How to Find the Best Breastfeeding support

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Breastfeeding support

I am Passionate about Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding is a hot topic in the parenting world, and with good reason. It is a very important topic! However, with the ridiculousness of the “mommy wars”, it is almost offensive for some people to be very pro-breastfeeding. I just wish we could get past this nonsense and realize that breastfeeding is not really about parents and our differences. It is just doing the best for our children!

For several generations now, breastfeeding has fallen out of favor. Formula feeding used to only be used for emergency purposes, but once some people realized how profitable formula sales could be it seems that profits once again won out over the health of our children. Thus began the choice between breast and formula. Because of this, there is such a huge gap in education and support about breastfeeding.

As well as breastfeeding falling out of favor, and other huge issue is that women are being shamed because of breastfeeding in public! People think they are being attention seekers or even indecent because of how much we have sexualized breasts in our society. Feeding a child is the primary purpose for breasts, and we really need to start teaching people this.

Thankfully, “Forty-nine states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location.” (source) Please read this link to learn the laws of your state so you know that you are protected- but don’t ever feel obligated to educate someone that is being rude and ignorant to you!

Because of all of this drama and chaos, I just wanted to make a post that explores the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, as well as where to look for support if you need it should you encounter issues while breastfeeding.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

The American Academy of Pediatrics  recommends breastfeeding for at least 12 months but the World Health Organization recommends nursing for up to 2 years or more, depending on the preference of the mother and baby. (source)

Benefits of breastfeeding for baby:
  • Lowers risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • Helps baby sleep better
  • Reduces risk of both types of diabetes
  • Lowers the risk of sickness and infections (plus if they do catch something, breastmilk will change depending on their needs)
  • Can help prevent obesity (which we know is a huge issue these days)
  • Lowers risk of childhood leukemia
  • Lowers stress levels in the “fourth trimester” period as baby adjusts to the outside world
Benefits of breastfeeding for mothers:
  • Can help with balancing hormones and weight more quickly after birth
  • Reduces risk of type II diabetes
  • Helps reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancers (source)
  • Can lower the risk of heart attack and strokes (source)
  • Can help lower stress levels and prevent PPD (source)
  • Speeds healing in the immediate postpartum period because breastfeeding stimulates uterine contractions, which helps prevent postpartum hemorrhage (source)
  • Also, “the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) is a well-documented contraceptive method, with 98 to 99 percent prevention of pregnancy in the first six months. The natural child-spacing achieved through LAM ensures the optimal survival of each child, and the physical recovery of the mother between pregnancies. In contrast, the bottle-feeding mother needs to start contraception within six weeks of the birth (Kennedy 1989)” (source) (also, I’m not saying to not use birth control methods in the postpartum period {hopefully NOT hormonal birth control though!}, but this is a natural thing that usually happens to help prevent pregnancies being too close together. Definitely interesting to read about.)
Benefits of breastfeeding for society (source):
  • Better for the environment because there is less waste from bottles and formula cans
  • Helps save lives: Even just 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding can save the lives of about 1000 infants
  • Saves money: The USA alone could save about $2.2 BILLION a year in medical expenses because breastfed infants need less sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospital visits. Families can save several thousand dollars a year by choosing to breastfeed as well.
  • Working moms tend to miss less work if they breastfeed because their children require less sick days

 

Common Breastfeeding Issues and How to Resolve Them

Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world- but it doesn’t mean it is easy! I personally had no one in my life that I knew that breastfed, so there was a lot of trial and error involved. But because I was determined, I figured it all out. What helps the most is knowing that there are people out there willing to help you! There are also so many resources that can help you though the most common issues. I found this website to be the most comprehensive!

Low Milk Supply

More often than not, there really is not a problem with low milk supply. It is hard to gauge how much milk you are making, and pumping is NOT an accurate measurement to know how much milk you are making unfortunately. Because it is hard to tell how much you are truly making, it is easy to think that you are not making enough. But there are many ways to fix this issue, depending on the cause.

What Helps to Fix a Low Milk Supply:

  • Fix your latch- make sure baby is latching correctly. Try different positions if needed. Depending on your breast size and comfort level, there may be a better hold for you. For example, the football hold can be very helpful for women with larger breasts, and it can be easier for baby to nurse more efficiently.
  • Check for tongue or lip ties!
  • Go for a lactation tea or tincture, or nettle infusions.
  • Make sure you are eating enough and staying hydrated. Check out my post for easy snack ideas that you can make in a pinch when you are lacking time or energy. Fat bombs are always easy to make ahead of time. Coconut water and herbal infusions help immensely with hydration.
  • Check out the top galactagogues here!
  • It’s all about supply and demand- the more you nurse, the more milk you’ll make. So go with cluster feeding if your baby wants it!
Mastitis:

Mastisis is a breast infection that is usually caused by too much pressure on the milk ducts (like with a bra or sleeping on your breast, which is what I ended up doing on accident which led to mastitis! Learn from my mistake- don’t let that happen!), not draining your breasts well enough (which could be from poor latch or oversupply), or even an open wound on your nipple.

