Did you know this week is World Breastfeeding Week?
There are many differing opinions and personal experiences around breastfeeding among friends, families and even industry professional. Whilst many people opt to breast feed their little one for the health benefits for both mum and baby, some people choose not to breastfeed, or can’t for many different reasons. We believe making the decision to breastfeed or not is a personal matter. This breastfeeding week we simply want to give you useful and helpful information to help you make an informed decision for you and your baby.
What are the benefits for your baby?
Let’s start at the obvious and most important place, what are the benefits of breastfeeding for your baby? Ultimately the main benefit is that breast milk provides the ideal nutrients for babies. The milk you naturally produce is like a magical medicine, packed with antibodies that help protect babies from infections and diseases. It also has the perfect mix of vitamins, protein and fat, giving your baby the exact nutrients they need to grow and develop.
Breastfed babies are introduced to many different tastes through their mother's breast milk which makes for a truly sensory experience and may lead to a smoother weaning journey.
What are the benefits for you?
Let’s not forget about you, Mama. What are the benefits of breastfeeding for you? There are actually many health benefits to Mum’s when it comes to breastfeeding as well. The hormone oxytocin, released during breastfeeding, acts to return the uterus to its regular size more quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding. It also helps Mum’s feel a sense of fulfilment and joy from the physical connection, this is augmented by the release of hormones that accompany breastfeeding. As well as the hormone oxytocin as previously mentions, the hormone prolactin is released and produces a peaceful and nurturing sensation that allows you to relax too.
Skin to skin contact is also another major benefit for mum and baby, it stimulates milk supply and enhances the emotional connection. Nursing mothers say they really enjoy the natural experience of bonding so closely with their little one.
Plus it’s free and always available! You produce your own milk so it is completely free food for your baby and is always carried with you wherever you go so super convenient. Since you don't have to buy and measure formula, sterilise nipples, or warm bottles, it saves you precious time as well! Breastfeeding is also good for the environment, since there are no bottles to wash or formula cans to throw away.
Choosing not to...
Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay! The choice is all yours. Some people simply choose not to, or their situation means they can’t, for example if they are adopting, had a traumatic birth or simply struggle with their milk supply.
Some women don’t like the idea of breastfeeding in public and would prefer to use a bottle instead. In this circumstance you could plan ahead and pump before heading out, so you can still feed your little one breast milk from a bottle instead of from your breast.
Some families prefer the option of knowing that the father or any other caregiver can bottle-feed the baby at any time. This can give Mum some much needed rest or perhaps if they are heading back to work earlier it could be more convenient to choose not to breastfeed.
Don’t feel pressured
Remember every new mum and family is different and the decision is completely up to you. Everyone will have their own preferences, opinions and experiences but you have to make the right decision for you and your family. Don’t feel pressured or shamed by other people’s choices, you will know what is right for you and your baby when the time comes.
Breastfeeding will make my breasts sag
Some women fear that breastfeeding will alter the appearance of their breasts. But most breast surgeons would argue that age, gravity, genetics and lifestyle factors like smoking all change the shape of a woman's breasts more than breastfeeding does.
Formula milk is the same as breast milk
Whilst formula is the best possible alternative to breast milk, formula may not be digested as quickly and doesn't allow antibodies and other germ-fighting factors to be passed from mother to baby in the way breast milk does, naturally strengthening their immune system.
Breastfeeding is a natural way to feed a baby and it should not hurt. If you experience pain in your breasts, it's usually because your baby is not positioned or latched on properly. Ask your midwife, health visitor or a breastfeeding specialist to watch a whole feed to help spot the problem. Some women find their nipples get sore a few days after they begin breastfeeding. If a baby only sucks the nipple rather than the whole areola, then their tongue or roof of the mouth may rub on the nipple. This causes nipples to get sore quickly and might cause nipple cracking. Invest in a good nipple balm that will help sooth and repair.