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Mastering Nursing in the Modern Day

For nearly all infants, breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition and immunologic protection, and it provides scientifically proven health benefits to mothers as well. And yet within only three months after giving birth, more than two-thirds of breastfeeding mothers have already begun using formula. By six months postpartum, more than half of mothers have given up on breastfeeding. Don’t be a statistic.

Don’t let a lack of knowledge stand between you and your baby

Skills in how to hold and position a baby at the breast, how to achieve an effective latch, and other breastfeeding techniques frequently need to be taught. Breastfeeding is easy, when challenges are met with guidance and adequate support.  Lactation consultants and La Leche League leaders are your best source for consistent, up-to-date, science based information.  In addition to reading on your own, conversations with other successfully breastfeeding mothers at mother’s groups can often help personalize your breastfeeding expectations and realities, helping to show you how to incorporate breastfeeding into your everyday life in your own community.

Social Norms?

Embarrassing a breastfeeding mother is not normal. There are Americans who are vocal about their disapproval of mothers feeding their infants and children in public. In American culture, breasts are regarded as sexual objects and their nurturing function is rarely considered.  Focusing on the sexuality of female breasts is common in the mass media, yet visual images of breastfeeding are rare and is closely related to the disapproval of breastfeeding in public spaces. In the rest of the world, women are free to breastfeed wherever it is desirable.  And they didn’t have to have an Act of Congress to keep themselves from being arrested for doing so. For many women, the feeling of embarrassment restricts their activities and is cited as a reason for choosing to feed expressed breastmilk or formula by bottle or to give up breastfeeding altogether. More breastfeeding in public will remedy this shameful, non-acceptance of women’s breasts as a biologic norm and not a socially abnormal one to be kept hidden. Make an effort to go out with your mother’s group and breastfeed openly.

Conflicting Advice about Supplementation

Concern about insufficient milk supply is a frequently cited reason for the early introduction of supplemental feedings, which sets up the cycle for less and less breastmilk production. Having a poor milk supply can result from infrequent feedings or poor breastfeeding techniques, but lack of confidence in breastfeeding or not understanding the normal physiology of lactation can lead to the perception of an insufficient milk supply when in fact the quantity is enough to nurture the baby. A lactation consultant can fine-tune your breastfeeding style to increase your production, if that is truly needed and she can support your practices and offer encouragement without finding anything “wrong.”  

ADVICE: Call your insurance company before your baby is born and get answers to these questions:

1. What do you need to submit to be reimbursed for the services of a board certified lactation consultant?                                                         

2. Which breast pumps will be reimbursed?

3. What about reimbursement for breastfeeding/breast pump supplies?

Have the pump, collecting bottles and milk storage bags in your home, cleaned and ready to use...and put away in a closet.  You might have a need for it, you might not. With good breastfeeding practices, you can be confident that your breasts will be able to feed your baby without mechanical intervention. I can’t say enough about a positive mindset...I will make enough milk, I will make enough milk...

You are in control of how your baby is fed. Speak up when you need support. Ask again if you don’t understand a medical “rationale” and most importantly don’t let anyone take the power of breastfeeding away from you.

Paula Zindler

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