Breastfeeding: The ultimate convenience food
As a new mum I just didn't get the controversy around the ‘breastfeed or not to breastfeed’ debate.
I was lucky enough to find simple non biased information on the benefits and then had support that helped me to establish and build confidence when I did choose to breastfeed our babies.
Breastmilk is clever stuff
Breastfeeding protects the baby and mother from illness, infections, cot death, cancers. It adapts to the needs of your baby becoming thinner or thicker depending on your baby’s hunger and thirst, provides tailored antibodies depending on the bugs that the baby is facing at the time.
In the very first few hours and days the baby only requires drops at a time. This precious first ‘liquid gold’ milk is called colostrum and carries immunities from mother to infant, it contains and abundance of nutrients and promotes the immune system to fight germs. And thats just the start!
The list of benefits is extensive, one that stuck with me is that breastfed babies are much less likely to require a hospital visit in their first year of life than their formula fed counterparts.
Successful feeding - things we should know and then share
- Good attachment and positioning are the key!
- Feed, feed, feed
Newborns feed often. Investing time over the first 6 weeks or so is essential to develop your milk production.
- Milk varies during a feed
There is an initial thinner part of each feed, then the thicker, creamier milk and then a final very thick ‘desert’ stage. Different sucking
actions are required for each stage and the last stage, which the richest needed for weight gain, can be mistaken for a sleepy not so interested baby.
Feeds do become easier and less frequent when efficient feeding has been established, although all babies differ so there is no set timetable for this.
Myth-buster: There are hardly any women that physically can’t produce enough milk, its much more likely that with the correct attachment and regular feeding sufficient milk will be produced.
In Britain we get off to a good start, with 73.9% of babies beginning life as breastfed babes. The World Health Organisation recommend exclusive breastfeeding up to six months.
This number drastically drops to just under half of babies still exclusively breastfed by weeks 4-6. Not all parents receive basic information and help and so even when the decision is taken to breastfeed some mothers struggle to stick with it and so never realise how easy it becomes.
Not every mother chooses to breastfeed, but it is important that whatever decision is made it's an informed one.
I’m a working mum of 2 children, with a number of years as a professional advisor and advocate. My interest in breastfeeding initially came about when expecting our first child in 2010 and I began to look at the information available.
Once I had made the decision to breastfeed the support I received was essential in me being able to establish and to continue to breastfeed my children.
I have since became passionate about making sure that women and new parents have access to information to help them make informed decisions, get off to a good start, and to tackle issues as they arise. I have delivered advice and support through ante-natal breastfeeding workshops, provided one-to-one advice and developed individual support plans.
My Le Leche league training and experience as a Charnwood Breastfeeding Reassurance and Support peer supporter has allowed me to support dozens of new families to make an educated decision about how to feed their baby.
Antenatal information and support in the early weeks is crucial to ongoing success of breastfeeding. There are many volunteer groups, in addition to NHS advice, available around the country, supporting parents with information and guidance and making a difference to the health of future generations.
Le Leche League trained breastfeeding advisor and mum to 2 young children