Breastfeeding controversy heats up again every few years and, right now, it is warming up quite nicely. Many women, if not most, want to nurse—whether it is because they believe the science that supports the benefits to mother and child, it resonates with their natural lifestyle, they feel hormonally inclined to do so, or their mothers or ancestors have led them down this road.
Of all the battles in the “mommy wars,” none may be more fiercely fought than breast vs. formula. If you breastfeed your baby, you may catch flack for nursing in public. If you formula feed, you may be scolded that you’re not feeding your baby “nature’s perfect food”—breast milk.
Photos of women breastfeeding their babies will no longer be considered nudity or pornography on Facebook. The social media network recently changed its policy. It never banned these types of photos before, but pictures were being removed if another Facebook member flagged them.
One of the ways to help your baby get the right nutrients while breastfeeding is to eat healthy. It might seem like the obvious choice, but by making healthy food choicesyour baby can reap significant benefits such as protection from infection and illness.
Essential nutrients a mother needs while breastfeeding include a variety of vegetables and fruits, seafood, poultry, lean meats, eggs, beans and nuts, fat-free or low-fat milk or soy products with added calcium, brown rice, 100 percent whole-wheat bread, and other whole grains such as oats and barley plus fortified cereals. Babies especially need vitamin D for healthy bone growth, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough. If this is difficult for you, or you feel like you’re not getting enough vitamin D, talk to your baby’s doctor or nurse.
Breastfeeding experts suggest that it is ideal to try to breastfeed for the first 6 to 12 months after birth. Tell your doctor, midwife, or nurse that you want to breastfeed within 1 hour of your baby’s birth because after the first hour, your baby will be sleepy. If you have a health condition or are taking any medicines, talk to a doctor or midwife about breastfeeding before your baby is born.
Breast milk has also contains the right amount of protein, fat, sugar and water to help your baby grow, and breast milk makes is easier for babies to digest than is formula. But there are also benefits for moms who breastfeed: saving your family thousands of dollars, burning calories (which helps moms lose some pregnancy weight), and lower the risk of diabetes, depression, and some types of breast and ovarian cancers. However, the biggest benefit for moms is probably that breastfeeding allows for a strong bond between mother and baby by getting to know each other and time to be close.
Studies are finding new benefits of breastfeeding all the time. The May 2010 issue of Pediatrics, for example, published a study showing that babies who are breastfed are less likely to have fevers after their immunizations than babies who are formula fed.
Although breastfeeding is natural, it certainly isn’t easy, and it may take time and practice for you and your baby to get it right. Some women may experience problems at first, but talking to your doctor, nurse, or lactation counselor can often solve these problems.
For more information on breastfeeding basics and actions new mothers can take, please visit www.healthfinder.gov or visit www.chicagoareabfc.org, which is a Chicago-based network dedicated to protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding and increasing its acceptance.