Monday, January 17, 2011

The ABCs of the Consequences of NOT Breastfeeding

Last week was our monthly La Leche League meeting, and we discussed the ABCs of breastfeeding. You can "like" the La Leche League of Canyon County, ID page on Facebook to see the ABCs that our group members came up with... they'll be posting one letter a day for the next few weeks.

I'm going to share with you the ABCs of the consequences of NOT breastfeeding, taken from my CLEC course. Everything listed here can happen to breastfed babies, but the risk is MUCH higher if the child is given artificial baby milk (formula) instead of being exclusively breastfed.

The benefits of breastfeeding are endless, but the risks of NOT breastfeeding are so much more important to take into consideration.

A- Asthma
B- Bronchitis
C- Celiac Disease
D- Diarrhea
E- Eating Disorders
F- Food Allergies
G- Gastro-intestinal issues
H- Hodgkin's Disease
I- Immune-regulatory diseases
J- Jaw development problems
K- Kidney transplant failure
L- Leukemia
M- Meningitis
N- Neurological Disorders
O- Otitis Media (middle ear infection)
P- Pneumonia
Q- Quantifiable IQ deficit
R- Respiratory problems
T- Tongue Thrusts
U- Ulcerative Colitis
V- Viral infections
W- Water intoxication
X- eXcessive weight gain
Y- Yucky diapers
Z- Zinc deficiency

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Support: The Key To Successfully Breastfeeding

Once your brain is full of all the breastfeeding resources and information you can handle, the next step is building your support system.

Some women are blessed to have family and friends all around them that are supportive of breastfeeding, having nursed many children and for quite a long time. Some women have a few cousins or maybe a sister that nursed their babies and know the benefits, but weren't really all that into it. Most women have nobody around them to give them the support they need to succeed.

If you have no friends or family, but have the internet, you're in luck! There are great social networking sites that can connect you with like-minded moms across the country and throughout the world. I've met several moms on the website, who have encouraged me, supported me, become great friends, and have helped me in so many more ways than I can list. They turned me into a lactivist, reminded me why I was nursing through a pregnancy when it got hard, and we all love to share information with each other. Though I've met very few of them in person, we have such amazing bonds that I don't have with many people locally. There are several other mom-sites to join, too!

I've linked it a couple other times, but check out La Leche League for awesome local support! Many hospitals also have breastfeeding mom groups run by IBCLCs (internationally board certified lactation consultants), that can be a good alternative if there isn't an LLL meeting in your area.

You may know of friends from high school or college that went on to become full time moms, and nursed their children... now would be a great time to reconnect with them! I've had several friends and acquaintances from high school find me on Facebook for advice about breastfeeding, and I'm oh-so-happy to help and share what I've learned!

For an un-supportive spouse, see the post before this about the father's role in breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can be tough, and having a good support system will really help you succeed!

Happy breastfeeding!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Father's Role in Breastfeeding

Once your baby is born, there seems to be a whirlwind of visitors, mixed in with several nursing sessions a day, and several diaper changes to go along with those feedings. In all of the craziness, you may feel like you need a break, or Dad may offer to do a feed so you can have a nap or shower.

If you're planning on going back to work or school after 6 weeks, and are going to leave baby with a sitter and some pumped milk (which we'll talk about in a future post), starting to give a small bottle of pumped milk around 3 weeks can be very beneficial. But if not, that occasional bottle can really do some damage.

Dads can be incredibly helpful in those first few weeks, even without doing any of the feeding. Bringing you snacks and water, helping out with the household chores while you're nursing, rocking the baby after s/he's finished feeding, changing diapers, holding a full or sleeping baby while you shower, and just giving you the support you need to continue breastfeeding if/when you face any hurdles.

Fathers have such important roles, and they don't need to involve bottles or milk. In those first weeks, if the mom can take care of the baby, and the dad take care of the mom, a household can run very smoothly.

Check out La Leche League to see if there are any father-friendly groups in your area!

Dads, along with the support and encouragement, one of the best things you can do for your nursing partner is to shower her with compliments. Sometimes, breastfeeding may make a mother feel "blah;" if you're there to tell her what an amazing mother she is, how breastfeeding makes her so beautiful, and that she's a goddess, you will raise her up so high. :)

Happy breastfeeding!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What You Need to Know While You're Still Pregnant

That first BFP (big fat positive) on the pregnancy test can bring up so many emotions. I started balling when I got my first. Not strictly out of happiness... more fear, stress, and an overwhelming "ohmygawdwhatamIgoingtodo?!" The second and third just put a HUGE smile on my face, and I immediately started planning. Books I needed to get (and read!); appointments needing to be made; baby registries to be started.

Of everything that needs to be done, I feel that the two most important are: deciding on your birth plan, reading EVERYTHING you can to ensure that you know fully what to expect -good and bad- and making an early decision to breastfeed. Not, "Well, I'm going to try..." but a very determined, "I AM going to breastfeed my child." At the bottom of this post, I'll list some amazing books (and a couple to avoid) to get you started in the birth and breastfeeding arena.

Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes, and many birthing centers do as well. They're bare bones "get you started" classes, and can be a great jumping off point! Take what you learn there, and look more deeply into subjects online, in books, or by asking friends and family that have nursed. It's definitely not enough information to call it good and expect breastfeeding to go smoothly, but is still worth the 2-3 hours.

