Booby Traps: modern day obstacles to establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship

5 Aug

P1000009 Hands up everyone who admits to being a pro-breastfeeding judge of all those mummies who didn’t quite make it with their mummy milk?

I admit I was one of those people; surely successful breastfeeding is just a matter of perseverance and strong will I thought!

Since breastfeeding my son now for over two and a half years I can now attest that these two traits are definitely part of the process, however, there is a lot more to it than just knowing the benefits of breastfeeding for you and your child and deciding to follow through.

Here’s a list of ten ‘booby traps’ to breastfeeding that you may not have considered:

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1. RESTRICTIVE BRAS – any bra with a wired structure and no room to allow the breasts to expand is going to make breastfeeding unpleasant and often painful. Instead wear vest tops with built-in support or loose-fitting t-shirt bras; or better still why not try getting rid of your ‘boob crutches’ and going bra-less.

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2. AN ACTIVE SOCIAL LIFE INCLUDING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION – everyone seems to know that a pregnant mummy should stay away from alcohol but how many people can admit that for the breastfeeding duration it is just as important to remain t-total? Your baby eats and drinks everything you do, without exception so why not use this time as a great excuse to get healthy by swapping your alcohol for water or a natural juice; I promise that you can have just as much fun and nobody even has to know if you stick it in a wine glass!

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3. NOT SURE HOW TO GET STARTED – many years ago women used to learn all about breastfeeding by growing up in communities where they witnessed it daily; they learned from mothers and aunties and knew what to expect. Nowadays breastfeeding is so uncommon amongst westernised cultures that we must take support elsewhere. Request a breastfeeding councillor if you birth at hospital and afterwards hook up with ‘La leche league’ for advice on all things breastfeeding. Expect a 4-6 week settling in period where perseverance is the key to get past any pain and latching on issues.

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4. FEAR OF OTHERS OPINIONS – there’s no better way to overcome self-consciousness like breastfeeding whilst others look on or make comments. I’ve found the best way to conquer this is through confidence that what you’re doing is natural and best for you and your child. Seek out helpful facts to help you face others with confidence:

  • International weaning age across the globe ranges from 2 up to 7 years old when the first ‘milk teeth’ begin to fall out; after that the jaw changes shape slightly making it more difficult to breastfeed thereafter.
  • Breast milk is the only food created for your baby, not any other animal, which can fully protect their immune system and provide all the nourishment they need by changing the formula depending on your unique baby’s needs at different times, stages and through varying climates. For example, in summer when it’s hot, your breast milk will automatically add in more water for optimum hydration.

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5. LACK OF SUITABLE PLACES TO BREASTFEED IN PUBLIC – shopping centres usually have a parent and baby room near the toilets. Nobody should be expected to feed their child whilst sitting on a toilet to avoid feeling uncomfortable. If you find that you can only relax whilst feeding discreetly and out of view then the best option is to buy a comfortable, breastfeeding-friendly sling so you can feed your child anywhere, anytime, even on the move.

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6. TOO EXHAUSTED TO BREASTFEED – there’s definitely a general consensus in the parenting world that being a parent is tough and tiring, no getting away from it! There are ways though that we can try to make life a little less stressful and more restful. Apart from taking nutritional supplements (Udo’s choice oil and Chlorella are a great start)  and assigning food preparation duties to someone apart from the breastfeeding mummy, the best parenting tool you can add to your kit is Co-sleeping in mum’s bed. Sleeping close to your child not only helps keep them safe and regulated in terms of body temperature and security, it also ensures that the mum receives subtle signals that baby is hungry and ready to feed without having to cry the house down and wake everyone up. As long as you aren’t intoxicated or seriously ill you are highly unlikely to roll over or harm your baby by sleeping with them. Mother’s have an innate instinct to protect their child, even when they’re asleep!

