Breastfeeding Overview

One of the things that often surprises new moms is the fact that breastfeeding can sometimes be a challenge. Many women think that breastfeeding should be the easiest thing in the world: put the baby on the breast and the rest takes care of itself. This is not usually the case. Breastfeeding is a skill that requires some knowledge, practice, and patience. It can be challenging for both the mother and the newborn. There is a learning curve that both parties need to go through. If you understand this, breastfeeding becomes less frustrating. With time, most women find breastfeeding to become easy and enjoyable, but it takes practice.

There are many advantages to breastfeeding. For the baby there are psycho-motor developmental issues that are thought to be improved with breastfeeding. There tend to be less infections in babies that breastfeed, this includes ear infections, colds, and other illnesses. For the mom breastfeeding also has advantages. Breastfeeding burns calories and helps with losing the weight that is acquired during pregnancy. Breastfeeding helps with bonding, once mastered is very convenient, and it’s free. Formula is expensive and messing with bottles can be a hassle. Women who breastfeed also have a decreased chance of breast cancer down the road.

There are some disadvantages to breastfeeding as well. You need to be close to your baby, You can pump and store breast milk but for most women breastfeeding ties them to the baby more than bottle feeding. The beginning can be challenging and bottle feeding is easier to learn for most moms and babies than breastfeeding. Ultimately, the choice is a personal choice and either way is acceptable. It has become common for healthcare providers and hospitals to treat bottle feeding moms like they are doing something wrong. Bottle feeding your baby is not criminal and bottle feeding moms are good moms too. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or bad if you choose not to breastfeed.

Breast milk often takes 2-3 days to really come in. The breast produces colostrum at first, which is mostly serum and antibodies. Do not worry, this is exactly what your baby needs in the beginning. For some women when the breatmilk comes in it can be really dramatic. For others it can be more subtle. But do not worry, it will come in.

The current recomendations are to breastfeed your baby for at least the first year. If you can not or choose not to breastfeed that long, don’t feel bad. There are advantages gained even if breastfeeding is only for the first few weeks. Don’t worry about an arbitrary time frame for breastfeeding. One year is great, but so is 6 months or 6 weeks or however long you choose to breastfeed.