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Monday, Aug. 23, 2021

MAKING THE DECISION TO BREASTFEED

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August is National Breastfeeding Month

The decision to breastfeed is a big one, as well as a personal one, with many factors to consider. Breastfeeding is a natural process, and research has shown there are many health benefits of breastfeeding for both baby and mom.

Benefits to baby:

• Breastmilk provides the best source of nutrition to babies and supports their growth and development.

• As babies grow and develop, so do their nutritional needs. Breastmilk changes as your baby’s needs change, providing them with the ideal amounts of vitamins and minerals.

• Research has shown that breastfed babies have a lower risk of illnesses and infections like asthma, obesity, diabetes, ear infections, respiratory infections, diarrhea and vomiting.

Benefits to mom:

• Breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin, which has many benefits including calming the mother, helping breastmilk flow, helping the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth.

• Breastfeeding also burns extra calories, helping moms lose weight gained during pregnancy faster.

• Just like breastfed babies have a lower risk of illness, so do breastfeeding moms. Moms who breastfeed have a lower risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), type 2 diabetes, and ovarian cancer and certain types of breast cancer. In additional to providing quality bonding time for mom and baby, breastfeeding can also save families money and time by not having to purchase feeding supplies and prepare bottles.

Breastfeeding Experience

While breastfeeding is a natural process and the feeding method most recommended by medical professionals because it is the best source of nutrients for your baby, it is not always easy or glamourous. Breastfeeding can be hard! It’s a learning experience for both mom and baby, and it might take some time to find what works best for you and your baby. Everyone is different, and challenges can arise early or late when breastfeeding, so it’s important not to compare your experience or struggles to someone else’s.

Talk with your doctor if you have trouble breastfeeding at any point, have a special health concern or situation, or are curious about what to expect when breastfeeding in general. There are many resources available, and experienced professionals can provide additional support if needed. The most important thing is keeping mom and baby healthy.

Common Breastfeeding Woes

• Sore nipples

Many moms say that their nipples feel tender when they first start breastfeeding.

• Low milk supply 

Moms sometimes worry about whether they are making enough milk for baby.

• Cluster feeding and growth spurts

In cluster feedings, your baby feeds very frequently. Growth spurts sometimes cause an increase in feeding.

• Engorgement

Engorgement is when your breasts feel very full and may be painful.

• Mastitis

Mastitis is inflammation of the breast tissue that can sometimes involve an infection resulting in breast pain, swelling, redness or warmth. Appropriate feeding intervals to avoid your breasts from overfilling can prevent this.

• Plugged duct

A plugged duct feels like a tender lump in the breast. It is caused by a milk duct that does not drain properly.

• Fungal infection

Infections can occur on your nipples or in your breast.

• Nursing strike

This is when your baby suddenly refuses to breastfeed, after breastfeeding well for months.

• Breast and nipple size and shape

Women with all shapes and sizes of breasts and nipples can breastfeed, though some adjustments may help.

• Exhaustion

Caring for a newborn can be tiring, and breastfeeding may feel harder when you are exhausted.

• Feeling like you can’t leave your baby

Frequent feedings can leave you feeling like you don’t have any time for yourself.

• Feelings of sadness or depression

These feelings may come with being a new mom, but in extreme cases consult with your provider to rule out postpartum depression.

• Dealing with criticism

Don’t be discouraged by others who may not always support your decision to breastfeed. Every woman’s breastfeeding journey is different, so you may experience some or none of these problems. If you do, just remember that it’s OK to ask for help! With a little time, patience and support, you can overcome breastfeeding challenges and meet your goals.

For more breastfeeding resources and answers to frequently asked questions, visit www.usbreastfeeding.org/faqs.

Breastfeeding and COVID-19 Vaccination

Being a new mom is an exciting time, but one that can also be overwhelmingly full of many questions and first-time experiences. The last 18 months for women who have been pregnant and becoming new moms have been especially difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has presented many new concerns and questions. The CDC reports that pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared with non-pregnant people. The current COVID-19 vaccines available have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing severe illness, and the CDC recommends vaccination for all people 12 years of age and older, including people who are pregnant and breastfeeding.

Early research studies have found COVID-19 antibodies in the breastmilk of people who were vaccinated, which they could pass along to their babies to help protect them. Questions about COVID-19 and getting the vaccine are important to discuss with your doctor.

For more information about CDC recommendations for the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html.

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