Once you've begun your information download, the next step is to start attending your local La Leche League meetings (the link will take you to a map of all the groups worldwide!). LLL is a mother-to-mother support group, full of women that are pregnant for the first time up to older women with grown children that have nurslings of their own... a fantastic resource for all mothers. These women have discovered how breastfeeding blossoms into nursing, and how mothering at the breast creates an amazing bond and makes breastfeeding so much more enjoyable, and more than anything, want to share.

Just like you've begun to write out your birth plan, you should begin to look into making a breastfeeding birth plan. This includes the most natural birth as possible (as epidurals and c-sections have been proven to delay breastfeeding and can sabotage the nursing relationship), breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, and limiting visitors in the hospital/birthing center and also when at home. Here is a fantastic article about getting started with breastfeeding at the hospital.

After you've made your birth plan and your decision to breastfeed, the next step is to ASK. Any questions you might have, even if you think it's silly or TMI. You need to know as much as humanly possible in order to succeed. Ask friends, family, LLL leaders, lactation counselors, the peer counselors at WIC (if you're on it), and me! If anyone gives you a piece of advice that you find yourself questioning, get a 2nd, 3rd... 17th opinion. Best intentions don't always equal the best information.

Happy pregnancy!

Some awesome books to read:

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin
Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide, by Penny Simkin, Janet Whalley, and Ann Keppler

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th Edition, by LLL International
So That's What They're For, by Janet Tamaro
The Breastfeeding Cafe, by Barbara Behrmann
Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding, by Ina May Gaskin

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Breastfeeding's Not Just For Hippies

Many people think that breastfeeding is outdated... it's what the cave women did, after all. The hippies in the 70s picked it back up after a long time of formula being the norm, along with not shaving their armpits and letting their hair grow to their waists.

But not only is breastfeeding not outdated, it is timeless. Every mammal in the world nurses their offspring; Mammals... Mammary glands. Get it? We're designed to put our children to breast as soon as they're born, and let them keep coming back until the "milk" teeth (baby teeth) fall out and adult teeth start coming in (between 4-7 years old).

Society puts a lot of pressure on new moms to go with the flow, do what everyone else is doing... be a sheep and don't educate yourself at all. Well, starting now, quit that. Use your education, your common sense, and your instincts to parent. When the baby's born, what do your instincts say to do (when there's not a bottle of formula waved in your face)? They tell you to give that baby the milk you've been making for the past 6 months (breasts start to produce colostrum, the first milk, around 10-14 weeks gestation), straight from the tap, as soon as possible after birth.

Breastfeeding is just biologically normal. Not super serum, or liquid gold as it's often referred. Just normal. Human milk for human babies (and toddlers!), because it's designed specifically for them. Of course it's been shown to affect cancer rates, IQs, a slew of diseases and conditions; but the question to ask on that (and I'll come back to it in a different post) is, "Does breastfeeding reduce these rates, or does NOT breastfeeding RAISE the rates?"

There's an environmental aspect to nursing: no waste from packaging, no waste from manufacturing, no water being used to make the milk besides what you're already drinking. That probably catches the "green" eye, but for most breastfeeding mothers, it's just icing on the already awesome cake.

Whether you're doing it for the environment or for your (and your baby's) health, breast milk is still the best thing for your baby... because it's what we're designed to do.

Here We Go!

Welcome to Boob 101.

My goal is to have a blog filled with information about breastfeeding, tricks and tools to assist you, and personal stories to help you know that you're not alone!

A little about me before we get started:

My name's Melanie. I'll be honest with you and tell that I'm 21 years old; I've been married to my wonderful husband, Austin, for 4 years; we have an almost 4-year-old son, Liam, and an almost-2-year-old daughter, Fiona; Baby Alaina will make her grand appearance in April. I began my parenting journey when I was 17 and had Liam; before then, I did no research whatsoever, and it's quite amazing to me that he turned out as well as he has. ;) Once I got a hold of information sources, I've held on tight and continued to learn as much as possible.

I've been breastfeeding since April 30th, 2007, nursed Liam through my pregnancy with Fiona, and then tandem nursed them for 16 months, at which point, I was pregnant with #3, and Liam self-weaned. Fiona is happily nursing through this pregnancy, and will tandem nurse with her little sister until she's ready to stop.

Helping other mothers with breastfeeding has been a passion of mine for a while... I started out quite ignorant, just nursed because my older sister did... and because I was completely shocked at the price of formula. When Liam was a few months old, I became a lactivist, with overwhelming ideals and an in-your-face position. After I learned that that doesn't actually accomplish anything, I took a more laid-back stance, and only answered questions when asked; only offered help when someone was clearly struggling.

The impact that breastfeeding my children has had on my life and my parenting is immeasurable. My decisions are all fueled by research in order to give my kids the best start to their lives as possible, and that includes exclusive breastfeeding, healthy eating, and child-led weaning.

My goal is to become an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). I will be one by the time I'm 25-- just wait and see. I recently finished my certification to be a Lactation Educator-Counselor (CLEC), and I'm a leader of a mother-to-mother breastfeeding support group.

Though I am an activist and supporter for many things, I'm going to do my best to keep this blog about breastfeeding. Some things do cross into the realm of breastfeeding, and I'll very likely talk about them... but please, take what works for you, ask me to specify on things that you don't quite understand, and keep in mind that what I say might not be the most popular thing, or very mainstream, but it may be very worth it to give it a try.