To breastfeed or not to breastfeed? That is the question many new moms face.
Even when mothers decide to breastfeed and are able to get off to a good start, in the week or months after delivery there is a sharp decline in breastfeeding rates and practices; particularly exclusive breastfeeding. A community support system for mothers is essential, including family, trained health workers, lactation consultants, community leaders and friends who are also mothers.
In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, I talked to our Lactation Committee at Children’s. Angie Barnett, RN, team lead in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s, covers all you need to know about breastfeeding facts and myths.
Q: What are the rights of breastfeeding at a workplace?
AB: If a workplace is designated as mother-friendly, they must have a designated area for the mother to pump, a flexible schedule that allows her to pump, access to a water supply to clean the breast pump and a place for her to store the breast milk.
Q: What are the benefits of breastfeeding for mom and baby?
AB: Benefits for baby include antibodies in the breast milk that protect the infant from getting sick. Breastfed babies are less likely to have allergies and dental cavities. Breastfeeding also helps mother and baby bond because of the close, skin-to-skin contact.
Benefits for the mother include a decreased risk of ovarian and breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and postpartum depression. Breastfeeding is also more convenient and less expensive than bottle feeding, and breastfeeding moms miss less work because breastfed babies tend to be sick less often.
Q: Why do moms tend to stop breastfeeding?
AB: There are many reasons that mothers choose to stop, but some of the most common ones are sore nipples, infant biting, infant not seeming to be satisfied with only breast milk and because breastfeeding does not fit into their lifestyle.
Q: What is the recommended amount of time for mom to breastfeed?
AB: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 12 months or longer.
Q: How should mom safely store breast milk?
AB: Fresh breast milk is good for four hours at room temperature, 96 hours in the refrigerator, three months in a regular freezer and six months in a deep freezer. Frozen breast milk that has been thawed is good at room temperature for four hours and in the refrigerator for 48 hours from the time of removal from the freezer.
Q: What are some misconceptions that new moms have about breastfeeding?
Myth #1 – Mothers have to use both breasts at each feeding.
When initiating breastfeeding, both breasts should be used to establish the milk supply and then an infant should finish the first breast completely because the hind milk contains the most calories.
Myth #2 – Poor milk supply is caused by stress or not eating properly.
Poor milk supply is usually caused by not nursing enough, not getting the baby to latch on to the breast correctly or not having the baby in a good position.
Myth #3 – A mother must drink milk to make milk.
A mother should have a well-rounded nutritious diet to produce milk.
Myth #4 – The mother should not be a pacifier for the baby.
A mother was designed to comfort her baby. Infants suck to soothe themselves, and nursing is comforting to an infant.
Myth #5 – Mothers that hold their babies too much will spoil them.
Infants who are held cry less and are more secure as they grow older.
Myth #6 – Nursing a baby longer than 12 months has no nutritional value.
Human breast milk is unique because it changes to meet the baby’s nutritional demands and will continue to boost a child’s immune system for as long as it is offered.
For more information about extending breastfeeding past 12 months, read Extended Breastfeeding: Is It Healthy?