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7. INNACURATE MEDICAL ADVICE – it’s interesting to note that most medical training includes barely a month of basic nutrition out of several years and medical schools also do not offer compulsory teaching about lactation. It is common advice that you should only feed your baby every 3-4 hours. This makes for some very unhappy, hungry children. Unlike cow’s milk, breast milk is lower fat and lower protein to account for the fact that human’s as a species who should stay close to their helpless young for a long time before they venture off alone. Due to this compositional difference, human children must feed as regularly as their unique constitution requires them to (especially through the night). On demand feeding creates a natural demand and supply relationship between mother and child. Other interesting medical opinions include those who state your baby is the ‘wrong weight’. The charts which are determining that ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ weight are actually based on bottle fed babies who, like cows gain weight quicker and digest their milk much slower, making them less active and more dozy, sleeping more.

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8. SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDS WITH FORMULA MILK (especially before 6 months) – formula milk is created as a lab food by pharmaceutical companies using allergens such as cows, goats and soya milk as the base and a whole host of artificially created chemicals, rancid fats and flavourings on top. All this not only makes it difficult on your baby’s digestive system but also, like many other man-made  foods, the taste can become addictive. The introduction of formula milk at any time during the child’s younger years is far inferior to a full-term breastfeeding relationship complimented by whole foods, however, supplementing breast milk with formula early on in the baby’s feeding relationship is bound to encourage them to prefer the taste of the artificial formula milk and reject breastfeeding more and more. The only healthy alternative to supplementing or replacing your own breast milk for your child is to use another mum’s pumped breast milk as women use to do years ago when ‘wet nurses’ were common place.

9. MEDICALIZED BIRTH INTERVENTION – if you birth your baby in a hospital, the chances of achieving a successful breastfeeding relationship are greatly reduced. There are a few reasons for this:

Hospitals are filled with sick patients, bright fluorescent lights, lots of noise and rushed staff, hospital environments are highly stressful whilst breastfeeding requires that mum and baby remain relaxed and comfortable. Opt for a home birth, it’s your right to choose.

Common place procedure involves Immediate separation of mum and baby after birth to do medical checks/interventions which interfere with the vital first moments when mother and bay connect and bond, the baby becomes use to mum’s smell, lying on her stomach, feeling safe, he crawls up and locates his food source. Make a birth plan and state clearly that baby must be handed directly to you for immediate contact, even if this means intervention has to take place with the baby held in your arms. See below for an example of a birth plan taken from http://www.MamaNatural.comAlthough many women know the importance of keeping toxic and harmful substances away from their body during pregnancy, they do not seem to make the connection that during birth your baby is still directly receiving everything that comes into the mother’s body. This includes powerful, narcotic, pain-relieving drugs which not only have to pass through the baby’s liver but also interfere with the hormone production which make breastfeeding a pleasant experience for mum and baby. Try exploring alternative pain relieving methods such as yoga breathing, hypno-birthing and homeopathy during your pregnancy in preparation for the birth.

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10. RETURNING TO WORK WHILST STILL BREASTFEEDING – a successful breastfeeding relationship is difficult to achieve without close, constant contact between mother and baby. When your baby cries due to hunger, the breasts will miraculously begin leaking milk even if you are far away from your child. Expressing milk is a great alternative to breastfeeding as baby is still getting the nourishment from your body however, milk does change according to the time of day and even breast milk taken from a bottle cannot replicate the loving connection a baby receives when feeding directly from the breast. Wherever you can, arrange to work from home where your child can have full access to breastfeeding whenever they need to. If this is not possible then consider selecting a child carer who is willing to be flexible and visit you at your workplace during break times for baby to feed and re-connect with mum. This is now becoming more widely available in places such as OfficeCreche who allow you to work from their own offices whilst providing flexible childcare on site with breastfeeding access. Also there are many nannies and childminders who will work from your own home. If there is absolutely no way you can arrange for your child to have contact with you during your work hours then do insist on a private and comfortable room to made available where you can express breast milk regularly to keep your supply up.

Good luck and happy breastfeeding!

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