Typical signs of mastitis include: sore breast, red breast (sometimes it will even get hot), nipple discharge (usually looks like pus), enlarged lymph nodes, and eventually it will lead to a fever or flu-like symptoms if not treated quickly.

Mastitis remedies:

  • Keep nursing! Try to drain your breasts as well as you can (and yes, this is still safe for baby! Your baby is going to be better at clearing this than a pump anyway.) Also, try “dangle feeding”, which will use gravity to help unclog the duct.
  • Avoid hot showers as the hot water can stimulate more milk production (but warm water is ok)
  • Use a booby tube! Yes, silly name, I know. But I bought a pair of these as a part of my preparation for breastfeeding and they were invaluable the first few months. You can either freeze them or heat them up, whatever helps you the most.
  • Massage the breast that is infected. I used a drop of lavender essential oil mixed with coconut oil when I had mastitis. This helped so much with the swelling and pain. I just cleaned it off before my next nursing session.
  • Use anti-inflammatory foods like garlic, ginger, pineapple or pineapple juice,  or you can even make a comfrey/calendula compress (read more here!)
Thrush:

Thrush is extremely common these days among women and nursing babies, especially since it can get passed back and forth very easily. Mostly thrush tends to happen when both mom and baby are dealing with imbalanced gut flora, and they have an excess of yeast. This is also extremely linked with copper dysregulation, as copper imbalances are very common during pregnancy and the postpartum period plus copper is essential for controlling pathogens.

In the meantime, the most helpful remedies for helping oral thrush include coconut oil (both topically on mama’s nipples and in baby’s mouth, and mom can ingest a few tablespoons a day) and gentian violet.

Read more about thrush here.

My top tips for successful breastfeeding:

  • Nourish yourself! Breastfeeding takes more calories than pregnancy does. You can read my top tips for nourishing yourself while pregnany and nursing here. The basics involve lots of whole foods, herbal infusions like nettles and red raspberry leaf, lots of rest, and learning stress management techniques.
  • Make sure you get rest whenever you can!
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it!
  • Skip the bras. Go with camis if you need some sort of support. Bras clog up the lymph system, and can put pressure on milk ducts which can lead to clogged ducts. Let those girls breath!
  • Breathe! You got this, mama.
  • SAVE THIS LINK! They truly have SO many ideas on there for dozens of issues that may arise while breastfeeding.  They talk about tandem nursing, nursing while pregnant, helpful nursing positions
  • Also, Check out Dr. Jack Newman! He is a breastfeeding expert and has great information.

Where to Find Support if needed:

  • The absolute best resource is to find a qualified IBCLC (note: this is different than a LC). IBCLC’s are going to be the best bet at getting to the bottom of latch issues, including diagnosing a tongue tie, or even trickier a posterior tongue tie which can often only be felt and not seen, and are usually brushed off by doctors.
  • Ask friends and family for help or advice, even if they have not breastfed before. Likely they will be very willing to help you out if you are in need!
  • Reach out to your local La Leche League. This is where I ended up asking for help when I needed it, and they were prompt, kind, and extremely helpful.
  • Sometimes your OB/GYN or child’s pediatrician will be able to offer some advice, or at least point you in the right direction
  • Be willing or prepared to seek out second, or third, or fourth opinions because it’s impossible for any one person to be an expert on everything.  If one person’s suggestions aren’t working or they don’t resonate with you, just move on to the next person.

And finally..if you absolutely can’t breastfeed:

  • Donor milk can be a great alternative to formula if a woman is truly struggling with low supply! There are a couple main groups on Facebook called Human Milk for Human Babies and Eats on Feet to help find more info.
  • Sammy’s Milk is a toddler formula that is made from free range goat milk (the closest thing to human milk out there). This formula uses fish oil, molasses, methylated B vitamins, and is non-gmo. This is best for those looking to transition their toddler from breastfeeding to a bottle.
  • Make your own formula: You can look into buying kits for this, or you can use recipes like this one or this one so you can pick and choose the quality of food items that you wish to use.
  • How to find the best organic commercial formula

 

More Reading and Sources:

Why baby formula has no place in a sustainable future

We’re Not breastfeeding long enough and it is costing us

 

Note: I am not a doctor or an IBCLC, so I encourage you to find the best support from a qualified professional you can if you encounter breastfeeding issues. Find as much information you can (hopefully before your baby is born) and make decisions that work best for you and your family! Finding a pediatrician that is open to discussing your parenting decisions (instead of giving you a “my way or the highway” mentality) can be priceless as well so you have someone to depend on.


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