World Breastfeeding Week-Understanding the Past, Planning for the Future

Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week. Yay! Be prepared for all things breastfeeding 🙂

World Breastfeeding Week started 20 years ago in an effort to educate and bring up the number of breastfeeders. It started with a campaign for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

“The BFHI [Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative] assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or feeding formula safely, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.” ~from BFHI USA

Here are those 10 steps (again from BFHI USA)

The Ten Steps To Successful Breastfeeding

The BFHI promotes, protects, and supports breastfeeding through The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding for Hospitals, as outlined by UNICEF/WHO. The steps for the United States are:

1 – Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
2 – Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3 – Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4 – Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
5 – Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
6 – Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
7 – Practice “rooming in”– allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8 – Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9 – Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
10 – Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic

If you want to see the complete history of WBW and the topics focused on each year, go here

Why does breastfeeding get so much attention?

Some may wonder why breastfeeding needs a whole week dedicated to it, but breastfeeding women need support. Breastfeeding is a learned behavior. Yes, some mamas and babies take to it no problem, but for others it requires patience and help.

Formula is shoved in our faces day in and day out. I had coupons and whole cans of formula show up in my mail box when I was pregnant with Munchkin and I had never expressed an interest in using formula. There are ads everywhere touting that formula is just what your baby needs.

Formula isn’t horrible (and neither are the mamas who choose to feed it), but the formula companies, well, they are rather horrible. New mamas are very susceptible to doubts. All those hormones flying around, not getting enough sleep, trying to sync with the new baby and balance the rest of life, all wear on a mama. Formula companies take advantage of this.

This is where breastfeeding support comes in. When mamas are experiencing these doubts, they need breastfeeding advocates there to support them. No offense meant to formula feeding mamas, but you haven’t experienced it. When I was having problems with Munchkin, I would get advice all the time from formula feeding mamas telling me to just give formula . That wasn’t the advice I wanted or needed.

Breastfeeding needs to be seen as normal as formula or bottle feeding. It is the biologically normal way of feeding our children. Formula is artificial, not normal. A baby’s GI system isn’t meant to digest artificial ingredients. Heck, our systems as adults aren’t designed to digest them either.

Breastmilk provides our babies with everything they need. It is chock full of vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, antibodies, and everything else their little bodies require for growing.

Did you know that if/when your baby is exposed to an illness that your baby’s body communicates with your body via mouth to nipple? By the next feeding, your body is already developing antibodies for them. Here is a really interesting article by Dr Jack Newman on antibodies in breastmilk.

Did you know that the composition of breastmilk changes according to your baby’s needs? The milk your newborn gets is different from the milk your infant gets, is different from the milk you toddler gets. Milk changes from the beginning of a feed to the end of a feed. The first bit of milk contains more water to quench thirst and then it becomes fattier to satiate hunger. Breastmilk also changes in composition from morning to night. You produce less at night, but it is higher in fat content to help baby sleep. It also produces sleep inducing hormones.

Just because baby is cranky and wants to nurse frequently does not mean you aren’t producing enough milk. Babies go through growth spurts where they nurse more to tell your body to produce more milk. Babies also go through a period at the end of the day where they are cranky. They want to be held and to nurse almost constantly. They are taking in milk, but it is also for comfort and to help them unwind from all the stimulation of the day. The percentage of women who actually can’t breastfeed or don’t produce enough milk (due to things like IGT and PCOS) is actually pretty small. There are many places to get help if you are having problems, all you have to do is ask 🙂

Breastmilk is seriously amazing. I have a combined lactating experience of 35 months (between both boys) and I am still amazed that my body is responsible for growing and nourishing living beings.

Making informed decisions is the most important thing you can do for children and yourself. Make sure you have all the information. Don’t take just one person’s word for it. Your pediatrician/family dr/OB/GYN can’t possibly know everything there is to know about everything. There is a lot of misinformation out there, on most topics. Educate yourself as much as you can.

Remember, just because you didn’t/couldn’t breastfeed one baby, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do so with the next.

We need to Understand our Past so that we can Plan for our Future.

 

I linked up with the Breastfeeding Blog Hop this week. (see patch to the right) It is now being hosted by the wonderful ladies at Sisters N’ Cloth. Go check them out and read some of the other blog hop participants blogs as well. 

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2 thoughts on “World Breastfeeding Week-Understanding the Past, Planning for the Future

  1. I am so thankful the hospital I delivered at encourage mothers to room in. I preferred it that way because I could see cues that my daughter might be hungry and need to be breastfeed.

    • That is great. I wish more hospitals would be willing to help breastfeeding moms. I think it gives them extra work though. Formula feeding is easier for them.
      The hospital I delivered Munchkin at definitely left me wanting. I thought I had educated myself enough, but alas, I was wrong. When we know better, we do better though. My experience with Peanut has been completely different and we are still going strong at 19 months.

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