How to Deal With Breastfeeding Stigmas

Pregnancy is a time of joyful anticipation of the birth of your baby. And there are so many things to consider before your baby comes.

Key takeaways:
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    Breastmilk can prevent health issues.
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    Breastmilk can be fed by a bottle.
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    Breastmilk is safe at room temperature for up to four hours.
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    Breastmilk does not need to be warmed but the bottle's nipple should be warm.

When or even if you will return to work. What brand of diapers should you use? Breastmilk or formula? When should you add solids to your baby’s diet?

Breastmilk or formula?

One of the most emotionally loaded questions is whether or not to breastfeed. In many parts of the US today, formula feeding is considered normal. Many mothers choose not to breastfeed due to the negative attitudes of family members and friends. Additionally, the advice provided by friends and family members may be inaccurate, especially if they have no experience with successfully breastfeeding themselves or don’t know anyone who has successfully breastfed their baby.

During the 1970s, formula feeding was becoming very popular. Formula was convenient and a baby could be fed by anyone anywhere, giving the mother more freedom.

Over the next 30 years breastfeeding rates increased to 90 percent. Since the turn of the century, breastfeeding rates have decreased to 42 percent. This has resulted in the increase of serious health issues such as diabetes and obesity. Research confirms that breastmilk is the best nutrition for your baby up to six months of age.

Today, we know that breastmilk gives babies health advantages over formula. Breastfeeding is heavily promoted by pediatricians.

Barriers to breastfeeding

Why are mothers reluctant to breastfeed their babies? The answer is quite complex.

Discussions about breastfeeding should take place when you visit your obstetrician during your pregnancy. Recommendations to help a mother start and then continue to breastfeed have been developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). These recommendations recognize the barriers that mothers encounter when trying to successfully breastfeed their babies for a minimum of 6 months as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One of the first obstacles to breastfeeding after you deliver your baby is advertising by formula companies. Formula companies often provide gift packs at the hospital that include formula samples or discount coupons. Formula companies often claim that the formula is just the same as breast milk. Another point that formula manufacturers promote is that you know exactly how much milk your baby has taken without having to weigh them before and after feeding. This can sew doubt in the new mother’s ability to feed her baby.

Getting baby to latch onto the breast to get the milk out is often the hardest part of breastfeeding. Hospitals have lactation consultants to help. ACOG recommends arranging for a lactation consultant for after you leave the hospital to help you continue to breastfeed.

Babies grow quite quickly during the first few weeks of life. All of a sudden your baby needs to breastfeed more often and you may wonder if you have enough milk. This is how the supply and demand system of breastfeeding works. As the baby needs more milk they will need to feed more often. This increased feeding stimulates your breasts to make more milk. As you make more milk the space between feedings with settle down until the next growth spurt when your baby will need more milk and your breasts will make more milk.

If during the growth spurts you fear that you do not have enough milk for your baby all you need to do is look at your baby’s diapers. If the baby has several wet diapers each day your baby is getting enough milk. If still concerned you can get a baby scale and weigh the baby before and after a feeding. Then add up all the differences between before and after feeding for 24 hours to get a good idea of how much milk the baby is getting.

Engaging a lactation consultant after discharge from hospital is often essential if the new mother struggles with getting baby on the breast or faces opposition to breastfeeding from family members and friends.

In some cases the cost of a lactation consultant may be too expensive for families. Some communities have peer support groups that help new moms to overcome the challenges of breastfeeding.

Some mothers are concerned about receiving disapproving looks when breastfeeding in public. Even when the mother has selected a secluded spot and baby and breast are covered, some mothers feel the "I know what you are doing" looks from people.

Some mothers even feel negative emotions when they observe their baby feeding at their breast. These mothers experience mixed emotions as the act of breastfeeding makes them uncomfortable, even while they are trying to follow the "breast is best" mantra.

These kinds of anxiety can affect the milk supply and then both mom and baby are frustrated and stressed. Fortunately, there is a solution that may help the mother who feels scrutinized when breastfeeding in public and the mother who feels conflicted each time she breastfeeds her baby.

Feeding breastmilk in a bottle

It is possible to give your baby breastmilk in a bottle. For the mom who is breastfeeding, most of the time she can pump breastmilk and place it in a bottle for feeding when out in public. There are special nipples and strategies to help prevent the baby from rejecting the breast in favor of the bottle. For the mom who does not like seeing her baby breastfeeding, she can pump and exclusively feed her baby breast milk from a bottle.

There is no need to warm the milk before feeding breastmilk in a bottle. The baby will prefer a warm nipple, though. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the length of time breastmilk is safe at room temperature, in the fridge, and in the freezer. Freshly pumped breastmilk is good for four hours at room temperature. So, if you are out for a short time, a bottle of breastmilk may be just fine in your diaper bag. Or it could be placed in a small, insulated bag.

It is proven that breastmilk is the best food for your baby up to six months of age. Lactation consultants can help moms to continue to breast feed after leaving the hospital. Babies can get breastmilk in a bottle for those times when the bottle is a better choice. Special nipples and strategies can avoid the baby preferring the bottle over your breast if you are primarily breastfeeding.


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Winnie Mading Winnie Mading
prefix 1 month ago
While feeding breastmilk from a bottle is definitely superior to formula feeding, there are still differences. One of the cool things about breastfeeding is that in addition to providing antibodies against anything the mother has been exposed to, when baby nurses, its saliva signals the mother's breast to make antibodies to anything baby has been exposed to, even if mom hasn't! Also, remember
that the breasts "know" how much to make by not only the volume baby takes, but the frequency of nursing. Long intervals that leave milk in hte breasts can send a message to cut back. Therefore, if a mom is exclusively or very frequently using pumped milk, she needs to pump at a similar frequency.