Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Breastfeeding Confidence

In Utah we have excellent rates of breastfeeding initiation.  In fact, we lead the nation.  The challenge comes in sustaining those levels.  We analyze data collected from new moms throughout the state.  The results indicate that the number one reason women stop breastfeeding before the recommended six months (exclusive), 12 months (with solid foods, but still as the primary food) or 24 months (as recommended globally) is lack of confidence. 

They don't believe they have enough milk.  Usually it's a perception; not a fact.  The baby seems to want to continue to suck after a feeding (this is the baby's normal reflex that encourages her to feed and survive)  Or the baby is fussy (there are other reasons for fussiness besides hunger), or the breasts don't feel full like they did at the beginning (also normal since swelling is reduced and milk supply and demand kicks in).

If there truly is a supply issue, it most often is caused by giving early supplements to the baby.  Breasts will not make more milk than is determined by the baby's feedings.  If the baby is getting nutrition elsewhere, the message will not go to the brain to make more milk.  So, it's a downward spiral.  The less your baby nurses, the less milk you have; the less milk you have, the more likely you are to supplement with artificial foods.

Read here for some good insight about this (Opposing Views article by Pinky McKay, an Internationally Certified Lactation Consultant)

Here closing comment is oh, so true: 
"Above all, rather than worrying about how much milk your baby is getting, try to relax and enjoy each feed as a time of loving interaction between you and your baby. By watching, listening and getting to know your baby’s nonverbal cues that say, I am hungry, tired, I want to play or please give me some quiet space, you will realise [sic] that you are the expert about your baby and you will be able to turn a deaf ear to negative voices. This is self- confidence!
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