Google the word “Breastfeeding” and you’re immediately plunged into a world of divisive debate, heated conversation and, sadly, name calling. It seems that nothing is quite so personal as the decision to, or not to, breastfeed your newborn. For a personal decision, this topic gets a lot of publicity, and virtually every woman has an opinion, wether they have children or not.
If you’re a mom who started out with the desire to breastfeed but then gave it up, you’re not alone. On average, 72% of new moms begin by breastfeeding, but only 40% are still going strong by the time their baby turns 6 months old. There’s a good deal of proof pointing to this also being a cultural trend. Only 54% of African American women start out breastfeeding and by 6 months, only 27% are still at it.
Medically speaking, breast is best. It’s nature’s perfect food for your baby. Antibodies passed from a nursing mother to her baby can help lower the occurrences of many conditions like ear infections, diarrhea and respiratory infections. Breastfeeding can help protect premature babies down the road from allergies, asthma and even diabetes. Of course, you just can’t beat the cost of breastfeeding, either. Free is always good.
On the other hand, breastfeeding requires a large time commitment from new mothers, who can find themselves in demand every 2 to 3 hours. And only 15 states require workplaces to provide time or a private space for lactating moms to pump or to feed their babies. It’s no wonder the bottle is so popular. Many new moms who choose the bottle do so because their schedule makes what would seem to be the most natural and easy way to feed their child downright difficult.
No matter which side of the debate you’re on, the conversation should remain a civil one. Breastfeeding does not come naturally to every new mom and both mother and baby need a lot of patience to get into the routine. Even with ample patience and help from doctors, nurses, lactation consultants (and even grandma), the results may be less than perfect. In some cases, they can be an absolute flop. New moms shouldn’t be made to feel like failures but rather get the support and understanding they need during their emotional and exciting postpartum time.
Lactation consultants and specialists are available to help at both St. Vincent Women’s Hospital and St. Vincent Carmel Hospital. Breastfeeding classes also enable new moms to learn the benefits for both mom and baby, discover tips for latching and positioning, and get help with questions on returning to the workplace. You may register online or call (317) 338-4HER for more information.