a decision to breastfeed.

Some parents may be concerned that breastfeeding can become too restrictive in terms of being able to leave their baby with relatives or sitters to get out for a night or go back to work. Consider breast pump options as a possible solution when you are ready to become more independent of the exclusive breastfeeding. Carefully and patiently introduce bottles containing the familiar ‘breast food of health’ can give mom more freedom to get away, especially when baby is getting older.

In conclusion, there are certainly many other factors that weigh in on making this decision for you and your baby. It’s important to do your own research, know the facts and myths of breastfeeding before you take mis-informed advice out of guilt or obligation. Everyone will offer an opinion, but in the end, its you and your family that will carry out and live with the decision whether or not to breastfeed, so make it a comfortable one that you and your spouse have seriously contemplated and feel sure its the right choice for you.

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