How to make breastfeeding easy, enjoyable and successful. How to breastfeed simply and naturally, with confidence.
Before I had my first baby I assumed the way to feed a baby was using bottles and formula. That is what those around me did and had done for some time. However as the birth approached my natural instincts were guiding me to breastfeed my baby. My instincts proved to be wise because I have since learned that breastfeeding is very beneficial for baby and mother.
To my surprise many women had sad stories to share about breastfeeding, about how painful it had been for them, how they could not produce enough milk and some that they could simply not bear to do it.
To be honest, at first I found breastfeeding painful. I did not have any help or guidance how to breastfeed and probably struggled more than was necessary. (At that time I lived very remotely in the mountains with no internet access, family or friends nearby) I had been so focussed on the birth, I had not considered what I needed to do afterwards and was not well prepared as I had been with the birth. As a result I probably struggled more than I needed to. This could have been avoided if I had been better prepared.
Even with my initial challenges with breastfeeding, I am so glad I stuck with it. I nursed my son until he was 20 months old. (in spite of some critical comments received from friends and family). My son has always been very healthy and rarely gets ill. My research since has shown me that breast milk is the perfect nourishment for a baby. The breast milk is created on demand from the nutrients required by the baby needs at that time, this is known from the baby's saliva. Wow. That is not something you can create in any formula. The female body was designed to birth and breastfeed and almost all women can breastfeed successfully.
The closeness that comes from breastfeeding your baby is incredibly special, it further enhances the bond between mother and baby. A baby greatly enjoys the sound of the mother's heartbeat which he could hear throughout pregnancy and can hear during breastfeeding. A baby can feel warmth from the mother as he nurses. It provides great comfort and security for a newborn. Other people often comment on how content my son is. I am sure this is one of the main reasons my son so content. He regularly received the comfort and security that all babies need.
On a practical note, breastfeeding is so convenient. Breast milk is made fresh and on demand at any time in any place. You do not need to sterilise bottles, run up and down stairs in the night, take bottles and formula everywhere you go in an already over-stuffed baby bag. Breast milk is one of nature's perfect wonders and we are blessed to be able to nourish our babies with this perfect food.
When a mother breast feeds her uterus contracts. It's a natural way to bring the body back into balance. There is no harmful impact on the environment from breastfeeding and there is virtually no cost.
I recently heard a sad story from a female who was no longer breastfeeding her son. She had taken her son to see the paediatric doctor who told her he hadn't gained enough weight and she must introduce formula milk. As soon as she did this the volume of her breast milk began to diminish because breast milk works on supply and demand. So that was the beginning of the end of breastfeeding her son. The sad part of the story is that her son wasn't actually underweight or unhealthy at all, he just did not fit in with the paediatric doctor's graph stating how much a baby at that age should weigh, on average!
On the downside, sometimes society can still be a little bit on the uppity side about breastfeeding in public. I was very aware of this and made a point of being discreet. I always carried a shawl or a sling and people would not even know I was breastfeeding. I found that easier than dealing with other people's reactions. Besides, I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable, whatever their reason, and so I did not mind being discreet. These days it seems the public are more comfortable with breastfeeding in public. In England it has been great to see all the help and encouragement offered by the NHS. I even saw a sticker in some coffeeshops stating it welcomed breastfeeding mothers!
On a final funny and politically incorrect note about breastfeeding .... I really enjoyed having big fab boobs for a year or so!
There are many websites dedicated to keeping women informed on all issues relating to breastfeeding. I encourage you to browse them and research for yourself why breastfeeding is so worthwhile for your baby and you. One I recommend is La Leche League. La Leche League International helps mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education.
If you are interested in reading more about breastfeeding please see the Bookshop which has a section dedicated to some fantastic books about breastfeeding.